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Rick Hess Straight Up

Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Education Opinion

Introducing Your Guest Stars: Zavadsky, Jackson, & Reckhow

By Rick Hess — September 28, 2012 2 min read
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Hidy folks. So, a few moments ago, I sent off the revised copy-edits for my forthcoming book Cage-Busting Leadership, due out in February from Harvard Ed Press. Between that and prepping my Borscht Belt shtick for the PIE-Net gala last night, I’m in need of a break. Doubly so when I get an email missive from NCEE’s Marc Tucker opining that incentives “don’t work” in education (Newsflash: When veteran teachers use seniority to flock to more affluent, comfortable schools--that’s an incentive at work right there. When you pay teachers for credentials, and throngs get mediocre training to obtain credentials they won’t use and that doesn’t improve their teaching--that’s an incentive at work. Incentives are omnipresent; the only question is what kinds of behavior one is incenting. But I’m too tired to really get into this.) Bottom line: it seemed like a propitious time to turn the blog over for a few weeks. Happily, I think we’ve put together a stellar, really intriguing line-up.

First up, next week, we’ll hear from Heather Zavadsky, an education consultant who was formerly the director of research at the Texas High School Project. Harvard Education Press recently published Heather’s second book on district reform, School Turnarounds: The Essential Role of Districts. This follows her 2009 Bringing School Reform to Scale: Five Award-Winning Urban Districts, which profiled five school districts that have claimed the Broad Prize for Urban Education. Heather is an expert in urban education, district reform, and blending research and practice, and I think she’ll have some sharp thoughts to offer on turnarounds and district reform.

Next, the week of October 8, we’ll have Bill Jackson. Even if you don’t know Bill himself, I’m pretty sure readers will be familiar with his handiwork. Bill is the founder and CEO of GreatSchools, which aims to inform parents about their schooling options via their greatschools.org online portal. Tens of millions of households have used GreatSchools to help inform their decisions about schools and home purchases, and Bill’s a leader in figuring out how we empower parents to make good educational choices. I’m looking forward to Bill’s thinking on how to educate and mobilize parents.

Finally, the week of October 15, Sarah Reckhow takes over. Sarah is an assistant professor in the department of political science at Michigan State University and author of the forthcoming Oxford University Press book Follow the Money: How Foundation Dollars Change Public School Politics. The book analyzes where and how foundations invest in education reform, with particular emphasis on New York City and Los Angeles, and offers a gimlet-eyed take at education philanthropy. In an area that has long cried out for more careful thinking and research (as opposed to cheerleading or vilification), I think you’ll find Sarah’s work a notable contribution.

Enjoy, and I’ll see you back at the end of the month.

The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.