Media mentions for the Summer 2017 Learning Connections


Faculty and staff from across UW–Madison’s School of Education are routinely quoted or featured in newspapers, magazines and other online news sources. These experts are also interviewed on the radio and showcased in television news reports. Over the past 12 months, there have been more than 150 School of Education-related media mentions. Following are a few examples from the past several months …

Hillman speaks with Wall Street Journal about performance-based funding

Nicholas Hillman in March was quoted in a Wall Street Journal article discussing the impact of performance-based funding legislation on university and student success.

Nicholas Hillman
Nicholas Hillman speaks in April with Wisconsin's legislative Assembly
Committee on Colleges and Universities about performance-based funding.
The Wall Street Journal report explained how Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker recommended in his 2017-19 budget proposal expanding its performance-based funding model, now in use at the state’s technical colleges, to four-year public universities. More than 30 states now use performance-based funding, the Journal notes, meaning they divvy up state taxpayer funding in part by looking at outcomes that might include graduation rates, debt loads or graduates in high-demand fields like engineering.

“Despite the model’s growing popularity, student outcomes don’t improve dramatically when funding is tied to graduation rates or similar measures,” Hillman tells the newspaper. “I don’t want to be the skunk at the garden party,” he continued, “but you want to have evidence-based policies and this is what the evidence says.”

Hillman in April further discussed this topic with the state’s legislative Assembly Committee on Colleges & Universities, which was examining the governor’s proposal.

Hillman is an associate professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA) who researches higher education finance and policy. He also is a faculty affiliate with the La Follette School of Public Affairs, and is a Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education faculty affiliate.

Since the start of 2017, Hillman has spoken with more than a dozen media outlets interested in his expertise, including:

• The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which quoted Hillman in March for a report examining how Walker’s performance-based funding plan could affect different campuses across the UW System.

The Atlantic, which utilized data from Hillman and ELPA doctoral students Ellie Bruecker and Valerie Crespín-Trujillo for a story in April looking at the impact of recent changes to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.

Inside Higher Ed, which quoted Hillman and Bruecker in April for an article about how the removal of an IRS tool for FAFSA applicants affected college students and application rates earlier this year.

Ladson-Billings ranked No. 3 among nation’s most influential education scholars

Education Week blogger Rick Hess published his annual rankings of the most influential education scholars in the United States on Jan. 11, and UW–Madison’s Gloria Ladson-Billings is ranked No. 3.

These annual public influence rankings appear each January in Education Week’s “Straight Up” blog, which is authored by Hess.

Ladson-Billings holds the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education and is a professor with the departments of Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Policy Studies, and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Ladson-Billings is an expert on culturally relevant pedagogy and critical race theory who examines the practices of teachers who are successful with African American students.

“One small way to encourage academics to step into the fray and revisit academic norms is, I think, by doing more to recognize and value those scholars who engage in public discourse,” Hess says of his rankings.

Hess, who is the American Enterprise Institute’s director of education policy, uses nine publicly available metrics to calculate how much university-based academics moved ideas from academic journals into the national conversation.

In addition, Ladson-Billings in December 2016 was featured on’s list of the “Most Influential African Americans in Wisconsin.”

Barry shares words of wisdom with Washington Post

The thoughts of Lynda Barry, an award-winning author and cartoonist with the School of Education’s Art Department, were showcased in a Washington Post column in January that was collecting advice from great creative thinkers for the rising generation of female artists.

Leading up to the Jan. 21 Women’s March on Washington, D.C., The Post’s Michael Cavna in his Comic Riffs column “asked eight great creative minds what advice they might have for the rising generation of young female artists, storytellers and other creatives in a world that can still present them with unique obstacles. What guidance might they offer gleaned from their own experience?”

Barry, the Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art, shared with the Post: “Always carry a pen and a notebook with you — write down the crazy things you hear people say: the good, the bad, the confusing. If you can draw a picture of them saying it, even better! In other words, start to make comics about your experiences in this world. And learn to sing ‘Bad Reputation’ by Joan Jett. Sing it as loud as you can with all of your heart.”

In other reports …

• National Public Radio in February spoke with Kathleen Horning, who directs the School’s Cooperative Children’s Book Center, for a report about how authors and illustrators of color only accounted for 22 percent of books published in 2016. NPR explains how the CCBC has been tracking these statistics since 1985.

Lisa Cadmus-Bertram
Lisa Cadmus-Bertram, a faculty member with the School’s Department of Kinesiology, appeared on Wisconsin Public Radio’s “The Larry Meiller Show” in January to talk about a research project she’s leading that is looking at whether Fitbits and online coaching can help motivate cancer patients to become more physically active.

Paula McAvoy was quoted in a March report from the Associated Press that appeared in newspapers across the nation on the topic of teachers sharing their own personal political viewpoints. McAvoy is the program director of the Center for Ethics and Education and is an alumna of the School of Education. She explains to the AP that teachers should not shy away from political discussion in the classroom, because schools should act as a space for students to challenge ideas and consider different viewpoints while developing their personal beliefs.

Julie Underwood, a professor of law and educational leadership and policy analysis, and the former dean of the School of Education, is writing monthly “Under the Law” columns for Phi Delta Kappan magazine. Recent topics have included a look at the mixed messages about guns and schools, and how Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court might bear upon K–12 education.

Erika Bullock
• Curriculum and Instruction Assistant Professor Erika Bullock shared her expertise with The Atlantic for an April report headlined, “How Does Race Affect a Student’s Math Education?”

• Educational Policy Studies Associate Professor Linn Posey-Maddox explained to Education Week in April how even at economically diverse schools, social circles across parent groups often become segregated racially and economically.  

• The research of Claudia Persico, an assistant professor with the Department of Educational Policy Studies, was highlighted in a February New York Times op-ed by Thomas B. Edsall headlined, “Integration Works. But Can It Survive the Trump Era?”

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