Stephen Coffin’s Profile

My passion is education especially school finance, policy, governance, and reform.  Our schools have never been as challenged or as scapegoated as they are today, therefore, I enjoy developing solutions to solve the problems confronting our educational system.  I welcome your comments at




I enrolled in Rutgers University’s Ph.D. in education program with a concentration in Educational Theory, Organization, and Policy because I want to become a university professor who’s engaged in research, writing, and teaching.  After 25 years in the business world, I have devoted the past six years to my passion for school finance and educational policy research.  I have been interested in educational leadership, finance, and policy for many years even before I gave up my business career to pursue it on a full time basis.  In fact, I was first attracted to it while earning a Masters of Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University in 1977, where I conducted a study of the American educational system funded by the United Nations.  Since returning to the field, I have been engaged in teaching for Montclair State University’s Graduate School of Education, publishing, and performing education-focused consulting services.  


As an Adjunct Professor with Montclair State University’s Graduate School of Education, I teach prospective superintendents, business administrators, principals, teachers, and other school personnel as well as students making a career transition into education for the School Business Administrator Certification and the Educational Leadership Programs.  My course offerings include:

  • School Finance 
  • School Human Resources Administration
  • Educational Facilities Planning and Management
  • Educational Leadership 

Since immersing myself in the field of education full time, I have conducted original research including two chapters I co-authored with Dr. Bruce Cooper concerning data-based decision making and truancy which are found in T. J. Kowalski and T. J. Lasley II, editors, Handbook of Data-based Decision Making in Education and in M. P. Conolly and D. O’Keefe, editors, Don’t Fence Me In.  In addition, I have written on various education topics that have been published in Key Post, a New Jersey Association of School Business Officials (NJASBO) journal.  These articles are Our Schools are not Factories in the October, 2008, issue, Under-funded Education Mandates Hurt Public Education in the January, 2009, issue, Local School Districts Mean Better Education in the April, 2009, issue, Accountability:  An Argument for Local School Districts in the January, 2010, issue, Smaller Class Sizes Close the Achievement Gap in the April, 2010, issue, and School Vouchers:  Choosing to Level Down Education in the July, 2010, issue.  

In my most ambitious project to date, with the help of Dr. Bruce Cooper, my formal book proposal, whose working title is Reclaiming Local Control of Public Education ~ Cases and Considerations for Education Reform, was accepted by publisher.  The book focuses on how accountability is determined by a school district’s control structure.  Locality is critical because school districts nationwide need a control structure that will address the shortcomings of state dominated educational systems.   

From this structural perspective, the book explains how the public would be better able to hold its local school system accountable by adopting the control structure that best suits its unique characteristics.  When finished the book will evaluate a number of governance models including:

  • Traditional Elected Board of Education Control Model
  • Mayoral Control Model
  • Charter School Model including religious charter and parochial schools
  • Voucher Model
  • School Choice Model
  • Disaggregation Model
  • Self-governing Local School District Model
  • State dominated school systems
  • County dominated school systems 

Finally, I write opinion pieces for my school finance-focused blog, Coffin’s Education Center,, and contribute to two other education-related blogs.  In addition, I serve on the NJASBO Editorial Review Board, NJASBO Legislative Network Committee, and the Politics of Education Association Scholarship and Service Awards Committee.  Also, I serve on the Academic Advisory Board for Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Educational Issues, James Noll, editor.  

In addition to my teaching and writing, I provide consulting services to K-12 public school districts and independent schools.  I served as a School Business Administrator after graduating from the NJASBO training program.  I have been involved in community volunteer leadership, especially education committees, as well as working with my local board of education and school district central office in development and planning for the Primary Centers capital project and strategic plan. 


Policy makers formulate policy that affects all aspects of education.  These decisions usually have long lasting implications for the educational system.  The policies are developed often without a clear understanding of their consequences.  I believe by earning my Ph.D. in education, I will be better able to perform the kind quantitative and qualitative research that will enable me to generate the conclusions which policy makers will not only accept but also translate into policies with a more comprehensive understanding of their consequences.  

In addition to learning more about education policy and research techniques, I would like to join a research-oriented university faculty upon earning my Ph.D.  In this capacity, I would conduct research and then write articles, publish books, and make oral presentations based on the findings.  I would incorporate my research into my course content so that my students could benefit.  Having enjoyed these things over the past six years, I look forward to earning my Ph.D. and completing the Ph.D. program that will provide me with the training to succeed as a research-oriented university professor.

6 Responses to “Stephen Coffin’s Profile”

  1. John Coviello says:

    I just wanted to leave a comment to get your comments rolling. I think it is great that you are so passionate about these pressing issues facing our educational institutions today. See you in class.

  2. I look forward to reading your website. GL

  3. Congratulations and thanks for your new blog, Steve.

  4. Pat Calhoun says:

    Congratulations and good luck, Steve. Thanks for your passion and dedication to public education.

  5. Tom O'Rourke says:

    I will look forward to readingon an on-going basis.

  6. Bob Sheehan says:


    You are just where you belong, in an area
    that has been your passion for the years
    I have known you, and at the right time
    when your interests are most needed.

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