Education Letter to the Editor

Why Publish a Blog By AEI ‘Operative’?

April 20, 2010 1 min read

David Marshak,
Bellingham, Wash.

Education Week claims that it takes no editorial positions. So why is it publishing and promoting a blog, Rick Hess Straight Up, written by a resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute?

Frederick M. Hess is not an educator or a researcher or a journalist. He’s the director of education policy studies at AEI. He is employed by AEI to further the goals of the organization. Since AEI is a political organization, Mr. Hess is essentially a political operative—and a very smart and skilled one at that.

AEI declares itself to be “a private, nonpartisan, not-for-profit institution dedicated to research and education.” But despite its claims to nonpartisanship—which, I assume, are for tax purposes—everyone knows that AEI develops and promotes policy for the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party.

Mr. Hess’ new book, Education Unbound: The Promise and Practice of Greenfield Schooling, follows the neocon Republican line in arguing that to improve schools, we need to “scrub away” rules and regulations. Of course, this is the neocon panacea for every problem. Mr. Hess calls this “scrubbing away” a “greenfield” approach.

This is exactly what L. Paul Bremer III, our American viceroy in Baghdad, tried in Iraq in 2003. It’s what Alan Greenspan tried his hardest to create in the American economy when he presided over the Federal Reserve. We know now how both of those “greenfields” turned out.

So why is your newspaper giving a prominent spot on its Web site to this employee of the very heart and soul of the neoconservative Republican universe?

David Marshak

Bellingham, Wash.

Editor’s Note: In fulfilling its pledge to take no editorial positions, Education Week is committed to presenting multiple sides of current issues, so that readers may draw their own conclusions. In that spirit, its stable of bloggers includes writers with a range of political perspectives. To learn more about Education Week blogs, go to www.edweek.org/go/blogs. For the record, Mr. Hess taught high school social sciences, received an M.Ed. degree from Harvard University, and has held faculty positions in education at several universities, including the University of Virginia.

A version of this article appeared in the April 21, 2010 edition of Education Week as Why Publish a Blog By AEI ‘Operative’?