Member Since 2009


Frederick Hess, AEI's director of education policy studies, is an educator, political scientist, author, and popular speaker and commentator. He has authored such influential books as Spinning Wheels, Revolution at the Margins, and Common Sense School Reform. A former public high school social studies teacher, he has also taught education and policy at universities including Georgetown, Harvard, Rice, the University of Virginia, and the University of Pennsylvania. He is executive editor of Education Next, a faculty associate with Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance, and serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and on the review board for the Broad Prize in Urban Education. At AEI, Mr. Hess addresses a range of K-12 and higher education issues.

Published Articles & Media

Pyrrhic Victories?

The following essay is part of a forum, written in honor of Education Next’s...

RHSU Faux News: Fake Twitter Debate on Teacher Residency Programs

Last week, Mike Petrilli posted an amusing Twitter debate between him and Diane Ravitch. I quite liked it. But, since I don't Tweet, I couldn't go there. And I doubt I'd have the patience anyway. Happily, I realized I could pen a fake Twitter debate--which seems an easy alternative.

High Schools, Civics, and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do

Remarkably little has been written about the state of citizenship education in our schools. Pollsters/analysts Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett have delivered an invaluable service in their new study "High Schools, Civics, and Citizenship: What Social Studies Teachers Think and Do."

The “Buy-In” Tar Pit

The problem is we've a sector full of educational experts who claim to love kids, are sure that everyone wants to do the right thing, and can't imagine that buy-in and consensus won't yield solutions. Unfortunately, the kumbaya approach only works in schools or systems that are already doing fairly well--and where, therefore, change won't involve too much disruption or produce too many losers. When it comes to troubled systems, even a thousand meetings, get-to-know-me sessions, and stakeholder buy-in roundtables won't suffice.

Stretching the School Dollar

I know, I know. I'm always kvetching that schools need to do more with less. When folks press me for specific details or suggestions, they want something more than broad discussions of staffing levels or analogies from other sectors. They want concrete ideas. Stretching the School Dollar represents the best efforts of coeditor Eric Osberg and myself to craft a book packed with practical ideas for cutting school spending, in both the short- and long-term.

The HFT Is All About Professional Growth… Not

I'm always surprised at how often teacher unions claiming to be agents of professionalism reflexively slash at measures that are part and parcel of most professions. Even so, it's not every day that you see a union savaging an effort to promote professional growth as an anti-teacher conspiracy.

Even Its Fans Are Having Second Thoughts About Race to the Top

Last Tuesday, Secretary Duncan announced round-two winners in the Race to the Top program. By Tuesday night, there was outrage that admired reform states had lost while won. By Thursday, there was grumbling that some judges had savaged Colorado for failing to attach a copy of Senate Bill 10-191. By Friday, the big story was not the contest but New Jersey Governor Christie’s decision to fire his commissioner of education. It all brings to mind something I noted last winter: that RTT was a good idea that could all-too-easily go south.

Why I’m Feeling Sorry for Sec. Duncan

Faced with bizarre round two RTT results that identified New York as the second-most accomplished reform state and Hawaii as the third--and that found Louisiana and Colorado out of the money altogether--Duncan had two bad choices. He could either take the scores at face value or he could override them and deal with an ensuing firestorm. This is what we call a lose-lose proposition.

The Nation’s Best (and Worst) Cities for School Reform

The answer: New Orleans, Washington, D.C., New York City, Denver, and Jacksonville. The question: Which cities are in the mix when it comes to being the "Silicon Valley" of K-12 schooling? Or, more simply: If you're a problem-solver with some successes under your belt, where will you be most welcome?

LAT on Teacher Value-Added: A Disheartening Replay

On Sunday, the L.A. Times ran its controversial analysis of teacher value-added scores in L.A. Unified School District. Given my taste for mean-spirited measures, and the impressive journalistic moxie it showed, I really wanted to endorse the LAT's effort. But I can't. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm all for using student achievement to evaluate and reward teachers and for using transparency to recognize excellence and shame mediocrity. But I have three serious problems with what the LAT did.

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