Dr. Lori Taylor has been at the Bush School of Government and Public Service since June 2003 and has led the School’s Mosbacher Institute for Trade, Economics, and Public Policy since January 2014. She was recently named Head of the Department of Public Service and Administration.
She holds a PhD and a master’s degree in economics from the University of Rochester, in addition to bachelors’ degrees in economics and business administration from the University of Kansas.
During her fifteen years at the Bush School, Dr. Taylor has taught primarily public finance, microeconomics for public policy, and education policy. She says one of her favorite parts of teaching is “seeing the light come on in the back of someone’s eyes” when they start to understand whatever concept is being discussed.
A noted researcher, education policy is Dr. Taylor’s special area of interest. She is currently working on a number of projects related to education and finance issues and has conducted research on behalf of policymakers in a number of states, including Kansas; Wyoming; North Carolina; Florida; and, of course, Texas.
“My research focuses on a range of education finance issues, in particular looking at the design of school funding for Texas and other states,” she said.
All these problems center around the issue of ways to allocate scarce resources effectively so states can ensure that institutional structures support and facilitate the decisions made by school districts to accomplish their goals.
“I firmly believe that nearly all schools are trying really hard to help students achieve, but I also recognize they don’t always know what the best strategy would be and that there are better practices elsewhere,” said Dr. Taylor.
One project that examined regional cost adjustment on behalf of the National Center for Education Statistics has earned Dr. Taylor national visibility. This research sought to ensure that funding formulas equalized the resources in the classroom, not just the dollars allocated to each classroom.
“A dollar doesn’t stretch as far in some locations,” said Dr. Taylor. “What looked like equal money will not lead to the same level of quality staffing in one place as it might somewhere else.”
A member of the Board of Directors for the Association for Education Finance and Policy, Dr. Taylor is also the principal investigator for the Texas Smart Schools Initiative and is a member of the Editorial Board for AERA Open.
Dr. Taylor is one of two researchers at the School who focus on education policy. While she will continue her research efforts, Dr. Taylor will face a new set of challenges in her position as department head. She is particularly interested in managing growth at the Bush School by deepening the applicant pool so the School can maintain its current standard for high-quality graduates.
This new role will take Dr. Taylor out of the classroom for a while, but she hopes she will be back teaching soon.
“I enjoy teaching,” said Dr. Taylor. “And I’m told I’m pretty good at it.”
She particularly enjoys engaging with students. “I’m a frustrated stand-up comic, and I like having an audience who knows if they don’t laugh at my jokes, they don’t pass,” she joked. She added that she enjoys the presentation aspects of the job and interacting with students during class and office hours.