What if it's the system that's the problem? What if the key to breakthrough school improvement is not mandating new solutions built on an elusive combination of the right standards, pedagogy, and assessments but removing entrenched bureaucratic barriers and rethinking restrictive norms and routines? What if we were free to start from scratch? This is the greenfield reform strategy: Create an environment that invites new solutions to surface and provide the infrastructure necessary for them to succeed.
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In Education Unbound: The Promise and Practice of Greenfield Schooling, Frederick M. Hess advocates for an entrepreneurial approach focused on supporting outstanding teaching and learning. Sharing the examples of organizations whose bold alternative strategies represent promising shifts in K-12 education, Hess builds a case for
* School systems marked by data on performance and productivity and compelled to compete on cost and quality.
* Personnel policies designed to attract, retain, and reward teachers and leaders committed to excellence.
* Education funding configured to support new ventures and foster creative problem solving.
The goal, Hess argues, ought not to be the creation of a new "best" system but schools capable of evolving with the students and society they serve. Education Unbound is a catalyst for conversation and change and a must-read for practitioners, policymakers, would-be education entrepreneurs, and anyone committed to school excellence and the next steps in education reform.