Working Around Parental Wants and Policymakers to Reform School Environments to Make Them More Conducive to Learning

The pandemic brought schooling into the American home for the first time in centuries, which has brought school quality to the forefront of American minds. Gallup reports that parents’ overall satisfaction is declining for the third year in a row; only 41% of parents were satisfied with their child’s schooling in 2022. Conversations about school reform are rampant as parents and educators scramble to meet new challenges.

How should we think about schools and changing them to be more conducive to learning as policymakers approach reform in the 2020s? The Future of Education host, Michael B. Horn, discusses the landscape of school reform with his long-time colleague and celebrated educator, Rick Hess. Horn and his guest talk through the key points of Hess’s newest book, The Great School Rethink, and his 25 years of experience in the realm of education. They attempt to sort through the problems facing education including bureaucracy, the conflict between policymakers and parental needs, and why reform tends to fail.

Hess and Horn also discuss…

● How to make discussions surrounding reform feel less personal

● Buzzwords like “innovation” and “school choice” in education policy

● Problems facing funders’ attempts to measure student achievement

Hess encourages listeners to see the pandemic as an opportunity to redo American education. His 25 years of observing the industry have shown him that policies often create bureaucracy instead of a culture that reflects what communities value. Hess fears that if we aren’t careful, we may create environments that aren’t conducive to true learning. He believes with proper care, “we [can] assure kids that [reform] is about them instead of bureaucratic nonsense.”

Frederick “Rick” Hess is a renowned educator, political scientist, and author. He’s a senior fellow and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he works on issues facing K-12 and higher education. His publications can be found in various scholarly magazines, like American Politics Quarterly, and popular news outlets, like The Atlantic. Hess’s popular blog Rick Hess Straight Up is a great resource for educators and stakeholders.

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