We have witnessed decade after decade of hyped reforms found by decorated academics and bombastic advocates. Yet, while we have nearly tripled real per pupil spending since 1970, student achievement has barely budged and a superintendent who nodded off in 1950 would feel almost uncannily at home in most of today’s school districts. What’s the deal?
In The Same Thing Over and Over: How School Reformers Get Stuck in Yesterday’s Ideas, Frederick M. Hess, a resident scholar and the director of education studies at AEI, explains why we need to emancipate ourselves from the institutions and habits of mind that make school reform a pointless, aimless charade. Doing this requires distinguishing the purpose of schooling from its established practice, so as to determine where today’s means do not serve our ends. By asking what we are trying to accomplish, whether today’s schools are equipped for that task, and how we might use twenty- first century tools and talent to do better, school reformers can leave behind anachronistic routines and stale habits of mind that inhibit transformational change.
Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He pens the Education Week blog “Rick Hess Straight Up,” has authored influential books on education including The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform, Revolution at the Margins, and Spinning Wheels, and is co-editor of the new volume Stretching the School Dollar. His work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, The Washington Post, and National Review. He has edited widely-cited volumes on education philanthropy, urban school reform, the impact of education research, education entrepreneurship, and No Child Left Behind. He serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, on the Review Board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education, and on the Boards of Directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers, 4.0 SCHOOLS, and the American Board for the Certification of Teaching Excellence. A former high school social studies teacher, he has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum.