Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Taubman Center

Susanna Loeb and Harry Brighouse – Educational Goods: Values, Evidence and Decision-Making

Monday, April 22, 2019

5:30 p.m. – 7 p.m.

Joukowsky Forum, 111 Thayer Street

We spend a lot of time arguing about how schools might be improved. But we rarely take a step back to ask what we as a society should be looking for from education — what exactly should those who make decisions be trying to achieve? "Educational Goods" advances a theory of how to combine values and evidence in decision-making about education. The book identifies three kinds of value that must be balanced against each other: a theory of the kind of educational outcomes schools should aim at; a theory of how educational opportunities should be distributed; and independent values that should be considered when they conflict with the first two kinds of value. The evidence that decision-makers should seek out and consider is that which bears on how these values will be realized through the choices they make, and the book articulates a distinctive method for thinking about the evidence in the light of the values. The method is illustrated through consideration of 3 central policy issues: school financing, school accountability systems, and school choice mechanisms.

Susanna Loeb is the Director of the Annenberg Institute at Brown University and Professor of Education and Professor of International and Public Affairs. Susanna's research focuses broadly on education policy and it's role in improving educational opportunities for students.

Her work has addressed issues of educator career choices and professional development, of school finance and governance, and of early childhood systems.

Before moving to Brown, Susanna was the Barnett Family Professor of Education at Stanford University. She was the founding director of the Center for Education Policy at Stanford and co-director of Policy Analysis for California Education. Susanna led the research for both Getting Down to Facts projects for California schools. She has been a member of the National Board for Education Sciences, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Harry Brighouse is a professor who teaches applied ethics, political philosophy, and ethics at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Every three years, he teaches a class for the First Year Interest Group program on Children and the Family. His research interests include all of those topics, as well as philosophy of education. He has an abiding interest in education (including higher education) policy and practice.

His recent books include (with Helen Ladd, Susanna Loeb, and Adam Swift) Educational Goods: Values and Evidence in Decision-Making (University of Chicago Press 2018) and (with Adam Swift) Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships (Princeton University Press, 2014). He co-edited The Aims of Higher Education: Problems of Morality and Justice (University of Chicago Press, 2015) with Michael McPherson, which won the 2017 Federic W Ness Award for the book contributing to our understanding of liberal education from the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

He directs the Center for Ethics and Education.