Frederick M. Hess
Frederick M. Hess
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Books by Frederick M. Hess

Cover of Tough Love for Schools

Tough Love for Schools
Essays on Competition, Accountability, and Excellence

by Frederick M. Hess
AEI Press, 2006. 291 pp. $25
January 2006

In the world of K–12 education, it's hard to find anyone who will forthrightly declare that teachers are no more saintly than anyone else, that poor schools should be closed and lousy teachers should be fired, that philanthropy may sometimes do more harm than good, that teaching experience is not essential to being a school principal, that schools should be more efficient and cost-effective, or that profit-driven competition might be good for public education.

These are the kinds of "radical" ideas that Frederick Hess puts forth in this book of essays on school reform. He rejects the notion that loving schools means apologizing for them. Tough love means that we demand more, not less, of the people and the things we cherish. Tough Love for Schools insists that we must ask how schools can do more, rather than how they can get more, and that we be blunt and cleareyed in our assessments of both schooling and proposed reforms.

Hess argues that real school reform requires new policies that enable public and private entrepreneurs to forge new institutions, improve school management, reward excellence, harness advances in technology and knowledge, and devise strategies to draw new talent into the field.

Tough Love for Schools explores the practical and political challenges of accountability, competition, excellence, and the public good. Addressing topics ranging from the federal No Child Left Behind Act to the racial politics of school reform to the relationship of philanthropy and schooling, Hess casts an unsparing eye on schooling and on school officials, would-be reformers, philanthropists, education professors, teacher unions, and public officials.

This collection includes updated and revised versions of influential essays on issues such as who should teach, mayoral control of public schools, the challenge of accountability systems, and what it takes for school choice to create real competition.

In an era when thinkers on the Right and Left agree that the America's future depends heavily on our teachers and schools, Hess offers bracing straight talk on what we must do, assessing the challenges and opportunities that reformers must confront. Disdaining both jargon and sentimentality, Hess has penned a volume for people who are ready to think seriously and talk honestly about the road ahead.

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