UMBC education policy expert Jane Lincove helps launch national center for research on school choice

UMBC’s Jane Lincove, associate professor of public policy, is collaborating with colleagues across the U.S. to launch the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH) through a $10 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

“The goal is to gather top researchers across the United States who are studying different aspects of schools of choice,” says Lincove. “It allows us to share information and research questions to better understand the impact of how different school districts implement school choice.”

The new center will be based at Tulane University. Additional partners include faculty from Michigan State University, Syracuse University, Johns Hopkins University, and ten other higher education institutions across the United States.

Lincove’s research on education policy includes a focus on the charter school system in New Orleans post-Katrina. In addition to her academic publications in journals like Education Finance and Policy, Lincove has also written for policymakers and the public, through groups like the Brookings Institution and the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans.

Through REACH, Lincove will do further research to identify whether schools systems that utilize school choice deliver on the promise of improving educational equity and offering greater access to high-quality education for students, given the variability of school enrollment practices and children’s transportation and housing challenges. Her work will include research in Baltimore’s public school system, which enables schools of choice, with the support of UMBC School of Public Policy graduate students. This work will be in collaboration with the Baltimore Education Research Consortium led by Baltimore City Public Schools, Morgan State University, and Johns Hopkins University.

Lincove explains that REACH will enable scholars in this field, who are based in cities across the United States, “to share information and research questions to better understand the impact of how different school districts implement school choice.” She points out that this is especially important in districts where leaders have replaced traditional education systems with school choice in hopes of better meeting the needs of vulnerable or underserved students, such as low-income students, students from racial or ethnic minority groups, English language learners, and special education students.

Lincove is highly aware of the complexities this work involves, but she looks forward to shedding light on an issue of such public importance. “Researching school choice is challenging because there are so many stakeholders that are for and against it. But in the end,” she says, “looking at research across the United States allows us to identify what is working and help inform policy to help school systems create equitable, successful, and safe learning environments.”

Learn more about Jane Lincove and REACH.

Banner image: Jane Lincove, public policy. Photo by Catalina Sofia Dansberger Duque for UMBC.