Commitment and Common Sense

Commitment and Common Sense Leading Education Reform in Massachusetts

David P. Driscoll
paper, 256 Pages
Pub. Date: November 2017
ISBN-13: 978-1-68253-116-7
Price: $33.00

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Commitment and Common Sense tells the inside story of how Massachusetts became a national model for education. Twelve years after the passage of the state’s comprehensive education reform law in 1993, Bay State student scores rose to the top of “the nation’s report card” (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) in fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math—and have stayed there ever since.


In Commitment and Common Sense, Driscoll shares important insights into the fundamentals of Massachusetts’s success. It’s a must-read for those seeking education progress in the United States. — Rod Paige, US Secretary of Education, 2001–2005

Progress in our nation’s schools has never been more dependent on the quality of state leadership than it is today, in the era of ESSA. At the same time, our polarized politics has made thoughtful leadership in government a rare commodity. David Driscoll uses the story of his extraordinary career to affirm that, given high expectations set by leaders willing to stand up for those expectations, American students can achieve at the highest levels. — John White, state superintendent of education, Louisiana

Commitment and Common Sense guides readers along the Herculean path to thoughtful education reform. This is an essential primer for leaders looking to address the challenges of sustained success in teacher development and student learning. — Lillian M. Lowery, vice president for P–12 policy, research, and practice at The Education Trust, and former secretary of education, Delaware

The book tells it like it is. It is an authentic, at times funny, always compelling account of how this landmark comprehensive policy reform was shaped and implemented. — Marc Tucker, Education Week

Driscoll is a master teacher, and Commitment and Common Sense is his seminar on leadership and practical advice to public leaders who want to master the fine art of balancing 'the policy of the law with the realities on the ground.' — John Schneider, CommonWealth Magazine

David P. Driscoll’s new book Commitment and Common Sense offers a lot of what current education policy discussions lack—wisdom. — Jay P. Greene, Education Next

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About the Author

David P. Driscoll was the twenty-second commissioner of education for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was appointed by the Board of Education on March 10, 1999.

Dr. Driscoll has a forty-five-year career in public education and educational leadership. A former secondary school mathematics teacher, he was named Melrose assistant superintendent in 1972 and superintendent of schools in the same community in 1984. He served in that role until 1993, when he was appointed Massachusetts deputy commissioner of education, just days after the state’s Education Reform Act was signed into law. He became interim commissioner of education on July 1, 1998.

Dr. Driscoll earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Boston College, his master’s degree in educational administration from Salem State College, and his doctorate in education administration from Boston College.

He is past president of the Harvard Round Table of School Superintendents and the Merrimack Valley Superintendents Roundtable, was an elected member of the executive board of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents, and was vice president of the superintendents’ association at the time of his appointment as deputy commissioner. Dr. Driscoll was president of the Council of Chief State School Officers and currently serves on several boards, including Teach Plus, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the K12 Advisory Board, and the National Institute for School Leadership. He was appointed chair of the National Assessment Governing Board by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2008.

He is the youngest of ten children. His wife, Kathleen, is a former reading teacher at North Shore Vocational High School. The Driscolls have four children and three grandchildren. They live in Melrose, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents


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