New K-12 think tank zeroes in on research and policy

By Laura Devaney
September 4th, 2015

Learning Policy Institute to bridge research and policy; respond to “New Moment”

learning-policyA new national education think tank – the Learning Policy Institute – will conduct high-quality research to inform evidence-based policies that can prepare all students for the challenges of our fast-changing, knowledge-based society.

Bridging the often far-apart worlds of research and policymaking, as well as knowledge about learning and the design of education systems, the Institute’s work will be independent and nonpartisan, focusing on learning from pre-K through high school.

Internationally renowned researcher and policy expert Linda Darling-Hammond will serve as president and CEO of the organization.

“We’ve arrived at a new moment for public education in America,” said Dr. Darling-Hammond. “All children need to be able to inquire deeply, think critically, communicate, and collaborate to solve challenging problems. Fortunately, we have growing knowledge about how to create learning environments that can accomplish these goals. The Learning Policy Institute will focus on turning that knowledge into action to promote policies that enable each and every child to learn, think, and thrive.”

Darling-Hammond, who is Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, is joined by Executive Director Patrick M. Shields, who comes to the Institute after 20 years creating and building a highly respected education research center at SRI International. They will lead a team of researchers, educators, policy experts, and communicators that will conduct, marshal, and disseminate research; translate research for federal, state, and local policymakers; host policy briefings, seminars, and debates; and engage in extensive communication, outreach and networking.

“Rather than leaving research on the shelf, where it often lands, the Learning Policy Institute will carry research about what works directly into the policy arena,” said Shields. “We’ll provide all those who care about improving education with independent, practical knowledge and information.”

In doing this work, Institute staff will connect the people who shape public policy with evidence, ideas and actions to strengthen the education system and address the complex realities facing public schools and their communities, the think tank said.

“In this new moment, there’s very substantial interest in finding agreement across old political divides so that our nation can move education forward,” added Board Chairwoman, Susan Sandler. “Most people want an education system that guarantees that all children learn and graduate, find good jobs, and contribute to society to make the world a better place. The Institute will build on those areas of agreement.”

In addition to Ms. Sandler, a trustee with the Sandler Foundation, and Dr. Darling-Hammond, the Board of Directors includes:

  • Henry Louis Gates, Jr.: Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
  • Kris D. Gutiérrez: Professor of Language, Literacy and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley; Former President of the American Educational Research Association; Former Vice-chair and current board member for the Institute for Education Sciences.
  • David Lyon (Treasurer): Founding President Emeritus of the Public Policy Institute of California and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
  • David Rattray: Executive Vice President, Education and Workforce Development, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; President of UNITE-LA.
  • Stephan Turnipseed: Executive Director of Strategic Partnerships, LEGO Education; President Emeritus, LEGO Education, North America; Chairman, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

The Atlantic Philanthropies, the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Sandler Foundation, and the Stuart Foundation are providing initial support for the Institute.

More information on the Learning Policy Institute can be found at and on Twitter @LPI_Learning.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

About the Author:

Laura Devaney

Laura Devaney is the Director of News for eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's Philip Merrill College of Journalism. When she isn't wrangling her two children, Laura enjoys running, photography, home improvement, and rooting for the Terps. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura