The most interesting school district in America?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2013
CONTACT: [email protected] / 202.862.5829

What happens when an affluent, Republican, suburban school district implements reforms traditionally applied to low-income, Democratic, urban communities? In the case of Douglas County, Colorado, as AEI’s Frederick (Rick) Hess and Max Eden have found, choice, accountability, higher standards, and, most importantly - results.

In their just-released white paper, “The most interesting school district in America?: Douglas County and the Pursuit of Suburban Reform,” Hess and Eden showcase Douglas County as the district that “provides a stark counterpoint to the conventional reform narrative.” Whereas most districts undergoing significant school reform are trying to go from poor to passable, Douglas County’s distinctive aim is going from good to great. With a unanimously Republican school board, this district has been able to implement its own set of curricular standards (forgoing Common Core), custom-built student assessments, and rigorous, but innovative, teacher evaluations.

Word is spreading about Douglas County’s success, receiving national attention for using state charter law to institute the first-in-the-nation suburban voucher program and pursuing market-based pay for its teachers. Can these results be replicated, helping other districts, teachers and students nationwide? Hess and Eden note:

“While it’s easy for those focused on the urban agenda to dismiss suburban reform as a distraction or a novelty, it may be more useful to think of high-performing communities as terrific laboratories for bold solutions… Douglas County is serving as the site of what may well prove a critical chapter in the story of contemporary school reform. Attention ought to be paid."

To read the full white paper, click here. To join the Google+ Hangout with Douglas County’s Superintendent Elizabeth Celania-Fagen and Former US Secretary of Education William Bennett, and AEI’s Rick Hess and Michael McShane, click here.

Frederick M. Hess is a resident scholar and the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where Max Eden is a researcher. Please contact a media services representative at [email protected] or 202.862.5829 for additional information or media requests.

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Frederick M.



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