Month: February 2016

Research for Action Appoints David Lapp as Director of Policy Research

Research for Action is excited to announce the appointment of David Lapp as its new Director of Policy Research. For the past seven years David has served as a Staff Attorney at the Education Law Center, where he represented dozens of families on a variety of education law issues and led a range of efforts to address inequity in education policy at the local, state and national levels. David brings particular expertise in school finance, student discipline, special education, school governance, and charter school law.

“By bringing an attorney of David’s stature to RFA, we begin an important new chapter in RFA’s policy research capacity,” said Executive Director Kate Shaw. “David’s strong track record of providing insightful, effective legal analysis on issues of central importance to Pennsylvania’s public schools will allow us to continue to strengthen our efforts to use rigorous research as a tool to ensure that all children have access to high quality education.”

David has devoted his career to education and child justice. Prior to obtaining his law degree from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, David served as a middle and high school social studies teacher at two Philadelphia charter schools. He has also taught GED and Adult Basic Education in Philadelphia schools and libraries and previously coordinated programming at an emergency youth shelter.

“I am thrilled to be joining RFA,” said David. “I look forward to combining my knowledge of education law with the deep research expertise of RFA’s talented staff.”

David Lapp’s appointment at RFA begins on March 29th. For more information, please contact Kate Shaw at

RFA Community Schools Op-Ed Published in Philadelphia Public School Notebook

Mayor Kenney’s first major policy announcement centered on plans to develop 25 community schools across Philadelphia, but the transition from school to comprehensive community hub requires a significant shift in mission and practice. RFA’s Mark Duffy and Della Jenkins explore what local policy-makers can learn from the experiences of other districts that have invested in the community schools approach with varying results.  Published today in the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, the op-ed focuses on the importance of inclusive planning, shared goals, and transparent metrics for the success of the community school model. Read more here.

RFA’s Kate Shaw Presents at the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia with Otis Hackney

RFA’s Executive Director, Kate Shaw, was a guest speaker at the Philanthropy Network of Greater Philadelphia’s Education Funders Roundtable last Tuesday, February 9, 2016. She discussed the research on community schools, including key findings and insights from RFA’s recently published policy brief, “Community Schools in Practice: Research on Implementation and Impact.”

Kate was joined by Otis Hackney, Chief Education Officer for the Mayor’s Office of Philadelphia, who spoke about the City’s key education-related initiatives, including their strategy for creating 25 community schools.

RFA Commentary Featured in Education Week

Despite lackluster results from the “Recovery” and “Achievement” school districts in Louisiana and Tennessee, both Pennsylvania and Georgia are poised to adopt sweeping school turnaround plans modeled in their image. RFA’s Kate Shaw and Adam Schott co-authored an op-ed on the topic in last Thursday’s print edition of Education Week, featured today on their homepage, with researchers from the Southern Education Foundation. In it, RFA makes the case that lawmakers should be wary of punitive, one-size-fits-all state takeovers and instead prioritize promising community-schools models and research-based strategies, such as extended-day learning, site-based health services, and quality early education to boost student achievement in underfunded and underperforming districts. Read more here.