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 ...


On Tuesday, the undercard featured a slew of intriguing ballot initiatives. The popular press has focused on measures that legalized pot, gay marriage, and in-state versions of the DREAM Act in various places. Meanwhile, several important education measures have received less attention. On the whole, the education initiatives yielded a split decision. For smart commentary on how to interpret the results, check out Andy Rotherham here, Mike Petrilli here, or my colleague K.C. Deane here. Teachers unions won telling victories on two major referenda in California and won big on three more in deep red Idaho. In California, by ...


In Indiana, all-world superintendent Tony Bennett lost last night--53 to 47. I'd like to find an eloquent way to say it, but I'm a simple guy: Bennett is a stud. He's also a good friend, and I'm not even going to try to pretend to be objective or dispassionate here. He's smart, passionate, and relentless. And, given that folks are likely to be clamoring for his services (including the state of Florida, which is desperately seeking a new chief), it's safe to say Bennett will be just fine. Okay. Now, let's talk about why a rock-ribbed Republican state chief lost ...


President Obama won reelection last night, after a campaign that featured a lot of talk of "Romnesia" and much less discussion of what he'd do in a second term. It gave me a strong sense of deja vu: not for 2008, but for 2004, when President Bush slogged to a similarly narrow, ugly victory by dousing Senator John Kerry in buckets of mud. As the Washington Post's Charles Lane mentioned yesterday, President Obama is "the second president in a row to win election as a uniter- and then campaign for reelection by trashing his opponent." That parallel may say a ...


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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