Yesterday, at the Fordham Institute's big conference on "Rethinking Education Governance in the 21st Century," I had the chance to chat about a new paper "More than the Mantra of 'Mayoral Control'" that I penned with Olivia Meeks. When it comes to district governance, Olivia and I argue that the back-and-forth about mayoral control has too often distracted us from the need to tackle entrenched routines. We walk through the case for mayoral control (which I find fairly convincing when it comes to large urban districts) and the reasons for caution, then point out that the relative merits of elected ...


As a nation, we've been living beyond our means for decades. Retirees have happily pocketed Medicare and Social Security benefits that far exceeded their contributions, millions of families bought houses they couldn't afford, families lowered their savings rate to zero while piling on the credit card debt, investors "flipped" homes and bought equities with borrowed dollars, and the federal government (under Bush and Obama) cheerfully spent trillions more than it collected in revenues. We need only look across the Atlantic to see what reckoning for all this eventually looks like. My naïve hope was that the Occupy "movement" might ...


A recent series in The Atlantic has explored the "secrets of innovation" and asked which nations the U.S. ought to emulate in seeking to regain our competitive edge. As part of it, I was asked to offer my take on the K-12 question. Despite all the preaching by the high priests of international mimicry (see Marc Tucker's new book Surpassing Shanghai or, well, anything by McKinsey & Co.), I counseled that the U.S. would do well to chart our own course. (An earlier version of this piece appeared in The Atlantic, but I thought I'd share a tweaked version ...


Note: This week, I'm giving RHSU readers a look at my essay in Richard Elmore's recent Harvard Education Press volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. If you find this stuff at all interesting, I'd definitely encourage you to check the book out. 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 perks. Consultants who own an idea become must-haves for ...


Note: This week, I'm giving RHSU readers a look at my essay in Richard Elmore's recent Harvard Education Press volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. If you find this stuff at all interesting, I'd definitely encourage you to check the book out. 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 convince anyone to hire me to do anything?" Little ...


This summer, Harvard Education Press published Richard Elmore's intriguing volume I Used to Think...And Now I Think. The volume's title and theme draw from a professional development exercise in which participants reflect on how the experience has altered their thinking. The book includes essays from a variety of K-12 thinkers--including Howard Gardner, Sonia Nieto, Larry Cuban, Jeff Henig, Deb Meier, and Mike Smith--discussing how their thinking has changed during their time in education. I had the privilege of contributing to the volume, and the piece captured much of my own underlying biases with regards to the issues that I ...


A couple weeks ago, Andrew Biggs, an AEI colleague, and Jason Richwine of the Heritage Foundation, authored a controversial study on teacher pay. They used federal wage, benefit, and job-security data, along with measures of cognitive ability, to argue that teachers are overpaid compared to what they'd earn in the private sector. The analysis generated heated reaction, including an unusual, personal attack by Secretary of Education Duncan. In the aftermath, given that I'm director of ed policy studies at AEI, there were a number of inquiries regarding my thoughts on this provocative analysis. My take is threefold. (An earlier version ...


While I was gone, there were any number of classic examples of well-intentioned folks promoting bad ideas under the guise of "reform." In Tennessee, it turns out that the teacher evaluation system promised in the state's Race to the Top proposal isn't ready for prime time. Fifty percent of teacher evaluations are supposed to be based on evidence of student outcomes, but such measures are in short supply. No matter, the plan is just to plug in for teachers the growth scores for their school. Because the cutting-edge way to gauge a first-grade teacher's performance is apparently by measuring his ...


Hidy, all. I'm back. Thanks to Melissa, Sheara, Celine, and Roxanna for three weeks of stellar guest turns. While I was out, in last week's Republican debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry promised (in the course of a major gaffe) that the Department of Education would be "gone" if he's elected President. Rep. Michele Bachmann and others have made similar pledges. While I've some sympathy for the premise, I'm not sure what it actually means to "turn out the lights" at ED. Here are six questions I hope an enterprising reporter asks Perry, Bachmann, et al. on this score: It isn't ...


Note: Roxanna Elden is the author of See Me After Class: Advice for Teachers by Teachers. She is a National Board Certified high school teacher currently teaching in Miami. There is a growing assumption that education reformers are anti-teacher and teachers are anti-reform. Disagreements between these groups have become so heated and so public recently that this seems like a reasonable conclusion. The real story is more complicated. Over the past year, I've had the chance to speak with many people in the education reform world. I have come to believe that most reformers became reformers for the same reasons ...


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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