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All in Week's Time: Three Studies by Same Professor Make News

Researcher’s studies covered by Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New Yorker

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September 24, 2013 | by Wendy Leopold

EVANSTON, Ill. --- In the course of four days, three different studies by Northwestern University researcher Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach -- on universal preschool, food stamps and delaying children’s entrance to kindergarten -- were cited at length in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine.

The Wall Street Journal reported on a paper Schanzenbach and co-author Elizabeth Cascio presented last week. The study measures the benefits of providing universal preschool while also outlining the potential the unintended consequences likely to occur from President Obama’s “Preschool for All” initiative. Bloomberg News also covered their research.

The paper by Schanzenbach, associate professor in the School of Education and Social Policy, notes that free, high-quality preschool for all will result in increased enrollment, but some of this will be due to children from more advantaged families switching from private to public preschool.

“States need to carefully consider how to design their “Pre-School for All” programs and how to set tuition levels for higher-income families,” she said. A faculty fellow of Northwestern’s Institute for Policy Research, Schanzenbach also is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, which published the working paper. 

In a New York Times column this week, Paul Krugman wrote about another study that Schanzenbach co-authored. The study concluded that adults who received assistance from the food stamp program as children were healthier and more productive adults. They also were less likely as adults to make use of “safety net” programs.

And another study by economists Schanzenbach and Cascio was the subject of a New Yorker blog. The study suggests that “redshirting” -- the practice of delaying a child’s entrance into kindergarten by a year to give them an academic advantage -- can in fact have very different results.

As a 2012 Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellow, Schanzenbach’s opinions have been published in or aired on the Chicago Tribune, Time magazine, PBS, MSNBC and other outlets. Supported by the Office of the Provost, the Public Voices project provides a diverse group of Northwestern scholars with the resources, support and skills necessary to dramatically increase their visibility and influence as thought leaders in academia, the media and the world at large.

Schanzenbach has done research on the impact of class size on student outcomes, school reform and school accountability policies, including the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. She is studying the causes of recent increases in food insecurity during the Great Recession.