Many people say nice things about our earnest Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. It's easy to see why, even if one thinks the Obama administration has made its share of mistakes on education. He's a pleasant, even-tempered guy; has comported himself in Chicago and D.C. with class; and has gotten some significant stuff right, like giving his terrific "New Normal" speech and broadening out the reform agenda in helpful ways. But none of that explains the bizarre, mouth-breathing man-crush that New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has on him. In a NYT column last week that I found fairly ...


In a number of conversations this week over at Jeb Bush's annual edu-fest, at AEI, and around DC, I was struck by the degree to which the Common Core seems to have become Dr. Pendergast's miracle cure for everything that ails you (seemingly including heat blisters). The exchanges were eerily reminiscent of the run-up to Waiting for Superman, when smart, enthusiastic people kept telling me how everything was about to change--how suburban voters would wake up and leap on the reform bandwagon. And it reminds me more than a little of conversations I've had earlier this decade or back in ...


Just recently, Forbes magazine engaged in another bit of embarrassing hyperbole, titling a cover story on the Khan Academy, "One Man, One Computer, 10 Million Students: How Khan Academy Is Reinventing Education." Sigh... It reminded me of so much overzealous commentary on ed tech. Technology has long been offered as the miraculous balm that will transform and improve teaching and learning. Enthusiasts have said this about iPads, laptops, the Internet, desktop computers, televisions, videotapes, well . . . you get the idea. And, in most sectors, technology has indeed yielded huge savings and delivered massive increases in productivity. In education, though, it's been ...


Constructive public debate clarifies, illuminates, and, with any luck, educates. Such debate requires disputants to eschew easy banalities like "education is the new civil right" or ad hominem charges that those they disagree with want to "destroy public education." And it becomes damn near impossible when folks throw around phrases like "child-hating fascist" or accuse each other of nefarious schemes. Yet, it sometimes seems that sophomoric invective has become the norm in the education debates. That's why I was cheered recently by Parent Revolution's impassioned but thoughtful and courteous response to my critique, in which I'd slammed their desire to ...


Note: This Thanksgiving week, I'm giving RHSU readers a look at my essay in Richard Elmore's Harvard Education Press volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. Elmore's book features a variety of K-12 thinkers--including Howard Gardner, Larry Cuban, Deb Meier, and Mike Smith--discussing how their thinking on schooling has changed over time. For days one and two, see here and here. Say something smart once and there are huge rewards for spending a career saying it, in increasingly elaborate forms. Academics who own an idea get hired by prestigious universities, deliver keynotes, and get all kinds of attendant ...


Note: This Thanksgiving week, I'm giving RHSU readers a look at my essay in Richard Elmore's Harvard Education Press volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. Elmore's book features a variety of K-12 thinkers--including Howard Gardner, Larry Cuban, Deb Meier, and Mike Smith--discussing how their thinking on schooling has changed over time. For day one, see here. Along my path through academia, I started to doubt whether I'd ever even be able to find a job. I'd ask myself, "Wow, I know so little and all these successful people know so much; how am I ever going to ...


About this time last year, I shared a short chapter I'd penned for Richard Elmore's intriguing volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. In the piece, I explained why I've grown so skeptical of many kinds of "experts" over time. Since we've added a bunch of readers since I last ran the chapter in RHSU, and given that it's highly relevant to how I approach a host of questions--from teacher evaluation policy to professional learning communities--I thought it worth revisiting this week. It offers a nice change of pace from the hurly-burly of the election run-up and aftermath. ...


With the election still fresh in everyone's mind, seemed like a good time to flag an especially relevant new book: Making Civics Count. Just out from Harvard Education Press, the volume is edited by David Campbell, political scientist at Notre Dame and leading authority on civic engagement, Meira Levinson, education philosopher at Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of No Citizen Left Behind, along with yours truly. The book features an all-star lineup of experts shining a spotlight on civic education to help policymakers, educators, parents, and voters better understand the state of civic ed and what American kids ...


Well, the election is finally over. President Obama and House Speaker Boehner are hard at work whispering sweet nothings and figuring out how to do token tax increases and spending cuts that'll avoid the pain of sequestration or ending the Bush tax cuts. Of course, in combination, those two developments would inflict substantial short-term pain, while also dramatically brightening our fiscal picture. Instead, their deal will let us continue borrowing about a trillion dollars a year to pay for entitlements, military spending, and programs we want but don't want to pay for--and to keep passing the bills on to our ...


We hosted an intriguing conversation at AEI yesterday on the aftermath of the 2012 elections and what they meant for education. (You can catch it here in the C-SPAN archive if you missed it.) The panel featured Andy "Eduwonk" Rotherham, Alyson "Politics K-12" Klein, House Speaker John Boehner's edu-ace Katherine Haley, pollster Kristen Soltis from the Winston Group, and yours truly. Guided by top-notch moderating from my colleague Andrew Kelly, we touched on any number of things. Here are my four takeaways: 1. The split on the Republican side. For a number of years, there's been an assumption that Democrats ...


The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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