Education Unbound
The Promise and Practice of Greenfield Schooling

  • Title:

    Education Unbound
  • Hardcover Price:

  • Hardcover ISBN:

  • Hardcover Dimensions:

    6" x 9"
  • 173 Hardcover pages

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Click here to watch Frederick M. Hess discuss Education Unbound

If you've ever felt frustrated by excessive paperwork, complicated school policies, and bureaucratic rules that keep your school from doing its best work, then here's a book that explains a different way to think about school administration. Frederick M. Hess introduces you to the concept of "greenfield schooling" and its potential to free-up schools to be more responsive to communities and kids. Pointing to examples of promising new models, the book explains how a break-the-mold approach to organizing and managing schools can:

  • Strip away barriers that impede new ventures and creative problem solving
  • Cultivate innovation from the ground up by unleashing the power of educational "entrepreneurship"
  • Expand accountability measurements beyond high-stakes tests to incorporate more valuable outcomes
  • Harness the power of new technologies to rethink learning environments and track teacher and student performance
  • Create teacher certification, hiring, and supervision policies that are conducive to success

Instead of searching for a silver bullet or the "one, best" solution to school improvement, explore a vision for schooling based on starting over with a new infrastructure that encourages talented, motivated individuals to find alternative paths to better teaching and learning.

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and director of education policy studies at AEI.

Praise for Education Unbound

"Other than starting with the same letter, education and entrepreneurship have had almost nothing in common. Rick Hess is determined to change that. Eschewing silver bullets, “best practices,” and other expert bromides from the educational establishment, he presents a well-thought-through analysis of how to enable entrepreneurialism and innovation to flourish in a way that will drive truly dynamic school reform. Fortunately for our children, Hess is on to something big."

--Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, New York City Department of Education

"Rick Hess’s Education Unbound offers a refreshing approach to our education dilemma. It is well past time we face the reality that the “find and fix” methods we have so energetically and honestly applied to our educational problems has not worked and continuing the same is unwise. This book is a must-read for those who seek authentic educational improvement."

--Rod Paige, Former U.S. Secretary of Education, 2000-2005

"Rick Hess continues to expose the toughest issues of transforming public schooling in America. An esteemed scholar who is always willing to speak his mind and shake up the status quo through innovation, he is someone we should listen to as we apply policy to practice. I look forward to hearing the dialogue that this book will create."

--Michelle Rhee, Chancellor, District of Columbia Public Schools

"Provocative and important. Hess puts on paper the ideas and ethos that is defining leading-edge education reform efforts today. Essential reading for educators, policymakers, and everyone who understands why it’s essential that we transform our education system."

--Andrew J. Rotherham, Co-Founder and Publisher Education Sector and author of

"In Education Unbound Frederick Hess continues his call to entrepreneurship as an essential force in improving education in the United States. Hess approaches reform with an economist’s sense of efficiency and an educator’s passion for effective teaching and student learning. In this volume, Hess argues that instead of lubricating current antiquated education systems we should cultivate new “Greenfield” landscapes. His arguments and examples will give hope to many educators who refuse to be resigned to dysfunction and are ready to overturn the status quo."

--Anthony S. Bryk, President, The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

"In Education Unbound Rick Hess argues persuasively that system rigidity is preventing school success at scale. Hess believes we must promote flexibility so that schools can find their own way to recruit talented teachers, focus on results, and reward success. Once again, Hess has offered a fresh perspective by challenging us to question the status quo in public education."

--Kathleen McCartney, Dean and Gerald S. Lesser Professor in Early Childhood Development, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"As the President and Secretary of Education urge the country to 'Race to the Top,' Rick Hess cautions that lasting school reform requires us to first attend to the fundamental structural obstacles that will keep us from success. Hess demonstrates that we will need equal doses of humility and courage if we are to make the most of this unique opportunity. Every state policymaker, educator, and entrepreneur committed to leveraging this moment for transformational change should start by grounding themselves in Hess’s trenchant analysis of what mistakes we’ve already made and how we can avoid making them again."

--Mike Johnston, Colorado State Senator, District 33

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About the Author


Frederick M.
  • An educator, political scientist and author, Frederick M. Hess studies K-12 and higher education issues. His books include "Cage-Busting Leadership," "Breakthrough Leadership in the Digital Age," "The Same Thing Over and Over," "Education Unbound," "Common Sense School Reform," "Revolution at the Margins," and "Spinning Wheels." He is also the author of the popular Education Week blog, "Rick Hess Straight Up." Hess's work has appeared in scholarly and popular outlets such as Teachers College Record, Harvard Education Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, the Washington Post, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic and National Review. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, the role of for-profits in education, education philanthropy, school costs and productivity, the impact of education research, and No Child Left Behind.  Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, and on the review boards for the Broad Prize in Urban Education and the Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools. He also serves on the boards of directors of the National Association of Charter School Authorizers and 4.0 SCHOOLS. A former high school social studies teacher, he teaches or has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, Rice University and Harvard University. He holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in Government, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching and Curriculum, from Harvard University.

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