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Common Sense School Reform

Wednesday April 2004


Frederick M. Hess Director of Education Policy Studies and Resident Scholar American Enterprise Institute

One of the real tragedies in American education is that so few schools are excellent, and that so few public school districts are able to replicate lessons learned from the handful of innovative principals and teachers who manage to overcome the risk-averse, bureaucratic mindset that dominates their profession.

In his new book, Common Sense School Reform, noted education scholar Frederick Hess explains how real reform of American education requires injecting common sense back into America’s classrooms. Hess calls for policymakers to enact reforms based on accountability and flexibility—thereby creating a culture of competence in schools where success is expected and excellence is rewarded. Hess explains how a handful of basic reforms (including test-based accountability and merit pay) can transform the landscape of American education.