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.
Op-eds and Articles
When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently unveiled his education reform plan, it predictably castigated charter schools, claiming that they were “privatizing public schools.” Sanders joined a long line of leaders who tar charters with the privatization brush. Before, during and after the Los Angeles teachers strike last winter, union President Alex Caputo-Pearl did so repeatedly. […]
Progressives are rightly concerned about inequality, but some overlook the crucial role that underperforming public schools play in perpetuating poverty and inequality in America. The poor quality of many school systems is a serious impediment to social mobility for children from low-income and minority families, who can’t easily pick up and move to communities with […]
For a century, our public education system was the backbone of our success as a nation. By creating one of the world’s first mass education systems, free to all children, we forged the most educated workforce in the world. The creation of standardized, unified school systems with monopolies on free schooling had a dramatic impact […]
Op-eds and Articles
Listening to the rhetoric of the teachers unions, one might have thought the teachers’ strike in Los Angeles was about charter schools. “When someone says there’s no money, why isn’t there money?” National Education Assn. President Lily Eskelsen García asked on MSNBC the first day of the strike. “A big reason is because they’ve given […]
Op-eds and Articles
As a wise person once said, our words think our thoughts for us. A quarter-century ago, then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich taught the Republican Party to be very deliberate in its choice of words. Ever since, Republicans have carefully avoided the word “vouchers” — which are not terribly popular — in favor of the […]
Charter schools are tuition-free public schools operated by independent organizations. Freed from many rules and topdown policies constraining district-operated schools, charter school leaders have direct control over most school-level decisions. Indiana has the best charter school law in the country, according to the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools, because it allows full operational flexibility […]
Op-eds and Articles
After 11 years of centralization, Lewis D. Ferebee, the choice of D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to be the next D.C. schools chancellor (subject to confirmation by the D.C. Council), will bring a fresh perspective to D.C. Public Schools. As superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, his signature strategy was empowering principals and teachers. Tall […]
As a strong proponent of 21st century school systems, Reinventing America’s Schools would like to highlight Bellwether Education Partners’ Eight Cities, a project that attempts to answer the question: “How do you build a continuously improving system of schools?” The Eight Cities website, https://www.eightcities.org, profiles urban districts that have managed to get “more students into […]
This week, Mayor Muriel Bowser named Dr. Lewis Ferebee as the next chancellor of District of Columbia Public Schools. We at the Progressive Policy Institute have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Dr. Ferebee on several occasions. When working on his book, Reinventing America’s Schools Project Director David Osborne interviewed Dr. Ferebee, and […]
PPI In the News
Reinventing America’s Schools Project Director David Osborne appeared on the The Report Card, American Enterprise Institute’s education podcast hosted by Nat Malkus. On this episode, Malkus and Osborne discuss the history of charter schools and the future of chartering. They also highlight some of the lessons learned and challenges faced by charter proponents over the […]