Professor is among 200 top scholars for the sixth straight year.

McGuinn teaches both political science and education. Photo: Carlos Yordan
McGuinn teaches both political science and education.
Photo: Carlos Yordan

January 2015 – For the sixth year running, Drew University Associate Professor Patrick McGuinn is nationally ranked as a leading voice on educational issues.

Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, once again included McGuinn in his Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, a list of 200 university-based scholars who shape public discourse on education. Hess, who also writes a blog for Education Week, started the list in 2011 and McGuinn, who teaches political science and education at Drew, has been included since year one.

The 2016 list reads like a who’s who among top colleges, with professors from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Chicago, Boston College, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University, Vanderbilt and UCLA. Drew is one of just two liberal arts schools represented; the other is Merrimack.

“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,” Hess said. “These results offer insight into how scholars in a field of public concern are influencing thinking and the national discourse.”

McGuinn joined Drew in 2005 and teaches at its College of Liberal Arts and its Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. His courses include “Education Policy and Politics,” “The American Education System” and “Social Policy and Inequality in America.”

Outside the classroom, McGuinn is a prolific writer and speaker on topics such as No Child Left Behind, Common Core, the Race to the Top Fund, teacher evaluation and tenure. His first book, No Child Left Behind and the Transformation of Federal Education Policy, 1965-2005, came out in 2006 and made him a go-to resource for journalists covering national education policy.

Another breakthrough came during a fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton between 2009 and 2010, when McGuinn wrote reports for Washington, D.C. think tanks on an array of education issues, which again raised his profile among education journalists. A second book, Education Governance for the Twenty-First Century: Overcoming the Structural Barriers to School Reform, was published by Brookings Institution Press in 2013.

McGuinn is currently writing for Publius, Education Next, The Brookings Institution and the New America Foundation and co-editing a book of essays about how the policies around kindergarten to 12th grade education and higher education are coming together. That book, from Harvard Education Press, is due out later this year.

Clearly, McGuinn is a dynamo who thrives at distilling and communicating larger ideas. So, he’d probably be on this national list regardless of where he worked. Still, he sees distinct advantages to teaching at Drew, including its proximity to New York City and the close interplay between professors and students on campus, where the student to teacher ratio is nine to one and the average class size is 17.

“I came to Drew because I went to a liberal arts college a lot like Drew—Franklin & Marshall College—and taught high school for three years, and I loved really getting to know the students and that kind of interactive teaching and learning environment,” McGuinn said. “I still do. So that part of it is great and it’s fun to share the research with the students. And certainly the university has been very supportive of both the active scholarship and the public engagement of what I do here.”

The professor added that being just an hour outside New York makes it easier for him to participate in the national education policy debate. “I think it’s difficult if you’re in Wyoming to be part both physically and intellectually of a lot of these conversations,” McGuinn noted.