David J. Menefee-Libey

William A. Johnson Professor of Government; Professor of Politics; Coordinator of Public Policy Analysis
With Pomona Since: 1989
  • Expertise


    David Menefee-Libey is the William A. Johnson Professor of Government and professor of politics at Pomona College in Claremont, California, where he has taught since 1989.

    Before joining the Pomona College faculty, he worked for the Community Renewal Society in Chicago, was a research fellow at the Brookings Institution, and worked as a policy researcher for the RAND Corporation.

    He's won the Wig Distinguished Teaching Award seven times, chaired the Politics Department, and served as coordinator of the program in Public Policy Analysis. In 1999-2000, he was a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Limerick in Ireland.

    Prof. Menefee-Libey has long been engaged in community life at The Claremont Colleges and the surrounding area. He was a faculty resident at Pomona College from 1996-99. In the 1990s and 2000s, he both refereed and coached youth soccer in Claremont. He has served since 2012 on the governing council of the Napier Initiative, a partnership between the local Pilgrim Place retirement community and the five undergraduate Claremont Colleges to sustain intergenerational mentoring and encourage leadership for social change. He taught for several summers in the Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS).

    From 1984 through 2006, he conducted research on U.S. campaigns and elections, and his publications included The Triumph of Campaign Centered Politics (CQ Press, 2000). For several years he frequently analyzed and commentated on national politics for KPCC (the station now known as LAist), a National Public Radio affiliate serving the Los Angeles region.

    Since 1987, he's also investigated elementary and secondary education policy in the United States. He published several books and reports with his long-time colleague Charles Kerchner, including Learning from LA: Institutional Change in American Public Education (Harvard Education Press, 2008). He has also published work on the politics of reform in Chicago Public Schools, including a chapter in Katrina Bulkley, Jeffrey Henig, and Henry Levin’s edited volume Between Public and Private (Harvard Education Press, 2010).

    In the 2010s, he published research on civic education and textbooks in the United States, and their selective blindness toward the role of business corporations in American politics.

    His teaching has recently turned toward the challenges of building and sustaining liberal democracy and the rule of law in the United States amid political polarization, and large and growing economic inequality.

    His current research compares and contrasts public and private institutions in K-12 education, including the interplay between traditional public schools and charter schools.

    He lives in Claremont, California with his family.

    Research Interests

    • Politics of elementary and secondary education reform

    Areas of Expertise

    • Elementary and secondary education policy
    • School reform politics
    • U.S. politics and culture
  • Work


    One Cheer for Schools on Inequality,” EdWeek’s “On California” blog, March 20, 2015.

    “What We Know vs. What We Teach about American Politics and Public Policy,” Journal of Political Science Education, forthcoming in 2015.

    David Menefee-Libey, Charles Herman, Chad Powell, and Jeffrey Zalesin, “The Real World of Interdependence of Governments and Corporations: What We Know vs. What We Teach,” University of Utah Law Review, Vol. 2014, no. 4 (2014), symposium volume “Governing the United States in 2020,” 927-949.

    “Neoliberal School Reform in Chicago? Renaissance 2010, Portfolios of Schools, and Diverse Providers,” in Katrina E. Bulkley, Jeffrey R. Henig, and Henry M. Levin, eds., Between Public and Private: Politics, Governance, and the New Portfolio Models for Urban School Reform (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2010).

    Paul Hill, Christine Campbell, David Menefee-Libey, Brianna Dusseault, Michael DeArmond, and Betheny Gross,Portfolio School Districts for Big Cities: An Interim Report (Seattle, WA: Center for Reinventing Public Education, 2009).

    Charles Kerchner, David Menefee-Libey, Laura Mulfinger and Stephanie Clayton, Learning from LA: Institutional Change in American Public Education (Harvard Education Press, 2008).

    David Menefee-Libey, Charles T. Kerchner and Laura Mulfinger, “The Persistence of Ideas in Los Angeles Public School Reform,” in William L. Boyd, Charles T. Kerchner and Mark Blyth, eds., The Transformation of Great American School Districts: How Big Cities are Reshaping the Institution of Public Education (Harvard Education Press, 2008).

    David Menefee-Libey, "Big Deal: The 2006 Midterm Elections, the Progressive Project, and the Reagan-Bush Revolution," The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, vol. 4, Issue 3 (December 2006).

    David Menefee-Libey, "Systemic reform in a federated system: Los Angeles at the turn of the millennium,"Education Policy Analysis Archives, 12(60), October 2004).

    Singer, Jeremy, Julie A. Marsh, David Menefee-Libey, Jacob Alonso, Dwuana Bradley, and Hanora Tracy. “The Politics of School Reopening During COVID-19: A Multiple Case Study of Five Urban Districts in the 2020–21 School Year.” Educational Administration Quarterly 59, no. 3 (August 2023): 542–93. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013161X231168397.

    Menefee-Libey, David, Carolyn Herrington, Kyoung-Jun Choi, Julie Marsh, and Katrina Bulkley. (2023). “Bending Without Breaking - COVID-19 Tests the Resilience of State Education Policymaking Institutions.” (EdWorkingPaper: 23-888). Online at the Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/rph8-8j04

    “Teaching Politics in the United States in the Age of COVID-19,” Pomona Magazine, Spring/Summer 2020, pp. 64-65. Online at http://magazine.pomona.edu/2020/spring-summer/teaching-politics-in-the-united-states-in-the-age-of-covid-19/.

  • Education


    Bachelor of Arts 
    St. Olaf College
    Northfield, Minnesota

    Master of Arts, Ph.D. 
    University of Chicago
    Chicago, Illinois

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Democracy and Citizenship in Contemporary America
    • Introduction to American Politics
    • The United States Congress
    • Campaigns and Elections
    • Public Policy Implementation & Evaluation
    • Education Politics & Policy
    • Policy Making for Education (taught at Claremont Graduate University)
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    • John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation Faculty Fellowship, “Local Control Accountability Plans and Los Angeles Charter School Community Engagement in the COVID Era,” 2022.
    • Pomona College, Wig Distinguished Professor Award for Excellence in Teaching, 1992, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2018 and 2023
    • “2010 Outstanding Publication Award,” the American Educational Research Association’s “Districts in Research and Reform” section, for Charles T. Kerchner, David Menefee-Libey, Laura Mulfinger and Stephanie Clayton, Learning from LA: Institutional Change in American Public Education (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education Press, 2008).
    • John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation, Faculty Fellowship, "Conditions of K-12 Education in the Los Angeles Region: An Annual Report to Inform Public Debate on School Quality and Reform," 2002
    • Visiting Fulbright Professor, University of Limerick, Ireland, 1999-2000
    • Brookings Institution, Hartley Fellowship in Governmental Studies, 1986-1987