Ed Reform 101 is an innovative online course on education policy designed for those interested or currently working in the field of education reform. It is a joint project of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. The course provides a comprehensive, research-based foundation for navigating current education-reform issues such as school choice, teacher quality, standards, and accountability.

The course will run for ten weeks: from Friday, September 12, to Friday, November 14, 2014. Each week, participants will review selected readings, view a fifteen- to twenty-minute introductory video, and attend a one-hour webinar led by a prominent education researcher or reformer. Students may access the readings and videos at any time. The live weekly webinars will be held on Fridays from 12 to 1 p.m. EST.


We are no longer accepting applications for our fall 2014 cohort. If you are interested in participating in our next course offering, please email Victoria Sears at vsears@edexcellence.net

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is the purpose of the course?

Ed Reform 101 provides aspiring and current education-reform advocates with a solid foundation in the history of American education, education policy, and current issues in education reform. Participants will have the opportunity to interact with prominent experts in the field of education research and policy, better preparing them for their work in education reform, government, or public policy. Participants will also be able to expand their professional networks, both online and during an optional in-person meet-up session in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Ed Reform 101 (to be scheduled early in the course).

How will I benefit from taking the course?

Over the ten-week period, participants will be immersed in both the history of the education-reform movement and the analysis of current hot-button policy issues—many of which are often overlooked (or given superficial treatment) in general public-policy courses. During the course, participants will have the unique opportunity to engage with prominent education-reform experts from around the country via weekly interactive webinars. These experts are at the top of their field when it comes to the issues covered by the course and represent an all-star team of professors who would be impossible to assemble in a traditional course. In addition to the weekly webinars, participants also have access to introductory videos and carefully selected readings for each topic, prepared and chosen by the experts. This year’s course instructors will include Martin West (Harvard Graduate School of Education), Tom Loveless (Brookings Institution), Patrick Wolf (University of Arkansas), and Dan Goldhaber (Center for Education Data & Research), among others.

Who can apply to take the course?

Anyone! The course is perfect for those currently working in education reform (including charter operators, teachers, legislative aides, policy analysts, etc.) and for those interested in working in it or learning more about it (including graduate and late undergraduate students, parents, school board candidates, etc.). Participants in the beta ER101 course included TFA staffers, education-policy analysts, local reformers, and more. 

How will course participants be determined?

We're considering all applications, though we have a limited number of seats available in the course. To ensure the best quality experience for participants, we are looking for a diverse group of students with a range of skills and experiences. Final decisions will be made in August. All applicants will be contacted by that time.  

Who manages the course?

This course is a joint project of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. Staff from 50CAN and the Fordham Institute will serve as the course administrators.

How long is the course and what are the course dates/times?

The ten-week course will begin Friday, September 12, 2014, and conclude Friday, November 14, 2014. Each week, participants will review selected readings, view a brief introductory video, and attend a one-hour webinar led by a prominent education researcher or reformer. Students may access the readings and videos at any time before the webinars begin. The live webinars are held on Fridays from 12 to 1 p.m. EST.

What content will be covered in the ten-week course?

While the final schedule is TBD, the topics for the course modules are as follows: (1) introduction to Ed Reform 101; (2) introduction to American education and education policy; (3) the history and structure of public education in the U.S.; (4) governance and politics; (5) education finance; (6) standards, curriculum, and accountability; (7) school choice; (8) human capital and educator effectiveness; (9) early-childhood education; and (10) the future of education reform. A different expert professor will lead each module.

What are the course requirements?

Course completion is contingent on meeting the following requirements:

  • Watch all videos and complete the required readings
  • Attend at least 8 out of 10 live webinars (the in-person meet-up in D.C. is optional)
  • Prior to each of the webinars (following the initial introductory session), submit one to three discussion questions or comments about the topic via the course’s online discussion board
  • Actively participate in the webinars and ask at least one question live (via the webcam or chat box)
  • Complete one small group assignment: each week, a small group of participants will be assigned to summarize the readings and course video and post the summary on the discussion board
  • Complete a pre- and post-course survey

What do I earn for participating in the course?

Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate of completion and are encouraged to list the course on their resumes. They will also be listed on both the Fordham and 50CAN websites as “course alumni.” 

What technology do I need to participate in this course?

Ed Reform 101 will run on the web. All students need is a computer with internet access, a webcam, microphone, and speakers.

How do I enroll in the course?

When the application period re-opens, applications can be submitted online and must include a brief cover letter and resume. Your cover letter should provide short reflections (no more than one page total) on two questions:

  • Why do you want to participate in Ed Reform 101?
  • How does this course relate to your current or long-term career goals? 

What is the cost of the course?

The cost to participate in the course is $80.00, but applicants who apply between June 1, 2014, and July 1, 2014, will be eligible for an “early-bird” registration price of $50.00. There are also a limited number of scholarships available for those who need financial assistance. Please contact Victoria Sears for more information. Note that refunds for cancellations will only be issued up until one week prior to the course, after which the course fee is nonrefundable.

When and how do I pay the course fee?

We won't be accepting any payment for the course with the applications; instead, we'll collect payment from all accepted course participants when they officially register for the course. The preferred payment method is by check, though participants may also use PayPal. We'll provide those selected with more information.