Well, 2017 is about to go in the books, and that’s okay by me. It’s been a bizarre, overheated year, and I’m more than ready to give 2018 a shot. Before we do, though, it’s worth taking one last look at the year just past—at the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2017. In that spirit, my uber-RAs Amy Cummings and Grant Addison and I sat down to comb the 2017 RHSU archives and flag this year’s top ten columns. We took into account web hits, reader reaction, our personal preferences, and the secret algorithm cooked up at our bunker in Burbank, to come up with the “best” of RHSU, circa 2017.
So, without further ado, here’s our take on the top 10 RHSU columns of 2017:
10. 5 School-Improvement Tips for Civic and Community Leaders, October 17, 2017: In many places, perhaps the most important mission for civic leaders is to provide the persistence, patience, and maturity that can help turn a vicious cycle into a virtuous one.
9. Letters to a Young Education Reformer, April 25, 2017: In Letters to a Young Education Reformer, I offer some hard-learned advice on the lessons I’ve learned after a quarter century in and around schools and reform.
8. Teachers Unions Blow an Easy Chance to Walk the Walk, September 26, 2017: More than a quarter of teachers miss more than two weeks each year, above and beyond scheduled breaks and holidays. That’s a problem. And the fact that union leaders can’t say so is perhaps a bigger one.
7. Of ESSA Plans and TPS Reports, May 31, 2017: All the recent fascination with states’ ESSA plans brings to mind the infamous TPS reports from the movie Office Space.
6. What We’ve Forgotten About School Reform: Courtesy of Messrs. Tyack, Cuban, and Payne, September 21, 2017: If we’re going to refashion a 19th-century model of schooling for the 21st century (and I think we need to), how we go about it will be at least as important as what we try to do.
5. About That ‘White Supremacist’ Bedsheet Which Greeted Betsy DeVos’ Speech at Harvard, October 12, 2017: Let’s set aside the Beltway stuff to talk a bit about that sign and what lately strikes me as the remarkably promiscuous use of that term—white supremacist—in education circles.
4. How Not to Argue for School Choice, April 7, 2017: Here are three pro-choice lines of argument I’ve heard a lot in 2017 and a couple of thoughts as to why passionate advocates might want to lean on some different talking points.
3. The Patriots and the ‘Unpopular Stuff’ of Excellence, February 2, 2017: As the Patriots prepare to play for the Super Bowl on Sunday, it seems especially timely to reflect again on some critical insights education reformers can gather from professional football.
2. Reading and Math Scores: ‘Handle With Care’, June 15, 2017: Test score gains tell us something useful. But, until we get more insight into what’s causing them, they should be stamped “Handle with care.”
1. Picturing Trump as the School Choice Guy, June 8, 2017: The White House is apparently poised to launch a big school choice push, and I can just imagine what President Trump’s nationally televised Oval Office address might sound like.
Would welcome your thoughts and comments. Meanwhile, 2018, here we come.
— Frederick Hess
Frederick Hess is director of education policy studies at AEI and an executive editor at Education Next.
Last updated December 27, 2017