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The 10 Favorite Rick Hess Straight Up Posts of 2023 (Opinion)

It’s been a long year, with wars in Europe and the Middle East, momentous U.S. Supreme Court decisions on race-based admissions and student loans, a steady series of culture clashes, and persistent fears that AI is coming for our jobs. (Or our lives.) Before we turn the page and dive into an election year that seems calculated to feel at least as harried as the one just past, it’s worth looking back at the year just past. In that spirit, I like to revisit the RHSU columns I penned during the year and surface the top 10—as determined by readership, feedback, and personal preference.

There are always a few pieces that don’t necessarily make the cut of “top 10” but still seem to deserve a mention. This year, those include Teachers and Parents Are Skeptical of ‘New Reforms.’ Leaders Can Break the Cycle (May 22, 2023), ‘A Nation at Risk’ Turns 40: Its Roots, Its Legacy (April 24, 2023), SEL Allies and Foes Alike Deserve Tough Scrutiny (August 1, 2023).

Now, without further ado, here are the top 10 RHSU columns of 2023.

10. How Much Faith Should Educators Have in High-Dosage Tutoring? (February 6, 2023): Tutoring can be a powerful tool but enthusiasts risk turning it into one more expensive, disappointing fad.

9. Are Cultural Clashes Over K-12 Normal? (March 8, 2023): Through the decades, education has more often been shaped by value-laden debates than technocratic ones.

8. ‘Innovation’ Is a Four-Letter Word (June 19, 2023): Many in education thrill to the promise of ‘innovation.’ That’s a problem.

7. AI Isn’t the Problem. It’s How We Use It, Especially in Schools (July 24, 2023): The problem is not the technology but the tasks schools are asking students to do.

6. It’s OK to Like Both Public Schools and School Choice (September 18, 2023): Families want more options for their children. That doesn’t mean they dislike their local schools.

5. Republicans Keep Talking About Abolishing the Education Department. Why? (October 2, 2023): For decades, GOP presidential candidates have pledged to ax the federal agency. But, even if they’re sincere, it’ll be tough to deliver.

4. Grade Inflation Teaches Students We Don’t Mean What We Say (November 27, 2023): When we tell students that we care about hard work and merit and then don’t follow through, it has big consequences for students, teachers, and parents.

3. Is It Time to Ditch the Carnegie Unit? (September 25, 2023): A fixation on seat time has hindered efforts to sensibly rethink K–12 schooling. But is there a risk that abandoning the Carnegie Unit will create more problems in itself?

2. Am I Anti-Equity? You Decide (November 8, 2023): We’ve come to a place in education where ideologues are doing destructive things in the name of equity. Is it anti-equity to reject those efforts?

1. Could the Nation’s Largest District Afford to Double Teacher Pay and Triple Counseling? (May 2, 2023): New York City is spending $38,000 per student. If officials don’t think that’s enough to pay teachers, support students, and deliver excellence, something’s wrong. Let’s do the math.

OK. Time to start fresh and see what 2024 holds. Wishing all of you a happy and healthy new year. And, I don’t know about you, but I feel like we’ve had a whole lot of turbulence and that we’re due for a break.

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