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Photo of Tozer, Steve

Steve Tozer, PhD

Professor Emeritus

Educational Policy Studies


Prior to his retirement in 2018, Dr. Steve Tozer was Professor and University Scholar in Educational Policy Studies at the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), founding Director of the UIC Center for Urban Education Leadership, and founding Coordinator of the UIC Ed.D. Program in Urban Education Leadership. Earning degrees from Dartmouth College, Loyola University, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Steve began his career as a Hull House kindergarten teacher and director of a community-based early childhood center in Uptown Chicago, later directing an alternative HS for Cook County Corrections. In higher education, he chaired the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at UIUC; the Department of Educational Policy Studies at UIC; the Governor’s Council on Educator Quality in Illinois; and a State Legislative Task Force that resulted in a new state school leadership certificate. His collaborations with colleagues from UIC and Chicago Public Schools were continuously funded for 18 years by numerous philanthropic foundations, the US Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation. He is author or co-author of over 60 journal articles and book chapters, lead author of a textbook, School and Society, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 8th Edition (McGraw-Hill, 2021), and lead editor of The Handbook of Research in Social Foundations of Education (Routledge, 2011). His current work focuses on research-practice partnerships for continuous improvement in schools, and he is co-author of three recent books on school leadership and school improvement, listed below.  Steve is called upon regularly to address national audiences convened by the National Governor’s Association, National Council for State Legislatures, the Education Trust, National P-3 Center, Wallace Foundation, Council of Chief State School Officers, and others; he is featured on podcasts on several of these organizations’ websites.  Over a 40-year period, he has chaired the doctoral committees of over 100 Ed.D. and Ph.D. students.

Selected Publications

Bryk, A.S., Greenberg, S., Bertani, A., Sebring, P., Tozer, S., & Knowles, T. (2023) How a City Learned to Improve Its Schools. Cambridge: Harvard Education Press.

Darling-Hammond, L., Wechsler, M. E., Levin, S., Leung-Gagné, M., & Tozer, S., Campoli, A. K. (2024) Developing Expert Principals: Professional Learning that Matters Routledge

Gomez, L., Biag, M., Imig, D., Hitz, R., & Tozer, S. (2023) Improving America’s Schools Together: How District-University Partnerships and Continuous Improvement Can Transform Education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Tozer, S., Martinez, P., Barron, C., Cosner, S., Hightower, Z., Jackson, J., Mayrowetz, D., Whalen, S., Zavitkovsky, P. (2023) Preparing principals for urban schools: The challenge of equitable outcomes at scale, in Gomez, L., Biag, M., Imig, D., Hitz, R., & Tozer, S. Improving America’s Schools Together: How District-University Partnerships and Continuous Improvement Can Transform Education. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Tozer, S.E., & G. Senese (2021).  School and Society: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives 8th Edition. New York: McGraw Hill.

Tozer, S.E., B. Gallegos, & A. Henry, eds. (2011) Handbook of Research in the Social Foundations of Education, New York: Routledge/Taylor Francis, Inc.

Tozer, S.E., ed. (1999) Philosophy of Education 1998.  Urbana, IL:  Philosophy of Education Society.

Tozer, S.E., B.A. Armbruster, and T.H. Anderson, eds. (1991).  Foundations of Education in Teacher Education:  A Re-examination. New York: Teachers College Press.  Book publication of special issue of Teachers College Record, 91:3, Sp. 1990.

Tozer, S.E. (1982). The Concept of Authority in Kenneth D. Benne’s Social and Educational Thought. Ph.D. dissertation published in Japanese, Dr. George Kamidera (1998) Himeji University, translator. Tokyo: Japan UNI Agency, Inc.


1982 - PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Philosophy of Education
1978 - MEd, Loyola of Chicago, Elementary/Early Childhood Ed
1972 - BA, Dartmouth College, German

Professional Memberships


Senior Research Fellow, Learning Policy Institute

Advisory Board member, National P-3 Center

Member, American Education Research Association

Member, American Educational Studies Association

Institutional member, University Council for Educational Administration


Past Senior Fellow, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

Past President, American Educational Studies Association

Past President, Council for Social Foundations of Education

Founding Board Member, Illinois Education Research Council

Research Currently in Progress

Tozer is Professor Emeritus in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Throughout his career, his teaching and research have been grounded in an effort to question and disrupt school policies and practices that systematically advantage some population groups and disadvantage others. In journals such as Educational Foundations, Educational Studies, Teachers College Record, Educational Theory, and yearbooks of the National Society for the Study of Education, he has explored the origins of the field of social foundations of education in teacher and administrator development. He has served on the editorial boards of Educational Studies, Educational Foundations, and Teachers College Record.  His co-authored textbook for teachers, School and Society, Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, is now in its 8th edition, continuously in print since 1992.  Since 2002, Tozer’s teaching and research have turned to the preparation of school leaders.  He is now a Senior Research Fellow with the Learning Policy Institute.