Government Professor Awarded Wilson Center Fellowship

Douglas Reed, Associate Professor of Government, will be a fellow-in-residence at the Woodrow Wilson Center during the 2013-14 academic year, where he will dedicate his time to completing his book-length project, The Politics of Proficiency: The Common Core and the Future of American Education.

The book begins with a discussion on why states have had different educational expectations for their students and how the federal system of educational governance helps generate that inequality. In the recent economic downturn, many policymakers and educational advocates have argued that increasing the academic rigor of schools is needed to make the U.S. more competitive in the international arena. This has led to the creation of the Common Core of States Standards, a state-level effort to adopt consistent K-12 educational standards across the U.S. Reed examines the politics of implementing the Common Core as well as the difficulties of achieving common standards in the current fiscal and political climate.

Reed posits that the origins of low and unequal standards lie primarily in the political economy of public education in the U.S. which is anchored in unequal educational expenditures across states and generates a “politics of proficiency” in which states seek to satisfy local publics’ varying demand for educational achievement at the lowest cost. Viewed across the states, this creates inequality in educational standards. As a result, Reed contends, the Common Core—on its own—lacks a framework to address the political origins of low and unequal standards, jeopardizing the effort to create uniform and consistent standards for all U.S. students.

Professor Reed is one of 21 scholars and practitioners from around the world awarded a fellowship-in-residence this year.