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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

The Top 10 RHSU Columns of 2019

By Rick Hess — December 19, 2019 1 min read
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Well, 2019 is about to go in the books. I thought 2018 was a strange year, for America and for education alike. Well, as the man said, “You ain’t seen nothing yet.” Part of me figures that this means we’re due for something different in 2020—but another part is muttering, “Yeah, that’s what you thought last year.” In any event, before we turn the page, let’s take a quick spin through the good, the bad, and the ugly of 2019. In that spirit, my remarkably talented RAs Hannah Warren and RJ Martin sat down with me to sift through the last year’s archives and tag the top 10 columns. We took into account web views, reader reaction, our personal preferences, and the secretive algorithm cooked up by the home office in Burbank, in order to bring you the very best of RHSU, circa 2019.

There were a few that didn’t make the final cut but that seemed to merit a mention. So I’ll give a quick nod to three that just missed the cut: Four Surprising Truths About U.S. Schooling (June 24, 2019), When Did Good Parenting Become a Problem? (March 25, 2019), and 4 Reasons I’m Wary of School Reform’s Pivot to ‘Practice’ (January 28, 2019). Now, without further ado, here are the top 10 RHSU columns of 2019:

10. SEL Is Easy to Love, Which Should Make Us Nervous, January 21, 2019: When reforms seem intuitive, it's natural for supporters to focus on "scale" and "implementation" rather than consider what could possibly go wrong. 9. Rejecting Personal Responsibility Is No Way to Promote Educational Equity, September 9, 2019: Fearing to tell students they're responsible for doing their part is to set them up for failure. 8. The Secret Source of Lost Learning and Educator Burnout, June 10, 2019: Teachers spend more than a third of their instructional time on tasks other than instruction. And that's before we add in paperwork done outside the classroom. 7. How to Make the Case for School Choice, October 28, 2019: Choice advocates tend to argue that school choice "works," the public school system is a failure, and moral authority is on their side. There's a much stronger argument. 6. The Problem With Education Research Fixated on 'What Works?', April 22, 2019: Our relentless focus on "What works?" has rewarded programs designed to yield short-term bumps in test scores while distracting attention from more fundamental and complex efforts. 5. Talking Personalized, Data-Rich Equity With Education Guy Paul Banksley, June 17, 2019: Rick recently got another chance to interview Paul Banksley, the edu-visionary and founder of Tomorrows Are for Tomorrow. Here's what he said. 4. The Wham-O Pudding Essay Contest Theory of Educational Innovation, July 15, 2019: I regularly receive invitations to participate in essay contests devoted to rethinking American education. These competitions, I fear, are the worst way to spur real change. 3. Five Signs Your Reform Has Become Another Education Fad, October 7, 2019: Eager vendors, early-adopting educators, and media adulation can be taken as evidence that a reform is going swimmingly—but these signs are frequently misread. 2. That's Not Helpful, Rick, June 3, 2019: Once or twice a week, someone tells me that something I'd written "wasn't helpful." But what they usually have in mind is "shut up and get with the program." 1. The Parable of the Teacher and the Experts, September 3, 2019: It's the dawn of a new school year. As Rick sat down to write about it, he got a premonition of how this school year will once again go for so many.

Well, there you are. Thoughts and comments are welcome. Meanwhile, ready or not, 2020, here we come.

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.