Shades of 'The Wire' — Duncan, Gates tell teachers to do 'more with less'

Some of you may recall the series The Wire in which, in the final season, the newspaper was the second focus - it was constantly cutting and management's mantra was "we have to do more with less." That led to a Pulitzer - but for a story that was fabricated. Make what inferences you will about test scores and real learning (or lack thereof). Anyway, here AEI and Fordham - both on the libertarian end of the spectrum - offer praises to Democrat Arne Duncan and to Bill Gates for their cheerleading for "more with less." Monty Neill

[News release]

November 22, 2010

‘Doing more with less’ is the new normal in education

Secretary Arne Duncan and Bill Gates praise the AEI-Fordham volume Stretching the School Dollar, stressing that it’s time to start spending education dollars wisely.

For the past two years, as Congress dished out more money to education through the stimulus and Edujobs bills, Frederick M. Hess of the American Enterprise Institute, along with the Fordham Institute’s Chester E. Finn Jr. and Michael J. Petrilli, have been sounding the alarm on the need to improve school productivity and spend school dollars more wisely and efficiently. Recently, two powerful voices lent their support to this effort—U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan and education philanthropist Bill Gates.

In a speech at AEI last week, Secretary Duncan said that, for the next several years, educators are likely to face a “new normal” of having to do more with less but that this challenge “can, and should, be embraced as an opportunity to make dramatic improvements” to the productivity of the educational system. And on Friday, in a speech before the Council of Chief State School Officers, Gates said school leaders should rethink some basic assumptions that impact budgets, including class sizes and the way teacher pay is structured.

In their comments, both of these education superstars referenced the newest AEI-Fordham volume, Stretching the School Dollar (Harvard Education Press, 2010), which touches on many of these same themes. The book explains forcefully how school leaders can, and must, not only survive the current economic storm but also fundamentally restructure their schools to save money and improve efficiency.

“The bottom line is that, in the next five years, leaders seeking to make a difference will have to find the dollars they need from existing sources—they can no longer count on fresh infusions of funding to fuel their improvement efforts,” said Frederick M. Hess, director of education policy studies at AEI and coeditor of Stretching the School Dollar. “Our school leaders will need political support in the challenges ahead. By stepping up to speak frankly and offer bold solutions, Secretary Duncan and Bill Gates are making it much easier for state and local leaders to make tough but necessary decisions.”

“Instead of tinkering around the edges, we need to fundamentally rethink the way we deliver education, compensate teachers, and organize our schools,” said Michael J. Petrilli, executive vice president at the Fordham Institute. “We’re glad to hear these two powerful education leaders talking about these issues. We see great opportunity for change here, and we hope this is the start of a bold new era in education productivity.”

To learn more about the Fordham Institute, visit To learn more about the American Enterprise Institute, visit To learn more about Stretching the School Dollar, or to purchase a copy of the book, please visit Harvard Education Press, at

Monty Neill, Ed.D.; Interim Executive Director, FairTest; 15 Court Sq., Ste. 820; Boston, MA 02108; 857-350-8207 x 101; fax 857-350-8209;;; Donate to FairTest:



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