The Cage-Busting Teacher adopts the logic of Cage-Busting Leadership and applies it to the unique challenges and opportunities of classroom teachers. Detailed, accessible, and thoroughly engaging, it uncovers the many ways in which teachers can break out of familiar constraints in order to influence school and classroom practice, education policy, and school reform. “Cage-busting is concrete, precise, andpractical,” writes Frederick M. Hess. This invaluable book helps teachers understand why and how to revisit their assumptions and enables them to have greater impacts upon their schools and beyond.
Based on interviews with hundreds of teachers, teacher advocates, union leaders, and others, Hess identifies the challenges teachers face, seeks concrete and workable solutions, and offers recommendations to put those solutions in place. A uniquely practical and inspiring book, The Cage-Busting Teacher is for educators who want to shape the schools and systems in which they work.
The Classroom Cage 1
Choose to Be a Problem Solver 35
Managing Up 59
Millions of Registered Voters—and Their Kids 87
Tackling Everyday Problems 111
The Union Question 139
Square Pegs and Round Holes 167
You Are Braver Than You Believe 191
APPENDIX A Cage-Busting for Beginners 215
APPENDIX B Glossary of Terms 237
APPENDIX C Teacher Voice Organizations 241
APPENDIX D Fellowships and Leadership Opportunities 247
APPENDIX E Resources for Rethinking the Profession 253
APPENDIX F AFT and NEA Initiatives 257
APPENDIX G Questions for Further Thought and Exploration 261
Notes 273 Acknowledgments 283 About the Author 285 Index 287
Frederick M. Hess is resident scholar and director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. An educator, political scientist, and author, Hess studies a range of 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 Educational Review, Social Science Quarterly, Urban Affairs Review, American Politics Quarterly, Chronicle of Higher Education, Phi Delta Kappan, Educational Leadership, U.S. News & World Report, National Affairs, The Atlantic, National Review, USA Today, Washington Post, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal. He has edited widely cited volumes on the Common Core, education philanthropy, urban school reform, how to stretch the school dollar, education entrepreneurship, the federal role in education, and No Child Left Behind. Hess serves as executive editor of Education Next, as lead faculty member for the Rice Education Entrepreneurship Program, as senior fellow for the Leadership Institute of Nevada, 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 Georgetown University, Rice University, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and the University of Virginia.
“This book needed to be written. We can see internationally how a desire to improve education has led to fruits and weeds in equal measure. The key voice that has been forgotten in all this has been the notso-humble educator. I can’t agree with Hess enough: we need to stop waiting for Superman to come and fix everything, and start thinking about how we can fix things from the bottom up and inside out. Maybe then we can call ourselves a profession again.” —Tom Bennett, Times Education Supplement
"In light of the increasing number of policy directives handed down to teachers, Hess’ message is a welcome one—teachers can and should find the initiative, resources, strategies, and power to enact educational change on their own terms and in their own ways.The book, written as somewhat of a journalistic account with anecdotal evidence, stories, and with some references to educational research, is an accessible read that will interest teachers, administrators, parents, teacher educators, and policymakers." —Daniel Meier, Teachers College Review
"This book suggests something revolutionary: that teachers might be the best instigators of their own re-invention rather than waiting for Superman to fix it all." —Tom Bennett, Times Education Supplement
The Cage-Busting Teacher provides practical advice for teachers wishing to find the space to make creative improvements from within their profession. —Eric Wearne, Education Review