People / Staff

David Osborne

David Osborne is the director of the Reinventing America’s Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. As of September, 2017 (the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first charter school), his new book on education reform has been released, Reinventing's America's Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System. Learn more at ReinventingEd.us. Osborne is the author or co-author of seven books, including, The Price of Government: Getting the Results We Need in an Age of Permanent Fiscal Crisis (2004); The Reinventor's Fieldbook: Tools for Transforming Your Government (2000), Banishing Bureaucracy: The Five Strategies For Reinventing Government (1997), Reinventing Government (1992), and Laboratories of Democracy (1988). He has also authored numerous articles for the Washington Post, the Atlantic, the New York Times Magazine, Harpers, The New Republic, Inc., Governing, Education Week, and other publications.

From 1994 through 2014, Osborne was a senior partner of The Public Strategies Group, a consulting firm that helped public organizations improve their performance. He worked with governments large and small, from cities, counties, and school districts to states, federal agencies, and foreign governments. He lectured widely around the globe and advised presidents, ministers, governors, mayors, city managers and many other public sector leaders.

In 1993, he served as a senior advisor to Vice President Gore, to help run what the Vice President often called his "reinventing government task force," the National Performance Review. He was the chief author of the NPR report, which laid out the Clinton Administration’s reinvention agenda, called by Time "the most readable federal document in memory." In 2000 he served as an advisor to the Gore presidential campaign.

Osborne also serves as a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a Congressionally chartered organization similar to the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the National Selection Committee for the Innovations in American Government Awards. From 1992 through 1997, he served as chairman of the Alliance for Redesigning Government, a National Academy initiative to help public sector leaders and managers at all levels of government learn more about reinvention and redesign.

He also served for seven years on the Mass Jobs Council, Massachusetts’ statewide workforce development board, where he chaired the One-Stop Career Center Committee, which led the development of One-Stop Career Centers in Massachusetts. In 1998-99 he served as a member of the Education Commission of the States' National Commission on Governing America's Schools.

Osborne’s first book, Laboratories of Democracy (Harvard Business School Press, 1988), described how states were pioneering new education, economic development, health care, housing, welfare and other policies, to respond to the wrenching shift from an industrial to an information-age economy. Reinventing Government, a New York Times bestseller, described how public sector institutions all across America were transforming the bureaucratic models they had inherited from the past, making public organizations more flexible, creative, and entrepreneurial. Banishing Bureaucracy outlined the most powerful strategies available to create such organizations. It's sequel, The Reinventor's Fieldbook, fleshed out that picture by providing "how-to" guidance on more than 70 different tools reinventors can use, from performance management and customer service standards to competitive bidding and labor-management partnerships. Osborne’s 2004 book, The Price of Government, applied many of these ideas to the fiscal crisis then affecting the public sector, which Osborne and his co-author, Peter Hutchinson, argued would be with us for decades to come.

Writings

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 11.9.2017

Could charter schools and school choice be the best hope for integrating our public schools by race and income? Charter schools are public schools operated by independent organizations, usually nonprofits. They are freed from many of the rules that constrain district-operated schools. In exchange for increased autonomy, they are normally held accountable for their performance […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 11.2.2017

This summer, The 74 launched a special series of articles, profiles, and videos — as well as an exclusive microsite — based on the new book Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System by the Progressive Policy Institute’s David Osborne. In it, Osborne spotlights some of the country’s most innovative cities in rethinking […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 11.1.2017

Both major Twin Cities public school districts are facing some tough realities right now: relatively new leadership faced with multimillion-dollar budget deficits and declining enrollment. Many families within the districts’ boundaries are exercising school choice by open-enrolling their children in suburban districts or enrolling in charter schools. Since federal and state funding follows students, that […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 9.8.2017

On Sept. 8, 1992, the first charter school opened, in St. Paul, Minn. Twenty-five years later, some 7,000 of these schools serve about three million students around the U.S. Their growth has become controversial among those wedded to the status quo, but charters undeniably are effective, especially in urban areas. After four years in a […]

PPI In the News

By / 9.7.2017

On this week’s podcast, special guest David Osborne joins Mike Petrilli and Alyssa Schwenk to discuss his new book, Reinventing America’s Schools. During the Research Minute, Amber Northern examines a blockbuster study finding that the over-identification of minority children in special education is a myth. Listen here.

Op-eds and Articles

By / 9.6.2017

For almost two decades, education reform has been a source of conflict in the City of Brotherly Love. Much progress has been made, but too much energy is still devoted to fruitless district vs. charter debates. Those invested in such debates should take a look at the nation’s fastest-improving big cities, to see what can […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 9.5.2017

If we were creating school systems from scratch, would we teach the same way we did 50 years ago, before the advent of personal computers? Would we send children to school for only eight-and-a-half months a year? Would we let schools survive if, year after year, a third of their students dropped out? Would we […]

Blog

By and / 8.31.2017

In a recent media release, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) announced they are looking for “quality partners” to launch innovation network schools for the 2018-2019 school year. IPS explains their innovation school network as a group of “public schools with expanded autonomy to make academic and operational decisions that will maximize student achievement. Innovation schools also […]

Op-eds and Articles

David Osborne’s eyes light up when he talks about proof. A nationally renowned public policy reformer who is most well known for writing the New York Times bestseller Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector, and who now serves as a director of the forward-thinking Reinventing America’s Schools project at the […]

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 8.29.2017

Since President Obama’s Race to the Top competition made teacher evaluation systems based in part on academic growth a central requirement of winning, most states have mandated them. Making teachers accountable for student success is a laudable goal, but district-wide approaches don’t usually work. Most teachers regard evaluations as part of a bureaucratic checklist that […]