People / Staff

David Osborne

David Osborne is the director of the Reinventing America’s Schools Project at the Progressive Policy Institute. As of September 5, 2017( the 25th anniversary of the opening of the first charter schools), his new book on education reform has been released, Reinventing's America's Schools. Learn more at ReinventingEd.us. Osborne is the author or co-author of five books: 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 best-seller, 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 / 5.24.2016

In 2005, Denver stepped into the national spotlight by adopting a performance pay system negotiated with the teachers’ union, financed by a $25 million-a-year boost in property taxes. The subsequent decade of experience reveals a surprising lesson: No one in Denver thinks performance pay has made much difference in student outcomes, but most agree that […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 5.13.2016

Some of the most dramatic gains in urban education have come from school districts using a “portfolio strategy”: negotiating performance agreements with some mix of traditional, charter and hybrid public schools, allowing them great autonomy, letting them handcraft their schools to fit the needs of their students, giving parents their choice of schools, replicating successful […]

Other

By / 5.4.2016

Some of the most dramatic gains in urban education have come from school districts using what many call a “portfolio strategy.” Others call it “reinvention,” a “21st century approach,” or “relinquishment.” By whatever name, it generally means that districts negotiate performance agreements with some mix of traditional, charter, and hybrid public schools, allow them great […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 4.14.2016

If the democratic candidates are serious about combating inequality, they should start by embracing education reform. For education reformers, the 2016 presidential primaries have been a wasteland. The Republican circus has produced many memorable moments, but few if any have touched on education. Even on the Democratic side, education has been virtually invisible. The major […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 4.12.2016

Some of the most dramatic gains in urban education have come from school districts using what’s known as a “portfolio strategy.” Under this approach, districts negotiate performance agreements with public schools—traditional, charter, and hybrid models. The arrangement affords school leaders substantial autonomy to handcraft their schools to fit the needs of their students. Districts give […]

Other

By and / 3.9.2016

Growing inequality has emerged as a central issue in the 2016 presidential election. Yet none of you has paid much attention to a major source of economic inequality in America: the uneven quality of our public schools. As far as we can determine, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has no thoughts on how to improve K-12 […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 1.20.2016

The first time I visited a Summit Public School, in February 2014, I pulled up in front of a one-story building in an office park. I was sure I had the wrong address – but no, there was a sign. This was Summit Denali, in Sunnyvale, California. Inside, my surprise deepened. All the students, then […]

Other

By / 1.7.2016

The first time I visited a Summit Public School, in February 2014, I pulled up in front of a long, low, one-story building in an office park setting. I was sure I had the wrong address—but no, there was a sign. This was Summit Denali, in Sunnyvale, California. Inside, my surprise deepened. All the students, […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 11.30.2015

Everyone in public education knows that what happens at home is more important than what happens at school. Hence, many successful schools work to engage parents (or their substitutes) in their children’s education. Indeed, many of the nation’s best charter schools have long sent teachers to visit their students’ homes and asked parents to sign […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 10.5.2015

In public education, the District of Columbia may be the nation’s most interesting laboratory. It is the only city with two public school systems of roughly equal size, each with a different governance model. The results of this competition have profound implications for the future of public education nationwide. The older of the two, the […]