Robert Kelchen, assistant professor in the Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy in the College of Education and Human Services, has been chosen by the prestigious publication Education Week, as number 32 in its annual ranking of the top 200 United States educational scholars and public influencers for 2019 out of an estimated 20,000 education faculty in the nation.
The 2019 Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings was complied by Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute director of education policy studies and Education Week blogger. The article spotlights 200 scholars credited with moving ideas from academic journals into the national conversation. Using nine metrics, Hess calculated how much university-based academics contributed to public discussions of education.
"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," explains 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."
Kelchen was also recognized in Education Week's related rankings as number four in the nation out of the top 10 influencers in the area of Government and Policy along with colleagues from Harvard, UCLA and USC. Having approximately 116 interviews published in the last year, he tied for first place (along with Temple's Sara Goldrick-Rab) for receiving the most mentions by the education press and was ranked sixth in the nation for mentions in mainstream U.S. newspapers in general. He also received a ranking of first place in the nation in the Junior Faculty category.
Kelchen appreciates the importance of recognizing faculty who translate research into policy and are publicly engaged as well as the significance of this to the next generation of educators being trained here.
"What this means is that the next generation of educators are coming up in a world that is increasingly rewarding public engagement and being involved in policy and practice as well as just research. And they are being trained by faculty members who are engaged in more than just academic conversations. Most of our students want to make an impact on education and doing good rigorous research is just one way to do that. But it's critical to be able to take research either that you have done or someone else has done and translate it into forms that other educators can use and that policy makers can use. And That’s how people can have an impact in education policy discussions. It's by making that effort to connect with broader communities and that's something that these rankings feature and reward," he explained.
Looking at what's next in terms of the education policy in 2019 and beyond, he shared his thoughts.
"There will be a lot of discussion of education at both the state and national levels in the upcoming year. It will play an important role in the upcoming 2020 presidential campaign and there's pressure in both state houses and in congress to do something about the quality and affordability of education. There are lots of advocacy groups, lots of think tanks out there pushing their views on education. But there aren’t as many trained researchers who can take a step back and remain objective in looking at some of these important issues. And that is what this series of rankings is seeking to highlight," said Kelchen.