Bush-Obama School Reform

Bush-Obama School Reform Lessons Learned

Edited by Frederick M. Hess and Michael Q. McShane
paper, 232 Pages
Pub. Date: September 2018
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-217-1
Price: $34.00

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Frederick M. Hess and Michael Q. McShane have gathered a diverse group of scholars to examine the shifting federal role in education across the presidential administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. While the administrations were vastly different, one thing remained constant: an ongoing and significant expansion of the federal role in education. Moreover, many of the key principles underlying federal reform remained consistent: an emphasis on standards- and test-based accountability; teacher quality as measured by test scores; school choice; and the importance of research in evaluating improvement initiatives.


The best policy is designed for the future with a deep appreciation for what the past has taught. Bush-Obama School Reform, the first scholarly compendium of lessons from sixteen of the most active and activist years in education policy, launches a critical discussion. — Joanne Weiss, president, Weiss Associates, former chief of staff to US Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and former director, Race to the Top Program

These smart essays deftly explore the paradoxes, ironies, lessons, ambitions, brands, victories, and defeats of education reform at the federal level. The book serves as a cautionary tale of ‘policy windows’ that open wide nationally and the forces that slam them shut, and offers lessons for the next generation of education wonks. — Stefanie Sanford, chief, Global Policy and External Relations, The College Board

This collection captures a fresh perspective on the politics and ideas that defined an era in education policy. Those working to shape the path forward should seek ways to build upon the lessons learned in Bush-Obama School Reform. — Roberto J. Rodriguez, former White House deputy assistant to President Barack Obama, and president and CEO, Teach Plus

I would recommend this book as an effective summary of federal education policy over the last five decades and the many lessons that have been learned. — Justin B. Henry, School Administrator

These chapters are informative for anyone interested in learning how our nation arrived at the present state of federal education policy and what the journey portends for the future. — Education Review

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About the Editors

Frederick M. Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). An educator, political scientist, and author, he studies K–12 and higher education issues. His books include Letters to a Young Education Reformer, The Cage-Busting Teacher, Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age, Cage-Busting Leadership, The Same Thing Over and Over, Education Unbound, Common Sense School Reform, Revolution at the Margins, and Spinning Wheels. He has edited influential books on the Common Core, entrepreneurship in education, education philanthropy, the impact of education research, and the Every Student Succeeds Act. Hess’s work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets, such as American Politics Quarterly, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Teachers College Record, National Affairs, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. He also authors the popular Education Week blog Rick Hess Straight Up. A former high school social studies teacher, Hess teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University.

Michael Q. McShane is the director of national research at EdChoice. His analyses and commentary have been published widely in the media, including in the Huffington Post, National Affairs, USA Today, and the Washington Post. He has also been featured in education-specific outlets such as Teachers College Commentary, Education Week, Phi Delta Kappan, and Education Next. In addition to authoring numerous white papers, McShane has had academic work published in Education Finance and Policy and the Journal of School Choice. He is the editor of New and Better Schools, author of Education and Opportunity, and coeditor of Teacher Quality 2.0 and Common Core Meets Education Reform. A former high school teacher, McShane is also an adjunct fellow in education policy studies at AEI and a research fellow in the Economic and Policy Analysis Research Center at the University of Missouri.