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Why CASJE - Paul Goren

June 1, 2016

Paul Goren is the superintendent of schools for the Evanston/Skokie, Illinois (District 65) public elementary schools, a district of 17 schools and centers serving over 7,200 students in an urban/suburban environment. Prior to taking his current position with District 65, Paul was senior vice president for program at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Empitonal Learning (CASEL). He led a team that evaluated the University of Michigan School of Education. Along with numerous presentations at philanthropic, practitioner, policy, and research forums, Paul also served on the National Academy of Science Task Force on How People Learn. His writing includes commentaries for the National Society for the Study of Education Yearbook on Developing the Teacher Workforce, for Education Week on the relationship of philanthropic foundations to school districts, and for the Peabody Journal on formative assessments. He wrote a commentary for the American Journal of Education on the challenges of using data for improvement. In 2009 he received the Ian Axford Fellowship in public policy to study Maori education policy through a New Zealand Fulbright fellowship. Goren served as Senior VP at the Spencer Foundation, Director of Child and Youth Development at the MacArthur Foundation, and recently was appointed to the board of The New Teacher Center, a national organization focused on teacher development.

I have worked at the intersection of research, practice and policy for close to 35 years. As a teacher, a policy wonk working inside the Beltway, a senior program officer at two foundations focused on educational improvement, and in my current role as a superintendent of schools, I have been committed to generating evidence that can improve the practice of teaching and learning and outcomes. As Senior Vice President of the Spencer Foundation, I helped identify and fund efforts to generate knowledge that is usable. This included supporting the Chicago Consortium on School Research, an important model that links the expertise of researchers with that of practitioners to generate data and analyses that ultimately leads to educational improvement. I not only served as a funder of the Chicago Consortium for over nine years but as Executive Director of the organization for several years as well. I always said that if I had additional opportunities to help form "Consortium-like" entities, I would be all in. 

And that is when Lee Shulman called and asked if I would lend a hand on CASJE. Of course I jumped at the opportunity.  CASJE has the great potential to link researchers interested in Jewish education, in formal and informal settings, with practitioners who work in and are focused on improving these settings. Although I work in the public school system, jumping in on CASJE from its early beginnings has been fantastic. I have the opportunity to share what I know from my work at the Consortium and Spencer, to provide a perspective and lens on education leadership and practice, and to learn about the broad range of work being done in Jewish education. I find it exciting to be involved in an organization focused on improving Jewish education that brings together researchers and practitioners to help frame questions collaboratively. They work together to identify the problems and challenges of practice that research can address, and subsequently generate knowledge that can contribute to various research literatures, practice, and policy settings. I fully believe CASJE will advance Jewish education and further research-practice models for education improvement writ large.