by Frederick M. Hess
American Enterprise Institute
February 11, 2013
When it comes to reforming American education, today’s would-be reformers only get it half right. On the one hand, they correctly argue that statutes, rules, regulations, and contracts make it difficult for schools and school system leaders to drive improvement and lead. On the other hand, they wrongly overlook the fact that school officials have far more freedom to transform, reimagine, and invigorate teaching, learning, and schooling than is widely believed. This “culture of can’t” in K–12 education threatens to undermine the success of hard-won reforms, and makes policy impediments appear more burdensome than they truly are. Reformers must help district superintendents and principals combat the culture of can’t by encouraging these leaders to better understand teacher contracts, hire reform-minded lawyers, and partner with the advocacy, business, and philanthropic communities.

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