Gary Orfield, Ph.D., is the Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at UCLA. His research interests are in the study of civil rights, education policy, urban policy, and minority opportunity. He was co-founder and director of the Harvard Civil Rights Project, and now serves as co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at UCLA. His central interest has been the development and implementation of social policy, with a central focus on the impact of policy on equal opportunity for success in American society. Recent works include six co-edited books since 2004 and numerous articles and reports. Among his many awards are the American Political Science Association's Charles Merriam Award for his "contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research" and the 2007 Social Justice in Education Award by the American Educational Research Association for "work which has had a profound impact on demonstrating the critical role of education research in supporting social justice."
Jack Jennings, Esq. founded the Center on Education Policy in January 1995. From 1967 to 1994, he served as subcommittee staff director and then as general counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Education and Labor. In these positions, he was involved in nearly every major education debate held at the national level, including the reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Vocational Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Higher Education Act, the National School Lunch Act, the Child Nutrition Act, and the authorization of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Mr. Jennings is currently serving on the board of directors of Phi Delta Kappa International Foundation and has served on the board of trustees of the Educational Testing Service, the Title I Independent Review Panel, the Pew Forum on Standards-Based Reform, the Maryland Academic Intervention Steering Committee, and the Maryland Visionary Panel. He holds an A.B. from Loyola University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and is a member of several legal bars, including the U.S. Supreme Court.
Patricia Gándara is a professor at the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. She co-directs the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles which is the nation’s leading research center on issues of civil rights and racial inequality. She is also the associate director of the UC Linguistic Minority Research Institute (LMRI) and Director of the LMRI Education Policy Center.
Gándara's research interests include equity and access in education and the education of linguistic and ethnic minority groups. She has written books and articles on such subjects as peer-group influence and the college-bound behavior of low-income Latino and other ethnic minority students; immigrant students, bilingual education policy and public schools; high academic achievement of low-income Mexican Americans; and mathematics instruction in multicultural classrooms. Gándara just completed a study (with R. Rumberger) entitled Resource Needs for California's English Learners, as part of the statewide adequacy project funded by four major foundations. Her most recent publications are Understanding the Latino Education Gap, Why Latinos Don't Go to College (Harvard University Press, 2009) and Forbidden Language: English Learners and Restrictive Language Policies (Teachers College Press, 2010).
She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from UCLA. Gándara has directed education research for the California State Assembly and served as Commissioner for Postsecondary Education for California. She has also been a bilingual school psychologist and a social scientist with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.
Dr. John B. King, Jr. is the New York State Education Commissioner and President of the University of the State of New York. The P-12 system serves 3.1 million students in Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12 in over 7,000 public and non-public schools. He brings to this role extensive experience leading urban public schools that are closing the achievement gap and preparing students to enter, succeed in, and graduate from college.
Dr. King previously served as a Managing Director with Uncommon Schools, a non-profit charter management organization that operates some of the highest performing urban public schools in New York and New Jersey. Prior to joining Uncommon Schools, Dr. King was a Co-Founder and Co-Director for Curriculum & Instruction of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School. Under his leadership, Roxbury Prep’s students attained the highest state exam scores of any urban middle school in Massachusetts, closed the racial achievement gap, and outperformed students from not only the Boston district schools but also the city’s affluent suburbs.
Dr. King earned a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, an M.A. in the Teaching of Social Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and an Ed.D. in Educational Administrative Practice from Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, Dr. King has served on the board of New Leaders for New Schools and is a 2008 Aspen Institute-New Schools Entrepreneurial Leaders for Public Education Fellow.
Rhoda Schneider, (Institute co-chair), is General Counsel and Senior Associate Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. For over 30 years she has been chief legal counsel to the commissioner, state board, and department staff. She has advised six successive commissioners and served twice herself as acting commissioner. Besides providing legal guidance to the commissioner and the agency, Rhoda and her staff also publish advisories for school and district leaders, parents and students, and other constituents on the state and federal laws affecting public elementary and secondary schools. The issues of education law and policy that she addresses include standards-based education reform, civil rights, charter schools, school finance and governance, student assessment, special education, school and district accountability, student rights and responsibilities, and educator licensure. Rhoda is a graduate of Wellesley College and received her J.D. from Boston University Law School. She is an adjunct lecturer at The Harvard Graduate School of Education and has been a presenter or guest lecturer at many professional conferences and graduate courses for educators and lawyers. Rhoda is also the editor of the MCLE book, School Law in Massachusetts.
Maree Sneed is a senior partner at the Washington, DC law firm Hogan Lovells and director of the firm’s nationally prominent education practice. Her practice involves advising school districts, educational associations, and private companies in the education sector on a wide range of state and federal legal issues, including those involving the U.S. Constitution, No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX, and the Magnet School Assistance Project.
Sneed has been involved in litigating on behalf of school districts in both state and federal courts and recently was counsel of record in two Supreme Court cases, Schaffer v. Weast and PICS v. Seattle School District No. 1. She also has counseled school districts on the development of policies and plans for English Language Learner students and racial and sexual harassment. She has assisted school districts in developing court-ordered and voluntary student assignment plans, and magnet plans and policies, including those that comply with the requirements of the federal Magnet Schools Assistance Project.
Sneed is on the faculty of the Harvard Graduate School of Education and serves as a board member and secretary of the National School Boards Foundation. Before attending law school, she taught at the high school level. She was also a secondary school principal, assistant principal, and supervisor of gifted and alternative programs in the Montgomery County Public Schools.
