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

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.

My Final Word on “Edujobs”: Harmful, Not Just Wasteful

I want to be crystal clear. I think that Edujobs was not just wasteful but was positively harmful. And, yes, I think this even though ED promised to streamline its normal processes so that states will "receive funding as quickly as possible" and whipped up some calculations touting the number of jobs it's claiming to save in each state.

Two Camps on Ed Tech

I was struck recently by the degree to which we're having two distinct, contrary conversations about technology and schooling. The romanticist camp traces its roots to Rousseau's Emile and its radical "progressive" vision of the unchained learner. The productivity camp has more faith in pedestrian notions of essential knowledge and the teacher's central role.

School Boards as a Symptom, Not the Cause

I'm very sympathetic to the argument that mayoral control, done smart, can be a useful step in turning around troubled school systems. But I've been concerned about the tendency to romanticize its promise and to overlook its potential problems.

Sunday NYT Celebrates a -ubious New Policy

In its inimitable style, the New York Times yesterday featured a page one ed story celebrating an aimless new district policy and the superintendent responsible.

Value-Added: The Devil’s in the Details

In response to the mail I've received since Monday's column critiquing Aaron Pallas's attack on the DCPS teacher firings, I think it's useful for me to weigh in on the live-wire question of value-added systems.

Professor Pallas’s Inept, Irresponsible Attack on DCPS

Last week, Aaron Pallas savaged the DC Public Schools IMPACT teacher evaluation system in the Washington Post's "The Answer Sheet" blog, attacking the teacher evaluation system as "idiotic" and based on "preposterous" assumptions. There are three egregious problems with Pallas's critique.

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