About Us

Knowledge Matters


Restoring Wonder and Excitement to the Classroom

Knowledge Matters is a campaign to make building knowledge Job One for American education.

Nearly every major educational goal—from improving reading comprehension and critical thinking to problem solving and creativity—is knowledge based. Without a solid foundation of content knowledge built from the first days of school, higher academic standards and better student outcomes will not be achieved. Fifty years of research definitively shows that knowledge is vital to language comprehension—the starting line for all other learning and analysis. Broad, shared knowledge is vital to citizenship, too, yet the curriculum of many schools has narrowed. To address this challenge, we must ensure that history, science, geography, art, music, and more are generously taught to all students, especially those least likely to gain such knowledge outside school.

Steering Committee

Leslye Arsht
Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of StandardsWork

Michael Casserly
Executive Director of the Council of the Great City Schools

Ron Fairchild
Chief Executive Officer of the Smarter Learning Group and Senior Consultant for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

Chester E. Finn, Jr.
Distinguished Senior Fellow and President Emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Kaya Henderson
Former Chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools

E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
Founder of the Core Knowledge Foundation

Joel Klein
Chief Policy and Strategy Officer of Oscar Health Insurance and former Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education

Ralph Smith
Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and Managing Director for the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

David Steiner
Executive Director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy and former New York State Commissioner of Education

It’s time to restore history, science, geography, art, music, and more to the education we give all students, especially those least likely to gain such knowledge outside school. Greater comprehension, critical thinking, and equality will be our reward.

Barbara Davidson
Executive Director, as well as President of StandardsWork


Scientific Advisory Board

Marilyn Jager Adams
Visiting Scholar, Brown University

Donald Compton
Professor of Psychology and Education, and Associate Director, Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University

Anne Cunningham
Professor and Head Graduate Adviser, Cognition and Development, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley

Nell K. Duke
Professor of Literacy, Language, and Culture, Combined Program in Education and Psychology, University of Michigan

Claude Goldenberg
Nomellini & Olivier Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, Stanford University

David Klahr
Walter van Dyke Bingham Professor of Cognitive Development and Education Sciences, Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

Danielle McNamara
Professor, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University

Susan Neuman
Professor, Early Childhood and Literacy Development, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, New York University

Timothy Shanahan
Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Urban Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago

Daniel Willingham
Professor of Psychology, University of Virginia