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Doug Harris and colleagues win $10 million grant to establish research center focused on school choice

Katie Weaver
The center, REACH, will investigate how initiatives like charter schools and voucher programs shape the learning environment for students from disadvantaged groups.

Murphy Institute affiliate Doug Harris, Professor of Economics, founding director of the Education Research Alliance, and Schleider Foundation Chair in Public Education at Tulane, leads a team that was recently awarded a $10 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.  The team, whose leaders include scholars from Michigan State University, the University of Southern California, and Syracuse University in addition to Harris, will use the funding to create the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH).  REACH will be housed at Tulane.

The group will broadly research the effects of school choice programs.  From the charter school hub of New Orleans, REACH will analyze such programs across the U.S., focusing on outcomes for students of color, low-income students, English language learners, and students with disabilities.

The research team—which also includes scholars from the Brookings Institution, Florida State University, Johns Hopkins University, Montclair State University, RAND Corp., Temple University, the University of California, Irvine, the University of North Carolina, the University of Texas, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County—will work with stakeholders in education and receive input from a National Policy Advisory Board representing public, private and charter schools across the country. Although this diverse group may not find consensus in the multifaceted debate around charter schools voucher programs, and similar education initiatives, REACH will conduct the rigorous quantitative work required to evaluate school choice programs and ultimately shape effective education policy.