Gerard Robinson, Ed.M., Fellow

Fellow of Practice at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia

Gerard Robinson is a Fellow of Practice at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Robinson writes about K-12 and higher education, public policy, economic mobility, afterschool programs, and race. Examples include his coedited books Education for Liberation: The Politics of Promise and Reform Inside and Beyond America’s Prisons (2019), and Education Savings Accounts: The New Frontier in School Choice (2017), and research reports funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation. He also cohosts The Learning Curve podcast to discuss educational topics with scholars, practitioners, entrepreneurs, and 13 Pulitzer Prize winners. He has been published or quoted in CNN Opinion, Forbes, Newsweek, The Hill, The New York Times, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and US News & World Report

From 2017 to 2020, Robinson was Executive Director of the Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO). CAO was a Washington, D.C.-based research and education initiative created by a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Charles Koch Foundation, and Koch Industries. In that role, he oversaw an $11 million investment into evidence-based solutions to the most pressing education, entrepreneurship, and criminal justice issues throughout the United States by working with faculty and students at HBCUs and other postsecondary institutions. He also managed the process with Gallup researchers to gather opinions about education, criminal justice, and economic mobility from a national representative sample of more than 18,000 residents living in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Results from the research projects were published in The State of Opportunity in America Report in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Prior to his work at CAO, Robinson worked as a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. beginning in 2015 and currently maintains that status. 

From 2011 to 2012, Robinson served as Commissioner of Education for the State of Florida, where he managed 3,000 employees dispersed over several divisions. In addition to supporting the education initiatives of Governor Rick Scott, Robinson assisted in the development of a $16 billion education budget, and instituted for the first time in a decade new achievement level scores for grades three through ten in reading and grades three through eight in mathematics. He also chaired a task force to improve opportunities for English learners and students with special needs, adopted new competency and skill standards for STEM teacher certification, developed new pre- and post-assessment measures for the voluntary pre-K program, and approved several new degree programs for the Florida College System. 

Before working for the State of Florida, Robinson served as Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to supporting the education initiatives of Governor Bob McDonnell, he provided guidance to 16 public universities, the community college system, five higher education and research centers, the Department of Education, and state-supported museums. Robinson managed the governor’s Opportunity to Learn agenda in 2010, which produced new laws for traditional public schools, virtual schools, charter schools, and college laboratory schools. In 2011, he directed the Top Jobs for the 21st Century agenda, which produced the Virginia Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011 to support conferral of 100,000 additional degrees by 2025. 

Between 2005 and 2010, Robinson was a Program Director and later the President of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, which was a Washington, DC-based nonprofit organization that supported federal and state parental choice policies empowering low-income and working-class black families.  

Robinson is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a national board member of the Afterschool Alliance, America Succeeds, GOAL Scholarship, iCivics, Resilience Education, Respectability, and Transcend, Inc. He has spoken before academic, government, and corporate audiences in the United States, at Oxford University in England, and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. His international education tours also include travel to China, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, Gambia, Germany, Haiti, Israel, and Senegal.  

Robinson earned an Ed.M. from Harvard University, a B.A. from Howard University, and an A.A. from El Camino Community College. He is married and has three daughters.