Superintendents for large, urban school districts are a hot commodity, moving often and commanding big bucks. This is a topic I've thought about a bunch over the years--hell, it was a question at the heart of my doctoral dissertation and first book, Spinning Wheels. Anyway, Dallas is currently going through a search, and the Dallas Morning News asked if I'd pen a piece offering a few thoughts. It occurred to me that most of the points apply equally well elsewhere. With that in mind, here's a slightly trimmed version of what I had to say (a full version of the ...


Higher education is paying far too little attention to the needs of adult, nontraditional students. While the quintessential college student leaves home at eighteen to go live on a college campus for four years, that familiar archetype is now the exception. There are 17.6 million undergraduates enrolled in American higher education today. The National Center for Education Statistics reports that just 15 percent of them attend four-year colleges and live on campus. Forty-three percent of them attend two-year institutions. Thirty-seven percent of undergraduates are enrolled part-time and 32 percent work full-time. Of those students enrolled in four-year institutions, just ...


A few weeks back, I penned a post about the lack of response we'd received regarding our in-the-works Education Next forum on the Common Core math standards. I heard from a number of individuals who offered to defend the standards. One was Hung-Hsi Wu, professor emeritus in mathematics from UC-Berkeley, who has just penned the cover story on this topic for AFT's magazine American Educator. Dr. Wu, who started teaching at Berkeley in 1973, has been actively involved in math education for the past two decades, helping write California's 1999 Mathematics Framework and California's Standards Tests. He was also a ...


Press interest has been picking up the last couple weeks when it comes to the GOP contenders and education. Here are seven keys to keep in mind when making sense of what the Republican field is (and isn't) saying on that score. First, most of those opining on the edu-thinking of the GOP candidates are committed Democrats (if only because the edu-universe is disproportionately Democratic), so the frequently snide tone of the commentary ought to be interpreted accordingly. This isn't to deny the smarts or insight of media go-to's like Jack Jennings or Charlie Barone. But keep in mind that ...


All right, enough of this already. This is the last day on "Our Achievement Gap Mania" (at least for now); I promise. But some folks have wondered how I can be goofy enough to argue that such a popular rhetorical strategy is bad for sustaining reform. My default answer is to encourage folks to read the whole piece. But since many of you are busy, let's highlight a few key points here. The champions of the gap-closing gospel tend to regard themselves as tactical geniuses, and to think of the achievement gap mantra as a brilliant political strategy. The irony ...


Last week's National Affairs essay "Our Achievement Gap Mania" has raised a little ire. One thing that might be useful is to situate the debate a bit, both in terms of how we got here and why I have the temerity to suggest that the moral philosophy behind gap-closing is less compelling than proponents seem to imagine. In the 1960s, in the famed Coleman Report, sociologist James Coleman examined the first large-scale collection of data on school characteristics and student achievement to conclude that schooling had little effect on students' life outcomes and that parents' involvement in their children's lives ...


Am out in Seattle, where I had the honor last night of emceeing the first inaugural Eddies! Awards for the Policy Innovators in Education Network. It was a terrific time with a bunch of smart and inspiring people. With social media playing an increasingly noteworthy role in the school reform effort, I thought I'd share one of the invaluable contributions from my emceeing gig--my list of the top ten school reform tweets of 2011. 10: @Brilldude- Unions bad. Reformers good. I heart Jon Schnur. Buy my book. 9: @DFERboss- Unions bad. LIFO bad. But not as bad as GOP governors. ...


Last week, RiShawn Biddle penned an energetic critique of "Our Achievement Gap Mania" for his e-newsletter Dropout Nation. The impassioned attack echoed some of the more visceral reactions that the article has generated. I'm a fan of robust debate, but I do want to make sure that critics understand what I'm arguing and why I'm arguing it. In that light, it seemed useful to elaborate on three particular counts. First, Biddle claims that I argue in National Affairs that "the achievement gap is a matter not worthy of addressing." That's simply false. Any reader of the piece knows I never ...


As I noted yesterday, my National Affairs essay "Our Achievement Gap Mania" has stirred some conversation. Let's take a moment to address those who've asked, "Rick, why are you trying to stir up trouble? There are no losers here!" Proponents of the gap-closing gospel cheerfully assure us that everybody wins. Education Trust vice president Amy Wilkins has rejected as a "false choice" the notion "that we have to make a choice as a country between equity and excellence. Our policies need to marry both." That's a swell aspiration. Unfortunately, I think the evidence suggests that focusing our attention and finite ...


Yesterday, the quarterly journal National Affairs published my essay "Our Achievement Gap Mania." As I'd suspected it might, the piece seems to have angered a number of educators and reformers who I like and respect. So, I thought I'd try over the next couple days to explain what the fuss is about and why I felt compelled to challenge a well-intentioned, deeply ingrained consensus. A decade ago, the No Child Left Behind Act ushered in an era of federal educational accountability marked by relentless focus on closing race- and income-based "achievement gaps" in test scores and graduation rates. The language ...


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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