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July 28, 2014

Why Do "Anti-Corporatists" Defend Factory-Style School Leadership?

I've spent a bunch of time over the last month or two talking about "cage-busting" in a bunch of districts, state gatherings, and university programs. One of the interesting reactions has come from "anti-reformers" who dismiss any call for leaders to think this way as a "corporatist" attack on public education. This comes up now and again when I'm talking to school and system leaders, who nod along with the main points but sometimes wonder whether empowering school or system leaders reflects an attempt to import a "business" mindset into education. A little historical context can help.

July 17, 2014

Caged Leadership Fuels Policy Overreach

Many of the school and system leaders I teach are frustrated by policy and sense that they're hemmed in by bureaucracy, regulation, and politicians. I find myself trying to explain the insight that motivated Cage-Busting Leadership: caged leadership frustrates policy makers and advocates, leading them to propose new rules and policies as they scramble to force leaders to, well, lead. In this way, caged leadership creates a perverse cycle of growing frustration.

October 04, 2013

5 Ideas to Start Tackling the Missing Half of School Reform

Real change requires much more attention to the second half of the improvement agenda: cultivating and supporting teachers, principals, district leaders, and state officials willing and able to rethink old norms.

October 02, 2013

Cages of Our Own Design

Many of the problems reformers are trying to solve are the result less of statutory constraints than of confusion, apathy, ignorance, or excessive caution.

September 30, 2013

Changing Policies Is Only a First Step in Changing Schools

The right response to missteps and disappointments is certainly not to abandon common sense measures. Instead, it is (as I point out in last week's National Affairs essay "The Missing Half of School Reform" to properly appreciate a lesson that the great political scientist James Q. Wilson taught long ago: Formal policy is often no match for the countervailing pressures of localized incentives, institutional cultures, situational imperatives, and internalized obstacles.

September 27, 2013

When School Reform Falls Flat

On Wednesday, I discussed the thesis of my new National Affairs article "The Missing Half of School Reform." One of the inevitable, appropriate questions people respond with is for examples of where "reform" efforts have come up short. Today, let's touch on two examples.

September 25, 2013

The Missing Half of School Reform

On Monday, National Affairs published my new article, "The Missing Half of School Reform." In it, I argue that the contemporary school reform movement risks being undone by a failure to cultivate, encourage, and support the leaders, lawyers, state and district officials, and educators charged with turning reform from theory to practice.

September 18, 2013

Douglas County: The Most Interesting School District in America?

For a decade or more, school reform has been an urban tale of superintendents seeking to "turn around" schools in poverty-stricken communities, where vast numbers of children read below grade level and drop out before graduation. Douglas County, one of the nation's most affluent communities and a Republican bastion, provides a stark counterpoint to the familiar narrative.

February 14, 2013

'More PD' : The Easy (But Ineffectual) Answer

It's not either-or: you're not a "cage-buster" or a believer in PD. Rather, PD can be an exercise with very little reward until you're using it as a problem-solving tool.

February 13, 2013

Cage-Busting Leadership & the Halfway School Reform Agenda

I've little to say on the President's SOTU last night, or on Sen. Rubio's response.more interesting to me is that yesterday was the official launch date for my new book, Cage-Busting Leadership.

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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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