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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

Turning It Over to the New Sector-ites

By Rick Hess — April 08, 2011 2 min read
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So, I’ll be at AERA for the next few days. Planning against the possibility that I’m going to be taken into custody or forced into an undisclosed location by a cabal of irate edu-colleagues, my “plan-for-the-worst” assistant Daniel Lautzenheiser suggested we turn RHSU over to guest bloggers for the next few weeks. You know, just in case...

Once again, we’ve lined up guest bloggers who are all more knowledgeable and interesting than yours truly. (That it’s so easy to do so is starting to do a number on my self-esteem.) In any event, let’s introduce your all-star lineup for the next couple weeks, which features three stars from K-12’s “new sector.”

First up is Justin Cohen. Justin is president of the School Turnaround Group at Mass Insight Education and in charge of launching a multi-year “Partnership Zone Initiative” in several states. Especially given my frequently voiced doubts about some of the excesses in the turnaround space, I thought it’d be interesting to hear Justin’s thoughts. The dude is bright. He’s got a B.A. in cognitive science from Yale, and previously served as director of the office of portfolio management for Michelle Rhee in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). His friends can testify to the accuracy of his self-appraisal as a “stand-up comedy nerd, James Joyce fanatic, and fashion victim.”

Next up is Heather Harding. Heather is the Vice President of Research & Public Affairs at Teach For America. As TFA’s research chief, she’s charged with developing the research agenda and engaging the ed reform and academic communities. A former TFA corps member, she majored in journalism at Northwestern and got her doctorate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Given the raft of questions about the nature of TFA’s impact, and the talismanic space that TFA occupies in today’s teacher quality debates, I think you’ll find Heather’s take to be fascinating.

Finally, we’ll turn RHSU over to the madman--the one and only Greg Gunn. Greg was a co-founder of Wireless Generation, the ed tech firm News Corp. acquired a few months back. Greg is now operating as a venture investor in the edu-space and dabbling in a handful of efforts (including the Futures of Education project). And the guy is just scary smart. A Rhodes Scholar with an MBA and Master’s in Electrical Engineering from MIT, Greg’s taught math, physics, and computer science in everything from elementary to graduate school.

All three are engaged in interesting new sector outfits and are wrestling with the challenge of school improvement in intriguing ways. I trust you’ll find them as thoughtful and provocative as I do. And I’ll look forward to rejoining you all in late April.

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.