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

Three Good Edu-Reads: Petrilli, Smarick, & Chubb

By Rick Hess — December 07, 2012 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The holidays are fast approaching. And nothing complements eggnog, roaring fireplaces, and snow-soaked mittens like a good edu-read. Plus, when you’re seeking one last stocking stuffer or something to settle in with on a lazy December evening, what’s better than a fun, breezy, contrarian take on ed policy? For what it’s worth, here are three books that I heartily recommend. Now, I can’t pretend to be “objective” on these, given that they’re all written by good friends and that I’ve variously blurbed them, helped publish them, and such. But, I can tell you, flatly, that these are three smart, well-written, and provocative books that are worth checking out.

Fordham Institute’s Mike Petrilli has penned The Diverse Schools Dilemma, which looks at the decisions parents face when choosing schools for their kids. A model of perpetual angst himself when it comes to these kinds of issues, Mike elegantly captures the choices with which parents wrestle and the research that can help inform them. He notes that many of today’s professional families would like to live in urban environments but fret about the quality of the schools their children will attend. Parents want the diversity of urban communities and their children to attend diverse schools, but they don’t want to sacrifice educational quality or put their kids in unsafe environments. Mike does a terrific job of using personal anecdotes, surprising evidence, and conversations with researchers and parents to write a fascinating and remarkably useful volume.

Andy Smarick, former deputy superintendent in New Jersey and now at Bellwether Education Partners, has written The Urban School System of the Future. He offers an ambitious, vociferous critique of urban school systems and suggests how they can be reimagined. Andy argues that most of today’s reform agenda amounts to tinkering, and won’t transform urban education. Building on Paul Hill’s old notion of “portfolio management,” and marrying it to the more aggressive vision of “relinquishment” that NSNO’s Neerav Kingsland has floated here, he sketches a vision of a new governance model based on the principles of chartering. He imagines a Chancellor of City Schools who would oversee all district and charter schools-and be charged with expanding successful ones, approving new schools, and closing lousy ones. It’s a take sure to start conversations, including-- as my colleague Mike McShane has asked here in Education Next--one about whether creating this new chancellor would solve the governance problems that Andy flags.

And the dapper John Chubb, CEO of Education Sector, has penned The Best Teachers in the World: Why We Don’t Have Them and How We Could. John pushes past the tedious conventions of today’s “teacher quality” debates, with their relentless focus on better evaluating how well teachers do a 19th century job in 19th century classrooms. He argues that it’s vital to use technology to rethink classrooms and extend the reach of terrific teachers. He contends that training should shift away from ed schools to any provider that can demonstrate evidence that it is producing teachers who raise student achievement (I’m fine with the first half of this recipe, but have some serious qualms about reifying value-added scores the way he does here.) And he calls for empowering principals to do much more when it comes to hiring, training, and compensating teachers, so that they can recruit, support, and recognize excellence. Love or hate what John has to say, he’s penned a quick read that’s sure to spark sharp debate and fresh thinking.

Enjoy!

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.

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
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Practices & the Construction of the Deep Reading Brain
Join Ryan Lee-James, Ph.D. CCC-SLP, director of the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, with Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD., Vital Village Community Engagement Network; Neena McConnico, Ph.D, LMHC, Child Witness to Violence Project; and Sondra
Content provided by Rollins Center

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 Hundreds of Conn. Bus Drivers Threaten to Walk Off the Job Over Vaccine Mandate
More than 200 school bus drivers could walk off the job in response to a vaccination mandate that goes into effect Monday.
1 min read
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk.
Rows of school buses are parked at their terminal, in Zelienople, Pa. Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. <br/>
Keith Srakocic/AP Photo
Education Briefly Stated: September 22, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)