Jesse Rhodes

Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Chapter Member: Boston SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Jesse

Rhodes’ expertise lies in the politics of K-12 education policymaking in the United States. He has studied the origins and development of standards, testing, and accountability policies at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as citizens’ responses to and attitudes about these policies. He also studies how presidents relate to their political parties, and how this affects the development and implementation of public policies. He has worked with the U.S. State Department on a variety of programs to educate foreign students about American politics.

No Jargon Podcast

In the News

Jesse Rhodes quoted by Dylan Matthews, "Studies: Democratic Politicians Represent Middle-Class Voters. GOP Politicians Don’t." Vox, April 2, 2018.
"How Oregon Increased Voter Turnout More than Any Other State," Jesse Rhodes (with Sean McElwee and Brian Schaffner), The Nation, July 27, 2017.
"Why Did Trump Win? More Whites - and Fewer Blacks - Actually Voted.," Jesse Rhodes (with Sean McElwee, Bernard L. Fraga, and Brian Schaffner), The Washington Post, May 8, 2017.
"How ‘Voter Fraud’ Crusades Undermine Voting Rights," Jesse Rhodes, The Conversation, February 1, 2017.
"Violence Has Long Been a Feature of American Elections," Jesse Rhodes, The Conversation, November 7, 2016.
"Is America More Divided by Race or Class?," Jesse Rhodes (with Sean McElwee and Brian Schaffner), The Washington Post, October 12, 2016.
"Explainer: Why are Schools Adopting the Common Core?," Jesse Rhodes, The Conversation, October 28, 2014.
"Heed King's Lesson: Only Congress Can Preserve Voting Rights," Jesse Rhodes (with Avi Green), Talking Points Memo, January 20, 2014.


An Education in Politics: The Origins and Evolution of No Child Left Behind (Cornell University Press, 2012).
Explains the uneven development of federal involvement in education. While supporters of expanded federal involvement enjoyed some success in bringing new ideas to the federal policy agenda, they also encountered stiff resistance from proponents of local control. Built atop existing decentralized policies, new federal reforms raised difficult questions about which level of government bore ultimate responsibility for improving schools. My argument focuses on the role played by civil rights activists, business leaders, and education experts in promoting the reforms that would be enacted with federal policies such as No Child Left Behind.
"Progressive Policymaking in a Conservative Age? Civil Rights and the Politics of Federal Education Standards, Testing, and Accountability" Perspectives on Politics 9, no. 3 (2011): 519-544.
Examines the rise of standards, testing, accountability, and limited school choice policies in federal education policymaking, which are widely viewed as embodying the same conservative interests and ideologies that have shaped policymaking in other areas and shows that certain civil rights organizations, not conservative forces, provided much of the impetus for these reforms, which they viewed as measures for raising the achievement of disadvantaged students. Tracing the origins and consequences of these policies, my research reveals that entrepreneurial progressives can achieve significant legislative successes that they believe will accomplish progressive objectives.