Around noon tomorrow, President-elect Biden will take the oath of office and become President Biden. Along with millions of others, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

Now, I’m skeptical of many of the policies that the Biden administration promises to pursue. Indeed, he’s not yet president and I’m already concerned about his proposed $1.9 trillion relief package. But living in a free nation means that sometimes you get your preferences and sometimes you don’t. That’s the deal.

Here’s what is more important: Tomorrow, a man who has long made it clear that he respects and understands the obligations of the presidency will take the office. Biden has exhibited maturity and grace in handling an unprecedented transition made perilous by his unpresidential predecessor. He has nominated officials who generally strike me as experienced, sober, and responsible figures. …


This is a low point for those who take conservatism seriously. We’ve just watched a Republican president provoke an assault on Congress after two months spent promoting fabricated, seditious conspiracy theories. Even as Donald Trump’s ravings were debunked time and again, scores of Republican lawmakers stood by his side as he sought to overturn a democratic election. It’s been a horrifying, craven display.

With Trump, his apologists, and his Capitol Hill henchmen claiming to be conservatives, it’s a tough time to make the case for conservative ideas. That just makes it all the more important for those of us who reject Trump’s poisonous faux-conservatism to make clear what we actually stand for — to speak to shared values, essential truths, and how we’d seek to improve the lives of Americans. …


Last week, President Trump encouraged his out-of-control devotees to assault the seat of the American government. The morning after this vicious (if inept) insurrection unfolded four miles from my children’s bedrooms, I observed:

As an American, yesterday’s riotous assault on the U.S. Capitol was a horrific, seditious display. As a parent, it was a terrifying one. As an educator, it was a call to duty.

The blame for yesterday’s insanity lies solely with President Trump, his henchmen on Capitol Hill, and his enablers and apologists in the media and the Republican Party. Period. …


Yesterday, we unveiled the 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings. Of course, over the years, readers have also expressed an interest in how scholars fared when it came to particular fields of study. After all, education research includes a lot of people doing very different kinds of work. Consequently, where scholars rank overall may be less telling than where they rank within their field. Today, we’ll report on the top 10 finishers for five disciplinary categories and also give a special nod to the junior faculty who made the rankings. …


Today, we unveil the 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, ranking the university-based scholars in the U.S. who did the most last year to shape educational practice and policy. Simply being included in this list of 200 scholars is an accomplishment, given the 20,000 or more who might qualify. The list includes the top finishers from last year, augmented by “at-large” nominees chosen by the 28-member Selection Committee (see yesterday’s post for a list of committee members, an explanation of the selection process, and all the salacious methodological particulars).

Without further ado, here are the 2021 rankings (scroll through the chart to see all names and scores). Please note that all university affiliations reflect a scholar’s institution as of December 2020. …


Tomorrow, I’ll be unveiling the 11th annual 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, recognizing the 200 university-based scholars who had the biggest influence on educational practice and policy last year. Today, I want to run through the methodology used to generate those rankings.

Given that more than 20,000 university-based faculty in the U.S. are researching education, simply making it onto the Edu-Scholar list is an accomplishment. The list is comprised of university-based scholars who focus primarily on educational questions (with “university-based” meaning a formal university affiliation). Scholars who do not have a formal affiliation on a university website are ineligible.

The 150 finishers from last year automatically qualified for a spot in this year’s Top 200, so long as they accumulated at least 10 “active points” in last year’s scoring. (This is a gauge of current activity and so includes all categories except Google Scholar and Book Points, which are measures of career-long achievement.) The automatic qualifiers were then augmented by “at-large” additions chosen by the RHSU Selection Committee, a disciplinarily, methodologically, and ideologically diverse group of accomplished scholars. …


On Wednesday in this space, I’ll be publishing the 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, honoring the 200 education scholars who had the biggest influence on the nation’s education discourse last year. Today, I want to take a few moments to explain the purpose of those rankings (I’ll review the scoring rubric tomorrow).

The exercise starts from two simple premises: 1) Ideas matter, and 2) People devote more time and energy to those activities that are valued. The academy today does a passable job of acknowledging good disciplinary scholarship but a pretty poor job of recognizing scholars who move ideas from the pages of barely read journals into the real world of policy and practice. …


Just a heads-up that next week, I’ll be running the 2021 RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings, recognizing the 200 edu-scholars who had the biggest influence on the nation’s education discourse last year. The exercise is designed to balance the academy’s unfortunate tendency to discount scholarship that makes a real, relevant contributions to vital public-policy debates.

The Public Influence Rankings seek to recognize university-based education scholars, of any discipline or bent, for their contributions to the public square. Edu-scholar influence encompasses both one’s corpus of scholarly work and centrality to discussion of education policy or practice. …


It’s (finally) time to bid goodbye to 2020 and welcome a new year. In a few weeks, President-elect Biden will be sworn in. Among other things, that means it’s moving season for Trump appointees at the U.S. Department of Education and that Biden’s team will soon take charge. As the new crowd thinks about what’s ahead, it’s a propitious time to dust off these New Year’s Resolutions I penned four years ago for the benefit of Betsy DeVos’ soon-to-be staff. I think they’re broadly applicable this time around, too.

1. I’ll tell myself every day: “I’m no smarter than I used to be just because I’ve been hired as a federal bureaucrat.” …


It’s almost 2021. I keep thinking, “You can’t get here soon enough.” As we prepare to put 2020 in the books, we have a chance to reflect on the strangest year I can recall. The shocks came fast and furious, from impeachment, to a once-a-century pandemic, to a massive wave of protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd, to a summer of riots, to a president refusing to acknowledge his election defeat. Much of this found its ways into the world of education, most obviously through the school closures that — for millions of students — are now stretching into their 10th month. …

About

Frederick M. Hess

Direct Ed Policy Studies at AEI. Teach a bit at Rice, UPenn, Harvard. Author of books like Cage-Busting Leadership and Spinning Wheels. Pen Ed Week's RHSU blog.

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