Helen Ladd


Member Since: 2011

Personal Website

Helen F. Ladd is the Susan B. King Professor of Public Policy Studies and professor of economics at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Most of her current research focuses on education policy. She is particularly interested in various aspects school accountability, education finance, teacher labor markets, and school choice. She has written numerous articles and books on charter schools and other forms of choice in North Carolina, self-governing schools and parental choice in both New Zealand and the Netherlands, market based reforms in urban school districts, voucher programs, and school reform in post-Apartheid South Africa. In addition, with colleagues at Duke University she has written extensively about school segregation, teacher labor markets, and teacher quality. She is also the editor of Holding Schools Accountable: Performance-Based Reform in Education(Brookings Institution, 1996) and co-editor of The Handbook of Research in Education Finance and Policy (2008 and 2015), the official handbook of the American Education Finance Association. From 1996-99 she co-chaired a National Academy of Sciences Committee on Education Finance. In that capacity she is the co-editor of two books: a set of background papers, Equity and Adequacy in Education Finance and the final report, Making Money Matter: Financing America’s Schools. Prior to 1986, she taught at Dartmouth College, Wellesley College, and at Harvard University, first in the City and Regional Planning Program and then in the Kennedy School of Government. She graduated with a B.A. degree from Wellesley College in 1967, received a master’s degree from the London School of Economics in 1968, and earned her Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1974. She was president of the Association for Public Policy and Management and in 2011 and currently a co-chair of the national campaign for a Broader, Bolder Approach to Education (Boldapproach.org). Before she shifted to education policy, her research focused on state and local public finance, and she was active in the National Tax Association, which she served as president in 1993-94. She has also been a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, a senior research fellow at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. With the support of two Fulbright grants, she spent the spring term of 1998 in New Zealand studying that country’s education system and the spring term of 2002 doing similar research in South Africa. Most recently, she spent 6 months as a visiting researcher at the University of Amsterdam examining that country’s long experience with parental choice, significant autonomy for individual schools, and weighted student funding.

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