Frederick M. Hess
Frederick M. Hess
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Pundicity: Informed Opinion and Review
 

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Of Big 'R' and Little 'r' School Reform

June 22, 2016 at 9:00 am

If you've spent more than five minutes around schooling, you probably have a strong reaction to the term "school reformer." The very phrase tends to spark cheers or catcalls. I'm sure you've seen effusive profiles of wondrous charter school leaders, filled with stirring quotes about saving lives and closing "achievement gaps." And you've probably seen the bitter blogs and vitriolic tweets attacking those same leaders as "deformers" bent on destroying public education.

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http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rick_hess_straight_up/2016/06/school_reform_is_the_new_ed_school.html

June 15, 2016 at 9:00 am

The other week, I noted that "today's 'school reform' community bears an eerie resemblance to the education schools that I fled long ago, including a stifling orthodoxy so ingrained that it's invisible to its adherents." Several friends, readers, and colleagues responded along the lines of, "What are you talking about?" Well, I spent much of the 1990s and early 2000s in and around schools of education as an M.Ed. student, supervisor of student teachers, doctoral student, and professor. Especially back then, ed schools were marked by oppressive consensus on key questions: tests were bad, charter schooling and school vouchers were very bad, Teach For America was terrible, schools were underfunded, market forces had no place in education, and so on.

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Gates' Common-Core Mea Culpa and the School Reform Divide

June 8, 2016 at 9:00 am

Over the past few weeks, the world of "school reform" has been consumed by a heated back-and-forth over whether the left-leaning majority is trying to shove right-leaning types out of the tent. The debate has swirled mostly around questions of race, but those can distract from more fundamental philosophical differences. After all, progressives tend to assume that ambitious programs and policies are the engine of social progress. Conservatives tend to be more concerned about the limits of social engineering, unanticipated consequences, and the unintended damage that well-intended efforts can do. Conservatives believe meaningful social progress tends to be incremental and gradual, the product of local communities, private associations, dynamic markets, and individual initiative. This is why folks on the right get irate when progressives launch a passionate crusade, sow conflict and division, trample on communities, expand bureaucracies, and then, when things don't work out, plead unforeseeable complications.

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Making Sense of the Left-Right School Reform Divide

June 1, 2016 at 10:05 am

Last week, Robert Pondiscio wrote a column on the progressive-conservative divide in school reform that triggered a lot of heated back-and-forth. Regular readers know that I've written about this a lot over the years (particularly in terms of the Obama administration), so I'd kind of assumed that my progressive friends had also been thinking about all this. But they seemed surprised and taken aback by Pondiscio's argument that conservative "school reformers" feel marginalized and under assault from their putative allies. The kerfluffle left me thinking that today's "school reform" community bears an eerie resemblance to the education schools that I fled long ago, including a stifling orthodoxy so ingrained that it's invisible to its adherents. Now, as I've noted before, that orthodoxy is not solely (or even primarily) a left-right phenomenon—but there is a big left-right component.

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John King Is Off to Disappointing Start at Ed. Dept.

April 14, 2016 at 9:00 am

When the Every Student Succeeds Act was enacted last December, many on the right were hugely skeptical. Thoughtful critics like Neal McCluskey and Lindsey Burke at Cato and the Heritage Foundation argued that the law gave self-aggrandizing Department of Ed officials far too much room to run. Some of us who supported the law granted the probity of their concerns, but argued that the legislative language was tight enough to reduce the chance for federal mischief. I, for instance, argued that the law was substantially better than the status quo but that it'd be crucial that the House and Senate keep a careful eye on the executive branch. And the House and Senate education committees have been doing just that.

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Books by Frederick M. Hess

Cover of Cage-Busting Leadership Cover of The Same Thing Over and Over Cover of No Child Left Behind Cover of Tough Love for Schools Cover of Common Sense School Reform Cover of Revolution at the Margins Cover of Bringing the Social Sciences Alive Cover of Spinning Wheels

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