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American University Education and Policy Experts Available to Discuss Education Secretary Betsy DeVos

WHO: American University education and policy experts
WHEN: Jan. 23 - ongoing
WHERE: In–studio, on campus, via email, via telephone

EXPERTS AVAILABLE: 

American University School of Education Dean Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy is an esteemed educator and administrator recognized for her excellence in teaching, diversity research and college counseling. Holcomb-McCoy was a consultant to the Obama Administration's Reach Higher Initiative and was one of the speakers at the White House's 2014 Summit on Higher Education at Harvard University. Her work focuses on the measurement of multicultural self-efficacy and cultural competence in counseling, the evaluation of urban school counselor preparation and training, and school counselors' influence on low-income students' college readiness.   

Holcomb-McCoy says: "The President's nominee for education secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos, is unqualified and unfit to run an important agency tasked with overseeing the education of millions of U.S. youth. Unbelievably, she thinks that the Individuals with Disabilities Act should be left up to the states to decide whether or not to comply; she does not know it is a federal law and is not optional. When asked about higher education, she was stumped. Her lack of experience and support of public education leaves her not only ill-equipped to address the needs of the vast majority of America's schools, but she is a threat to the success of our youth--which is our future." 

Jennifer Steele is an associate professor in AU's School of Education. Her research, which emphasizes quantitative methods that support causal inference, focuses on urban education policy at the K-12 and postsecondary levels. Other studies have examined the distribution of teacher effectiveness, implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, effects of competency based education on student achievement, and implementation of education reform in Post-Katrina New Orleans.

Steele says: "Betsy DeVos' nomination signals a shift away from the notion that publicly funded schools should be held accountable for student learning, toward an idea that the real measure of a school's success is whether parents want to send their kids there. It certainly presupposes a lot of time, information, and agency on the part of parents."

Dave Marcotte, professor in the School of Public Affairs, is available to discuss issues related to education policy, specifically, the determinants of achievement in K-12 education; the importance of cost on attainment in higher education; and interventions to improve STEM education.  


American University is a leader in global education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public service, and internships in the nation’s capital and around the world.