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

Strip Miners in Our Schools

In a new forum in Education Next, Education Trust honcho Kati Haycock and Stanford economist Rick Hanushek address the issue of whether and how to more "equitably" distribute teachers. With characteristic passion, Haycock calls for efforts to focus on attracting good teachers to high-poverty, low-performing schools. I strongly support what Haycock has to say in the exchange, but I worry about the possibility that some of her allies may take her suggestions too far.

Racing to the Jargon: Finalist’s Edition

Whereas greenfield-style measures tend to be cut-and-dry--states either did or did not enact certain legislation--the prescriptive bulk of RTT is about promising to do things. Since this kind of compliance is about plans and intentions rather than actions, it's harder to demonstrate. The usual result: proving commitment by piling up consultant-provided buzzwords and jargon. And the RTT apps are no exception.

A Pernicious Parlor Game

So, the announcement of the round one Race to the Top finalists is upon us. In the run-up, a pernicious parlor game in edu-policy circles has been “name the RTT finalists.” Thankfully, it’s about to come to a close. Unfortunately, it’ll be followed by “name the RTT winners.”

Go New York

Secretary Duncan has repeatedly told us to watch what he does, not what he says. So, I'm watching, but so far I'm not impressed.

That Darn Constitution

If Congress reauthorizes No Child Left Behind this year and does so "consistent with the President's plan," the Obama administration announced this week that it is going to make an extra $1 billion available for edu-spending. The problem with this clever carrot? If you'll recall your high school civics, it's the legislative branch that writes the federal budget.

It Depends on What the Meaning of “Transparency” Is

Yesterday, on his Eduwonk blog, Andy Rotherham weighed in on the brewing controversy over the Race to the Top review process. Rotherham suggests that Duncan try a variation of the “it depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” defense, explaining, "'Transparent' is not synonymous with contemporaneous. In other words, a process can be transparent while it is going on or it can be transparent after the fact." It'll be amusing to see whether Duncan tries that defense; somehow, I don't think it'll play that well.

Shhhhh…Duncan’s Secret Edu-Judges

Late last week, Education Week’s Michele McNeil reported that the Obama administration has secretly selected the reviewers for state grant applications to its $4.35 billion Race to the Top (RTT) fund, but has no intention of publicly revealing who these 60 judges are. Whether the department delivered 60 “disinterested superstars,” as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan promised last September, is unclear.

The WSJ Steps Up on Race to the Top: Scrutinizing the “Selectivity” Standard

For awhile now, there has been some cause for concern that the famously tough-minded Wall Street Journal editorial page seemed to be drinking the Kool-Aid when it came to the much-discussed Race to the Top (RTT) grant program. So, it gives much satisfaction to note that this week’s WSJ featured perhaps the savviest editorial yet penned by any major newspaper on RTT.

The Accidental Principal

What doesn't get taught at ed schools?

Few States Set World-Class Standards

In fact, most render the notion of proficiency meaningless

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