Opinion Blog


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

RHSU: Greatest Hits of 2012

By Rick Hess — December 28, 2012 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

It’s the time of year when we look back at the year gone by, recall the occasional success, try to learn from our missteps, yada yada. Anyway, in that spirit, the uber-talented Allie Kimmel and I went back to the RHSU archives. With an eye towards reader traffic, Twitter interest, and our own judgment, we’ve tagged ten of RHSU’s highlights from 2012. Curious to hear your takes on these and which ones we might’ve missed.

10. A Recipe for Mediocrity: Tell Every School to Meet Every Need for Every Kid, February 23, 2012: Inside Schools just published a long story documenting the frustration of some parents that every NYC school isn’t prepared to accommodate children with every conceivable special need. I find it unfathomable that anyone thinks every school should or will be able to competently cater to every sort of student need and interest. The question isn’t whether we should serve all kids; it’s whether we think every school, or every classroom, ought to be expected to meet every need of every student.

9. A Shameless Display on Waivers, February 10, 2012: The Obama administration made its big NCLB “waiver” announcement yesterday. Now, let’s just stipulate that President Obama and the folks at the Department of Education are good people who want to help kids. But that doesn’t excuse an exercise that struck me as hypocritical, graceless, and troubling. Here are six things about this latest spin of the waiver saga that seemed particularly disconcerting.

8. The Problem with One-Size-Fits-All Approaches to Teacher Quality, March 9, 2012: On one side of today’s teacher quality debates, we’ve got “reformers” who’ve accurately identified real problems, suggested sensible principles, and then rushed to champion crude, inflexible policies that turn good ideas into caricatures. On the other side, we’ve got teachers and “public school defenders” who aren’t content to challenge simple-minded solutions, but who argue that we can’t really distinguish good educators from bad ones. I think that both camps just get it flat wrong.

7. John Henry Is Not a Role Model, 4 Tips for Edu-Leaders, June 15, 2012: Leaders need to look at John Henry as a cautionary tale--not a role model. Leaders should indeed work hard and lead by example. But way too many K-12 leaders work ridiculous hours, slogging through breaks and weekends. That’s self-defeating. Transformative leadership entails setting a vision, managing relationships, clearing obstacles, ensuring accountability, and creating a culture.

6. Rahm Gets Rolled: Chicago’s Winners & Losers, September 19, 2012: The Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reached a tentative agreement yesterday, and it wasn’t a good day for Rahmbo or for would-be reformers. Today Democratic ed reformers will be cranking up their spin machines to explain why Rahm didn’t really get rolled by the CTU. (And, let’s be honest, Democrats account for about 90+ percent of both the education blob and the education reform community.) But, while they get to work spinning this thing, let’s take a look at who came out where.

5. What Would a President Romney Do on K-12?, October 24, 2012: The safe bet is that a President Romney would keep much of the same substantive agenda as Obama, but would do so with a lighter touch, less spending, and more emphasis on choice. In particular, a Romney administration is more likely to differ on the appropriate federal role in pushing those policies.

4. The Culture of Can’t in America’s Schools, May 11, 2012: When it comes to reforming our nation’s public schools, we hear a lot about what educational leaders can’t do. Contracts, laws, and regulations assuredly handcuff school and system leaders. But the ardent drumbeat for “reform” has obscured the fact that school and system leaders can actually do much that they often complain they can’t, if they have the persistence, knowledge, ingenuity, and motivation.

3. Finland’s Secret Edu-Sauce: Pricey Booze, Plenty of Saunas, and the Dearth of Pantsless Ducks?, September 6, 2012: I came away from my trip to Finland less convinced than ever that Finnish test scores are inarguably a product of educational brilliance. There are a whole bunch of cultural distinctions that might lead to big differences in youth behavior and test score outcomes--even before we get to talking about schools.

2. Technology as “Hamburger Helper”, November 28, 2012: Technology has long been offered as the miraculous balm that will transform and improve teaching and learning. It’s more useful to think of technology not as a solution but as “Hamburger Helper.” Hamburger Helper isn’t an alternative to ground beef; it’s something that you stir into the pan so that the beef goes further. The key is to regard technology as the means to the end you’d like to achieve, rather than an end in itself.

1. The Fate of the Common Core: The View from 2022, March 26, 2012: Funny story. A few weeks back, I was out in DC with some friends after one of my AEI working groups, and stumbled upon a DeLorean. Long story short: they built a time machine and I hopped forward a decade to 2022. I found that despite its initial success, only eleven states use a Common Core assessment, less than a third of the states are judged to have made any effort to adhere to the Core, and the phrase “Common Core” remains polarizing and generally unpopular with Republicans, parents, and teachers. So what went wrong?

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.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP
Education Massachusetts National Guard to Help With Busing Students to School
250 guard personnel will be available to serve as drivers of school transport vans, as districts nationwide struggle to hire enough drivers.
1 min read
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass. Mass. Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021, activated the state's National Guard to help with busing students to school as districts across the country struggle to hire enough drivers.
Massachusetts National Guard soldiers help with logistics in this Friday, April 17, 2020 file photo, at a food distribution site outside City Hall, in Chelsea, Mass.
Michael Dwyer/AP
Education FDA: ‘Very, Very Hopeful’ COVID Shots Will Be Ready for Younger Kids This Year
Dr. Peter Marks said he is hopeful that COVID-19 vaccinations for 5- to 11-year-olds will be underway by year’s end. Maybe sooner.
4 min read
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021. On Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, Marks urged parents to be patient, saying the agency will rapidly evaluate vaccines for 5- to 11-year-olds as soon as it gets the needed data.
Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research in the Food and Drug Administration, testifies during a Senate health, education, labor, and pensions hearing to examine an update from federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19 on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 11, 2021.
Jim Lo Scalzo/AP