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Katharine Strunk - Michigan State University. East Lansing, MI, US

Katharine Strunk Katharine Strunk

Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education and Professor of Education Policy and, by courtesy, Economics | Michigan State University


Education policy expert focusing on the impacts and implementation of state and district policy.







Katharine Strunk on Quality Teachers for All Students Katharine Strunk on The Effectiveness of New Teacher Screening and Hiring in LAUSD Katharine Strunk: The impacts of tenure reforms on the teacher workforce



Katharine Strunk is a professor of education policy and, by courtesy, Economics, and the Clifford E. Erickson Distinguished Chair in Education. She is also co-director of the Michigan State University Education Policy Innovation Collaborative (EPIC) and an associate editor of the journal Education Finance and Policy. Strunk’s research is focused on three areas under the broad umbrella of K-12 education governance: teachers’ unions and the collective bargaining agreements they negotiate with school districts, teacher evaluation and compensation, and accountability policies. Rooted in the fields of economics and public policy, Strunk’s work centers on structures that are central to district operations and policy and the ways these structures affect policymakers’ decisions and outcomes. Her recent work includes studying teacher labor market responses to policy reforms in Michigan, teacher and school accountability and support policies in the Los Angeles Unified School District and throughout Michigan, and portfolio management reforms in LA, Denver and New Orleans.

Industry Expertise (4)

Public Policy



Writing and Editing

Areas of Expertise (5)

School Turnaround

Teacher Evaluation

Teacher unions and collective bargaining agreements

Teacher Labor Markets

Compensation and Accountability

Education (3)

Stanford University: Ph.D., Educational Administration and Policy Analysis

Stanford University: M.A., Economics

Princeton University: B.A., Public Policy

Research Grants (5)

Competency-Based Education in Michigan: Shifting Instructional Practice to Promote Learning and Engagement.

The Hewlett Foundation 

Co-Principal Investigator with Josh Cowen (Michigan State University)

The National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH Center)

U.S. Department of Education, Institute for Education Sciences 

Co-Principal Investigator with Doug Harris (PI, Tulane University), Josh Cowen (Michigan State University), Julie Marsh (University of Southern California) and Amy Ellen Schwartz (Syracuse University)

Survey of Partnership Districts

Michigan Department of Education 

Co-Principal Investigator with Josh Cowen (Michigan State University) and Chris Torres (Michigan State University)

Can Michigan Show the Nation How to Turn Around Failing Schools? A Research-Policy Partnership Approach in Michigan

Smith Richardson Foundation 

Co-Principal Investigator with Josh Cowen (Michigan State University) and Venessa Keesler (Michigan Department of Education)

The New “One Best System?”: Urban Governance and Educational Practice in the Portfolio Management Model

The Spencer Foundation 

Co-Principal Investigator with Dr. Julie Marsh (University of Southern California), Dr. Katy Bulkley (Montclair State University) and Dr. Doug Harris (Tulane University)

Journal Articles (1)

The bad end of the bargain?: Revisiting the relationship between collective bargaining agreements and student achievement Economics of Education Review

Bradley D Marianno, Katharine Strunk


This paper revisits the relationship between teacher collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) and student achievement. Using a district-level dataset of California teacher CBAs that includes measures of overall and subarea contract strength linked to district-level panel data, we build on prior work by controlling for unobserved fixed and time-varying confounders. This study demonstrates that naïve pooled OLS estimates of student achievement on overall CBA strength are larger and more negative than lagged achievement and within-district estimates, signifying a negative bias in the naïve levels models. When controlling for time invariant and time-varying unobservables, the relationship between CBA strength and student achievement is persistently negative and small, or null, but never significantly positive. This relationship extends to specific CBA subareas and to subgroups of students. These findings have important implications for new reforms designed to weaken teacher collective bargaining rights.

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