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Sarah Reckhow

Sarah Reckhow

Assistant Professor of Political Science

Sarah Reckhow is an expert on education policy, urban and state politics, and philanthropy and nonprofits in public policy.

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Area of Expertise

Philanthropy Racial Politics State Politics Education Policy Every Student Suceeds Act Local Politics Ethnic Politics


Sarah Reckhow is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University. Her research and teaching interests include urban politics, education policy, nonprofits and philanthropy, and racial and ethnic politics. Reckhow’s work on urban schools has focused on policy reforms in New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Detroit. Her award-winning book with Oxford University Press, Follow the Money: How Foundation Dollars Change Public School Politics, examines the ... role of major foundations, such as the Gates Foundation, in urban school reform. Reckhow was awarded a research grant from the W.T. Grant Foundation (with Megan Tompkins-Stange) to study the use of research evidence in the development of teacher quality policy debates. She has recently published articles in the Journal of Urban Affairs, Policy Studies Journal, and Planning Theory. Reckhow is affiliated with the Global Urban Studies Program and the Education Policy Center at Michigan State. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. Previously, Reckhow taught history and government at Frederick Douglass High School in the Baltimore City Public Schools.

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University of California - Berkley: Ph.D., Political Science | 2009

Harvard University: B.A., Social Studies | 2002

Selected Press

Rocky Path Ahead as Chicago Transitions to Elected School Board

Education Week | 2021-07-07

After decades of organizing by parents, activists and unions, Chicago is on the verge of having a fully-elected school board for the first time in its history. However, the Chicago plan has prompted backlash, even from supporters, and disagreement over what's next. There's also more chance that national issues having little to do with school operations will creep into board matters, said Sarah Reckhow, a Michigan State University professor who co-wrote a book about money in board races. She said Chicago can expect heavily contested races with an elected board. She said: “It will create a new competitive realm of electoral politics for the city.”

The rise of Black homeschooling

The New Yorker | 2021-06-14

The National Parents Union paid for a grant [to fund a homeschooling collective called Engaged Detroit] with money from Vela Education Fund which is backed by the Walton Family Foundation and the Charles Koch Institute. These groups advocate “school choice” — rerouting money and families away from traditional public schools through such means as charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately managed, and vouchers, which allow public-education dollars to be put toward private-school tuition. Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at Michigan State University told me that the Waltons “have been consistently a key funder of the charter-school movement.” Since 1997, the Walton foundation has spent more than four hundred million dollars to create and expand charter schools nationwide.

Experts expect high voter turnout among MSU students. The question is where they'll vote.

Lansing State Journal | 2020-10-28

College students are less likely than older generations. Just 46.1% of 18 to 29 year olds voted in 2016, according to U.S. Census data, compared with about 70.9% of voters at least 65 years old and 66.6% of adults between the ages of 45 to 64. But this year, college students around the country are expected to vote in record numbers. “I do expect to see (high student voter turnout),” said Sarah Reckhow, an associate professor of political science at MSU, who said the COVID-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and political turmoil have helped increase enthusiasm among student voters. “Young people were especially engaged. I would connect a number of different dots here that shows this election…the level of interest is extraordinary.”

Reforms we voted for two years ago have prepared Michigan for pandemic voting

Lansing State Journal | 2020-10-28

This op-ed was written by Sarah Reckhow, a professor of political science at Michigan State University, who serves on the MSUvote committee. We, as Michiganders and Americans, cannot let the COVID-19 pandemic stop us from voting in the 2020 federal election. Voters in our state passed a package of measures in 2018 that provide voters with multiple options to ensure their vote is safe and secure. In 2018, Michigan adopted a package of election reforms, known as Proposal 3. These reforms include no-excuse absentee voting (enabling voters to request an absentee ballot without providing a reason) and same day voter registration (enabling voters to register and cast a ballot on the same day, including Election Day).