Joe Nathan is senior fellow at the University of Minnesota Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and director of the Center for School Change. Initiated with a $2.3 million grant from the Grand Rapids, Minnesota-based Blandin Foundation, the center works with communities and schools to make significant improvements in public education and was recently awarded a total of $4 million to help continue its work from the Blandin Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, and the University of Minnesota.
Nathan holds a B.A. degree (1970) in government and international relations from Carleton College and an M.A. degree (1977) and a Ph.D. degree (1981) in educational administration from the University of Minnesota. His areas of specialization include parent involvement, school choice, charter schools, youth service, and the use of technology in schools. He has been an aide, teacher, and administrator with the Wichita, Minneapolis, and St. Paul Public Schools. He has been president of PTA at his children's public school and a member of the Minnesota State PTA Board. His first book, Free to Teach: Achieving Equity and Excellence in Schools (1983) was distributed by Senator David Durenberger to each U.S. Senator. His second book, Micro-Myths: Exploring the Limits of Learning with Computers (1985), was selected by the National School Boards Association as one of ten “must reading” books in 1985. Nathan is also the editor of Public Schools by Choice: Expanding Opportunities for Parents, Students and Teachers (1989), writes a weekly column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Rochester Post-Bulletin, and Duluth News Tribune, and has written guest columns for such newspapers as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Christian Science Monitor and for various educational magazines. He has served on the board of the Minnesota Educational Computer Corporation and the editorial board of Phi Delta Kappan magazine, and he has taught graduate courses at the University of St. Thomas and University of Minnesota.