Robert Costrell served as Mitt Romney's education adviser when Romney was governor of Massachusetts.
Professor to Advise Romney on Education Issues
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Mitt Romney, Republican candidate for president, has named University of Arkansas professor Robert Costrell to his advisory committee on education.
Costrell holds the Twenty-First Century Chair in Education Accountability in the College of Education and Health Professions. He joined the faculty in 2006 after a career in education and public service that included seven years in major policy roles for three governors of Massachusetts. He was then-Gov. Romney’s education adviser.
Costrell worked closely with all three governors and Commissioner of Education David Driscoll throughout the period when Massachusetts’ education accountability reforms, based on exit exams, went into effect. He also helped develop Romney’s comprehensive education reform proposal of 2005 to advance accountability to the next level in Massachusetts.
Romney’s campaign said his Education Policy Advisory Group comprises 19 individuals with “deep and diverse experience in a variety of roles across K-12 education, postsecondary education, and workforce training in both the public and private sectors.”
Costrell was named a fellow in education reform at the George W. Bush Institute last year and previously served on the National Technical Advisory Council as an appointee of former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. He holds a doctorate in economics from Harvard. Much of his research centers on teacher pension reform.
“Gov. Romney has always placed a very high priority on education policy,” Costrell said. “My service in his administration was a very rewarding experience that helped Massachusetts achieve very strong educational progress. So, I am honored to have the opportunity to help Gov. Romney advance the national agenda on education policy in the federal context.”
University of Arkansas policy states that university employees have the right to engage in political activity. Costrell is not being paid for the advisory role in Romney’s campaign.
In the past, University of Arkansas faculty members have served in a variety of advisory roles to presidential campaigns, including several who advised then-Gov. Bill Clinton’s campaign for president in 1992. Numerous political science students have served internships with presidential campaigns as well.
Others in the advisory group include Rod Paige, the former U.S. Secretary of Education, who gave the College of Education and Health Professions’ commencement address on May 12; Grover “Russ” Whitehurst, senior fellow and director of the Brookings Institution’s Brown Center on Education Policy; Tom Luna, Idaho superintendent of public instruction since 2007 and president of the Council of Chief State School Officers (2011-present); Phil Handy, chief executive officer of Strategic Industries and former chairman of the Florida State Board of Education (2001-07); and Martin R. West, assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and executive editor of Education Next.
“I am proud to announce the support of this impressive group of policy leaders who are devoted to expanding educational opportunities for students,” Romney said in a news release. “Our education system is failing too many of our kids, and I look forward to working closely with these leaders to chart a new course that emphasizes school choice and accountability, the importance of great teachers, and access to quality, affordable higher education.”