Ann Whalen


Senior Advisor, Department of Education

Washington, D.C.

Ann Whalen is senior advisor to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Prior to returning to the U.S. Department of Education, she served as the director of policy for Education Post.

Whalen has served more than five years in the Obama Administration with the U.S. Department of Education. At the department, Ann was director of the Implementation and Support Unit, providing technical assistance to states and school districts as they rolled out new reform programs to improve student results. In that role, she managed a 35-member team and a portfolio of over $50 billion in grant programs. She also served as a special assistant to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, helping shape administration policy across a range of issues. She also worked with Duncan at Chicago Public Schools for six years and served in the City of Chicago Department of Planning and Development under the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

She has B.A. in political science from Stanford University.


Posted May 7, 2015

Okay, John Oliver, Let’s Put the Test to the Test

There has been a groundswell of responses to John Oliver’s latest segment on standardized testing. From feelings of heartbreak to…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted May 4, 2015

When State Takeovers Help Schools: Learning From Lawrence, Massachusetts

For almost 15 years I have worked to ensure that all students—regardless of income, race or geography—have an opportunity to…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Mar. 27, 2015

Who Is Investing in Our Future?

Candidates and pundits talk nonstop about our national priorities and what it takes to be globally competitive. I see it…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Mar. 9, 2015

Opting Out of Opting Out

In recent weeks we have seen increased efforts on the part of some to encourage parents to opt their children…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Feb. 26, 2015

4 Reasons Local Assessments Shouldn’t Pass the ESEA Test

Most people who care about the debate over the rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act know that testing…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Feb. 4, 2015

A Magic Show on the Hill: Sleight of Hand With Federal Education Dollars

Skilled magicians understand that the way to make something disappear is to distract the audience’s attention with a dazzling display…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Jan. 29, 2015

Are State Charter School Laws Living Up to the Promise of Quality Choice?

Groups, districts, states and even members of Congress are taking time this week to acknowledge National School Choice Week. While…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Jan. 28, 2015

Telling Congress to Support Teachers and School Leaders

The United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP Committee) has been moving forward quickly in its…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Jan. 28, 2015

If It Works, Keep Funding It

Earlier this week NPR highlighted the fact that black and Latino Students in Dallas high schools pass the Advanced Placement…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Jan. 6, 2015

Politico’s Off to a Good Start, But More ESEA Coverage Is Needed to Truly Understand What’s at Stake

Politico’s New Year’s gift to the education and political world was a striking article by Maggie Severns highlighting the fact…

By Ann Whalen

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Posted Mar. 30, 2017

This Mom Went to Jail Making Sure Her Son Received a High-Quality Education and She Would Do It All Over Again

It’s been five years since Tanya McDowell made national headlines after she was charged with larceny for “stealing an education” for her son. Even with some…

By Megan DeSombre

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Posted Mar. 29, 2017

Betsy, Can We Really ‘Uber’-ize Public Education? Here‘s Why That‘s a Terrible Idea.

This morning, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos delivered a keynote address at the Brookings Institution for the Center on Children and Families’ release of its fifth…

By Madison Gray

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Posted Mar. 29, 2017

Coffee Break: E4E on Entering a New Chapter and Working on Reform From the Inside Out

Recently, the teacher-led reform group Educators for Excellence (E4E) announced a rebranding that includes an updated set of core principles and a new look for…

By Peter Cunningham

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