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#AskExcelinEd: Why I care about education policy

• Sam Duell


During our #AskExcelinEd Summer Learning series, you’ll get to know some of ExcelinEd’s team as they share what they are learning over the summer. Remember to join us on social media to ask your burning policy questions. Enjoy!

ExcelinEd.Headshot.SamDuell.webMeet Sam Duell

ExcelinEd’s Associate Policy Director for Charter Schools

I’m a teacher and school administrator turned policy enthusiast. I care most about policy mechanisms that empower people to urgently address their most pressing challenges. That includes public charter schools.

I Prefer…

Print Book over E-Book

Text over Phone Call

Coffee over Tea

What I’m Reading

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 

A thrilling adventure by J.K. Rowling, this fantastical novel reminds us that, just like Harry, it’s important to do your own analysis.

My Favorite Quote

My mama always said, “Kids are people, too. If you treat kids like they’re smart, then they will be.”

What Inspires Me

In her recent book Democracy: Stories from the long road to freedom, Dr. Condoleezza Rice provides an important reminder: the founders of our country were skeptical that our nation could overcome slavery, but the Constitution has allowed American democracy to evolve.

Our Constitution—the foundation of our government and society—empowers us to address real problems. The idea that we have some agency, some influence on the direction of our nation is incredibly inspiring, and it continues to drive me.

Thought Starter


Research I’m Reading


ExcelinEd Resource Highlight

I’m most proud of my blog about why people start public charter schools. A short, 466-word read that describes seven genesis stories from seven states. Public charter schools allow families and communities to address local, urgent needs.

About the author

Sam Duell

Before Sam joined ExcelinEd as the Associate Policy Director for Charter Schools, he was a special education teacher, a school and central office administrator, the Executive Director of School Choice at Oklahoma’s department of education and the Managing Director of OPSRC’s Education Collaborative. In every position, Sam worked creatively to meet student needs. He founded the Integrated Support Program at Fischer Middle School in San Jose, California to increase the number and percentage of students with learning disabilities who have access to the general education classroom. He was the first administrator of Oklahoma’s Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, the authorizer for online schools in Oklahoma. And he co-founded a statewide afterschool network called the Oklahoma Partnership for Expanded Learning to organize and advocate for expanded learning opportunities after school and during the summer. Sam’s current interests include charter schools and their role in a functional, thriving democracy.