Dorn formal portrait August 2014

Sherman Dorn has devoted his adult life to questioning our central assumptions about education. Do we think clearly about education, or are we confused? Whether the topic is today’s school accountability policy or the history of dropping out, Professor Dorn brings a unique perspective to examining the history and politics of education. His work points out how inconsistent we are in education policy, demanding that we face those inconsistencies and talk more openly and clearly about what we expect from schools and how schools can change.

Sherman Dorn’s books trace how our society defines school problems and how those definitions shape education policy. In Creating the Dropout (1996), he points out that dropping out became defined as a crisis in the 1960s when the proportion of teens graduating from high school had been rising for years. In Accountability Frankenstein (2007), he explains how we have come to distrust schoolteachers but trust test scores. In each case, he documents the inconsistencies in education policy and how popular thinking leads to unproductive education policy. Trained formally both as an historian and a demographer, Sherman Dorn spent three years as a postdoctoral researcher at Vanderbilt University, assisting special education researchers in Tennessee classrooms as well as conducting his own research in the history of special education. From 1996 to 2014, he taught social-science and humanities perspectives on education at the University of South Florida. During 2004-2009, he was editor of Education Policy Analysis Archives, one of the main peer-reviewed education policy journals in the United States and a pioneer in electronic publication.
From July 2014 to December 2020, he was the Director of the Division of Educational Leadership and Innovation at Arizona State University’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

In addition to writing books on dropping out and accountability, Sherman Dorn is the coeditor of books on school communities and Florida education policy, the author of several articles and book chapters on the history of special education, and several pieces on academic freedom in higher education.

Sherman Dorn lives in Tempe, Arizona, with his wife and some pets who order us around.