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Allen, Jeanne

Founder & CEO, The Center for Education Reform

Full Bio




Jeanne Allen, Founder and CEO of the Center for Education Reform, is considered one of the nation’s most accomplished and relentless advocates for education reform, and a recognized expert, speaker and author in the field. She founded the Center for Education Reform (CER) in 1993 and leads the nationwide fight to ensure that the innovation, freedom, flexibility and parent power become the foundation for all schooling in the US.

Jeanne counsels a number of entrepreneurial education and technology companies, including HotChalk, Inc., CommonLit, and the Modern States Education Alliance. Major ed tech investors and accelerators, including 1776 and GSV Labs, count Jeanne as one of their key mentors. She serves on several boards, including the Washington Leadership Academy in Washington, DC and the Challenge Charter School in Chandler, AZ.

The Education Industry Association honored Jeanne with its “Friend of Education Award” in 2012. Additional honors include Working Mother’s “Most Powerful Moms in Education” and the Black Alliance for Educational Options Champion Award in 2013.

A frequent commentator in television and media, Jeanne has also published hundreds of articles and commentaries in newspapers and journals and as well as her own blog, Reality Check-In. Her honesty and linear thinking on issues such as reform, choice for parents, and teacher accountability has made her articles in outlets such as The Huffington Post essential reading. Her book, The School Reform Handbook: How to Improve Your Schools (1995) ignited parent-led efforts for education reform and her latest publication Education Reform: Before it Was Cool (2014) documents critical milestones during her work over the past 20-plus years.

Jeanne has been a trusted advisor to presidential administrations, governors, and lawmakers, and continues to provide valuable counsel to policymakers, philanthropists and her colleagues in education. She began her career on Capitol Hill and was a senior official in the US Department of Education from 1983-1988. She earned a bachelors degree in political science from Dickinson College and a masters of science in education entrepreneurship from the University of Pennsylvania.

Among her charitable and civic work, Jeanne is on the Leadership Council of the National Italian American Foundation, is a Dame of Malta, and an active member of the John Carroll Society. When time permits, she enjoys visiting the village of her family’s origin in Campania, Italy and time on the water, especially with her husband Dr. Kevin Strother, an educator, musician and charter boat captain. Her four young adult children are in various stages of school and work, some not surprisingly in the education reform arena.


Chalk Talk:

“Chalk Talk – Show Us The Data (April, 2009)”
“Chalk Talk – Biting the Apple on D.C. Choice (April, 2009)”
“Chalk Talk – Extraordinary (February, 2009)”
“Chalk Talk – Reflections on Election Eve (November, 2008)”
“Chalk Talk – A Senior’s Brave New World (August, 2008)”
“Chalk Talk – Whose Attention Deficit? (February, 2008)”
“Chalk Talk – Back-to-School Lesson from A College-Bound Kid (September, 2007)”
“Chalk Talk – Ode to Bethesda (August, 2007)” 
“Chalk Talk – New York Charter School Fight Takes to Broadway (March, 2007)” 
“Chalk Talk – Education Reform Action Hereos: Results (January, 2007)”
“Chalk Talk – Who Are the Real Action Heroes of Education? (January, 2007)”
“Chalk Talk – A Nobel Winner by All Accounts: Remembering Milton Friedman (November, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – Understanding School Choice Through the Eyes of Our Children (September, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – HOT! HOT! HOT! Politics Heats Up (August, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – Tapping Better Teachers to Turn Out Better Students (May, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – What’s in a Word? Reckoning with Charters and Oprah (May, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – American Progress Requires a New Focus on Competitiveness – In All Arenas (February, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – Why Mommy and Daddy Can’t Read – Public Education’s Crisis and The Stockholm Syndrome (January, 2006)”
“Chalk Talk – Hardly a Blow to Reform – Why California Voters Really Rejected Teacher Reforms (November, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – Wal-Mart 1; Teachers Unions 0 (August, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – Seeing Red: On Unions, Self-Esteem and Falling Behind (June, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – Charter School Holy Wars (April 25, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – Educating on School Choice (February 14, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – State of the Union (February 3, 2005)”
“Chalk Talk – Joy to the World or Bah Humbug! – Your Choice (December 14, 2004)”
“Chalk Talk – R-55 and Charter Schools in Washington: Where Do We Go From Here? (November 23, 2004)”
“Chalk Talk – Margaret Spellings to Bring Knowledge, Discipline to Education Reform (November 17, 2004)”
 “Chalk Talk – Fightin’ Words: Why Secretary Paige, and the Nation, Deserve Better (February 24, 2004)”
“Chalk Talk – The “Disarray Perception”: On the Charter School World’s Leadership (February 10, 2004)”