She has represented school districts in major school desegregation cases, including in negotiation of consent decrees and in unitary status analysis and proceedings and a successful effort in assisting in the resolution of the East Baton Rouge school desegregation case, which was the oldest desegregation case in the country. Sneed has also represented school districts in investigations conducted by the Department of Justice and the Office for Civil Rights, including investigations of English Language Learner, special education programs, and Title IX allegations. Additionally, she has aided school districts in the development and implementation of major policies, including for opening and closing schools, revising attendance boundaries, and ensuring equal educational opportunities.
Dennis D. Parker, J.D., is the Director of the ACLU National Office's Racial Justice Program (RJP). Concentrating on issues of the school-to-prison pipeline which funnels children of color from the educational system into the criminal justice system, racial profiling, affirmative action, indigent representation and felon enfranchisement and predatory lending, the RJP seeks to remove barriers to equal opportunity for communities of color through litigation, public education, community organizing and legislation.
Prior to joining the ACLU, he was the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau of the Office of the New York State Attorney. Mr. Parker also worked for fourteen years at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund litigating and supervising the litigation of scores of cases involving elementary and secondary education, affirmative action in higher education and equal educational opportunity. Other positions included work at the employment firm of Vladeck, Waldman, Elias and Engelhardt and the New York Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Division in Brooklyn, New York.
He has published a book and numerous chapters and articles on a range of civil rights issues including housing discrimination, educational equity, affirmative action, and testing. Mr. Parker lectures extensively on civil rights issues and is an adjunct professor at New York Law School. He is a graduate of Middlebury College and Harvard Law School.
Michael A. Rebell, J.D. is an experienced litigator, administrator, researcher, and scholar in the field of education law. He is the executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity and Professor of Law and Educational Practice at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Campaign seeks to promote equity and excellence in education and to overcome the gap in educational access and achievement between advantaged and disadvantaged students throughout the United States. He is also a member of the national Equity and Excellence Commission that is preparing a report that will be presented to the Secretary of Education and the Congress.
Previously, Mr. Rebell was the co-founder, executive director and counsel for the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. In CFE v. State of New York, the Court of Appeals, New York's highest court, declared that all children are entitled under the state Constitution to the "opportunity for a sound basic education" and it ordered the State of New York to reform its education finance system to meet these constitutional requirements. Mr. Rebell has also litigated numerous major class action lawsuits, including Jose P. v. Mills, which involved a plaintiff class of 160,000 students with disabilities. He also served as a court-appointed special master in the Boston special education case, Allen v. Parks.
Mr. Rebell is the author or co-author of five books, and dozens of articles on issues of law and education. Among his most recent works are COURTS AND KIDS: PURSUING EDUCATIONAL EQUITY THROUGH THE STATE COURTS (U. Chicago Press, 2009), MOVING EVERY CHILD AHEAD: FROM NCLB HYPE TO MEANINGFUL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY (Teachers College Press, 2008) with Jessica R. Wolff, The Right to Comprehensive Educational Opportunity, 47 HARVARD CIVIL RTS-CIVIL LIB. L. REV. 49 (2012), and Professional Rigor, Public Engagement and Judicial Review: A Proposal for Enhancing the Validity of Education Adequacy Studies, 109 TCHRS C.REC. 1303 (2007).
In addition to his research and litigation activities, Mr. Rebell is a frequent lecturer and consultant on education law. He is also currently adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School and previously was a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School, and for many years, a Visiting Lecturer at the Yale Law School. Mr. Rebell is a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School.
Perry A. Zirkel J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is University Professor of Education and Law at Lehigh University, where he has held the Iacocca Chair in Education and has served as Dean of the College of Education. He has written more than 1,350 publications on various aspects of school law, with an emphasis on legal issues in special education. He writes a regular column for Principal magazine and did so previously for both Phi Delta Kappan and Teaching Exceptional Children. Past president of the Education Law Association and co-chair of the Pennsylvania special education appeals panel from 1990 to 2007, he recently received the Research into Practice Award from the American Educational Research Association and the Excellence in Research Award from AERA’s Division A.
Jay P. Heubert, (Institute co-chair), is a Professor of Law and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and an Adjunct Professor of Law at Columbia Law School. He received his J.D. cum laude and his Ed.D. from Harvard University.
For fifteen years at Columbia and thirteen years at Harvard, he has taught courses on education law and policy for students in education, law, and other fields. His research focuses on civil rights issues in education, including desegregation, the obligations of charter schools to serve students with disabilities, and the role of law in school reform. A Carnegie Scholar, he has also studied how high-stakes testing affects the learning and life chances of low-achieving students. He has also served as chief counsel to the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education, a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, a specialist on desegregation and gender equity in the School District of Philadelphia, and a high-school English teacher in rural North Carolina.
Charlotte (Charley) Burkly (program administrator) recently completed the Program in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College while serving in her current role as an Assistant Director of Admissions at Columbia Business School.
She holds a B.A. in Chinese from Colgate University and an M.S. in Science Education from the City College of New York. Because of her experience as a middle school teacher in New York City and as a student at a wide range of higher education institutions, Charley is interested in further exploring ways to better serve students—whether it’s through law, business, politics, nonprofit organizations, or other means.
Kathryn Smeglin (program administrator) is a masters student studying politics and education at Teachers College. She also teaches visual art at New Visions High School for the Humanities in the Bronx. Her work as a teacher and community liaison sparked her interest in educational equity, with a special focus on ensuring access to quality arts education as part of equitable schooling.