School of Education Faculty Honored for Public Dialogue by American Enterprise Institute

AMHERST, Mass. – The American Enterprise Institute’s Frederick M. Hess has recognized two scholars from the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for contributions to the national public dialogue on education policy.
Professor emerita Sonia Nieto of the department of teacher education and curriculum studies and associate professor Kathryn A. McDermott of the department of educational policy, research and administration were among 168 education scholars nationwide named to Hess’s “Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings,” which recognizes “university-based scholars for their contributions to the public square.”
That impact is described as both the corpus of a scholar’s work (widely-cited works, books, etc.) and that scholar’s centrality to public discussion in 2012 (appearances in newspaper reporting, online media, and so forth). Hess is the AIE’s director of education policy studies and an Education Week blogger.
Using seven metrics, Hess says he calculated whether and how university-based academics contributed to public debates about schools and schooling.

“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,” explained Hess. “As I see it, the extraordinary policy scholar excels in five areas: disciplinary scholarship, policy analysis and popular writing, convening and shepherding collaborations, providing incisive media commentary, and speaking in the public square.”
Nieto was ranked at number 50, which Hess describes as a milestone. She has written extensively on language, culture and teaching, focusing on multicultural education and access to resources. She is author of, among many other books and articles, “What Keeps Teachers Going?”
McDermott’s professional interests include state and federal education policy, educational equity and policy implementation. She is the author of “High-Stakes Reform: The Politics of Educational Accountability” and was ranked 143 on Hess’ Edu-scholar scale.
AEI is a conservative think tank founded in 1943. Its stated mission is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism—limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate.”
More information on the Edu-Scholar Public Presence Rankings is available at
Photos: Sonia Nieto (left) and Kathryn A. McDermott