Politicians from both sides of the aisle agree: early childhood education plays a crucial role in ensuring America’s economy and global competitiveness. Even amid challenging fiscal climates, states have advanced innovative approaches to early learning policies, and new federal initiatives are trying to sustain their momentum and expand their reach. What’s next for early learning, and what can the White House and Congress do to support it?
This National Journal policy summit will feature a panel of experts exploring how the two presidential candidates’ visions for early education might translate into policy and the impact these policies might have on the nation’s long term economic health. The discussion will also examine the current early childhood education policies at work in the states and offer a range of policy solutions to guarantee American children have the tools they need to succeed in a global economy.
The Honorable Michael Castle
Rolf Grafwallner, Ph.D.
Assistant State Superintendent
Early Childhood Development, Maryland Department of Education
Early Childhood Initiative, Teach For America
Chief Executive Officer
National Alliance for Public Charter Schools
Arthur J. Rolnick, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative
Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Michael N. Castle
Michael "Mike" Newbold Castle is a former Governor and former U.S. Representative for Delaware's At-large congressional district, serving from 1993 until 2011. He is a member of the Republican Party.
Barry Downing, President of Northrock, Inc, an entrepreneurial real estate and healthcare business located in Wichita, Kansas. Downing became an advocate for pre-kindergarten education because of his commitment to under resourced children.
Assistant State Superintendent, Early Childhood Development, Maryland Department of Education
Fawn Johnson is a correspondent for National Journal, covering a range of issues including immigration, transportation and education. Johnson is a long-time student of Washington policymaking, previously reporting for Dow Jones Newswires and the Wall Street Journal where she covered financial regulation and telecommunications. She is an alumnus of CongressDaily, where she covered health care, labor, and immigration. Johnson first covered Congress at BNA Inc., where she covered labor, welfare, immigration, and asbestos liability. She has an M.A. from the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. from Bates College.
Managing Director of Teach For Americaâ€™s Early Childhood Education initiative
Nina Rees is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the charter school movement. Prior to her current position, Ms. Rees was Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Knowledge Universe Education, a leading global education company with investments in early childhood education, before and after school programs and online instruction, where she was responsible for the company's government relations work in Washington, D.C..
Before joining Knowledge Universe, Ms. Rees worked for over 15 years in Washington, D.C., as the Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement at the U.S. Department of Education. She oversaw the administration of 28 grant programs and coordinated the implementation of several provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.
Prior to joining the White House, Ms. Rees served as the senior education analyst at the Heritage Foundation, where she authored more than two dozen policy briefs and served as the foundation's chief spokesperson on education.
Ms. Rees currently serves on the board of directors of the Education Industry Association, as well as the board of advisors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Ms. Rees holds a B.A. in Psychology from VA Tech and a Master's in International Transactions from George Mason University.
Art Rolnick serves as a co-director for the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the University of Minnesota. He previously served at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a senior vice president and director of research and as an associate economist with the Federal Open Market Committeeâ€”the monetary policymaking body for the Federal Reserve System. He is a board member of several Minneapolis nonprofit firms, including the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation and Ready 4 K, an advocacy organization for early childhood development. A recipient of numerous awards for his work in early childhood development, he was named Minnesotan of the Year by Minnesota Monthly magazine in 2005. Rolnick holds degrees in mathematics and economics from Wayne State University and has a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Minnesota.
Jon Schnur is Chairman of the Board, co-founder and former CEO of New Leaders for New Schools, a national non-profit organization ensuring high academic achievement for every student by attracting and preparing outstanding leaders and supporting the performance of the urban public schools they lead at scale. Jon has served as a senior advisor to President Obama's campaign and presidential transition team, as senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as well as President Clinton's White House Associate Director for Educational Policy, Senior Policy Adviser on Education to Vice President Gore, and special assistant to U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley. He has developed national education policies from preschool to higher education â€“ with special focus on teacher and educator quality, reforming urban school systems, charter schools, after-school programs, and early learning and preschools. Jon graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Politics with honors, took coursework at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government and graduated from a Wisconsin public high school. Jon lives in Montclair, New Jersey with his wife Elisa and their three children: Matthew, Elizabeth and Philip.
Jon Schnur, Chairman and Co-Founder of America Achieves, talks about America's lack of urgency regarding education reform. Schnur argues that there is a disconnect between local and federal perceptions of education.