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In Memoriam: Margaret Weston

Mark Baldassare July 29, 2014

It is with profound sadness that I share the news that a beloved PPIC colleague, Maggie Weston, has passed away. Maggie was 32 years old—an accomplished educator and policy researcher with boundless potential. My colleagues and I are shocked and heartbroken at this sudden loss. We extend our deepest sympathies to Maggie’s family.

All of us who knew Maggie were awed by her passion for her work. A champion of children, she dedicated her career to improving educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth. As a Teach for America instructor in Baltimore, Maggie experienced first-hand the systemic problems facing public education and sought to be a part of the solution. When she joined PPIC six years ago as a research associate—equipped with master’s degrees in teaching (Johns Hopkins University) and public policy (University of Michigan)—she said she wanted to make a difference on a larger scale.

At PPIC, Maggie brought her intellect and work ethic to the critical, then-unrecognized, topic of school finance in California. Describing the system as inequitable, inadequate, and overly complex, she authored more than a dozen publications documenting its problems and outlining clear steps toward addressing its shortcomings. She bridged the gap between the research and policy communities and created the common knowledge that resulted in important policy change. Her rigorous and objective work helped to provide the basis for the new Local Control Funding Formula, approved as part of the state budget last year.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to public policy research and in anticipation of her Ph.D. (expected in 2015 from UC Davis), Maggie became a research fellow in 2012. She continued to specialize in education finance, determined to evaluate and communicate the real-world impacts of local control on students. She met with PTAs and community groups across the state, convinced that empowering them with information would help ensure a new level of transparency and engagement in public education.

The impact Maggie had on her colleagues, educators, and the policy community is a testament to her intensity, her intelligence, and above all, her integrity. We will miss her dearly.

Maggie’s family has scheduled a memorial service this Thursday at 2 p.m. in Sacramento. Details of the service and an online guest book are available at http://www.eastlawn.com/obituaries-services.html?obituary_id=1039856

Sincerely,

Mark

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