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 / 5.22.2020

It is time for Latinx communities to build the political power necessary to demand education reforms that benefit their children, several Latinx leaders argue. Within 16 months, 30 percent of all public school students will be Latinx, they pointed out during a recent Progressive Policy Institute webinar. But school boards often have no idea what these […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 5.20.2020

As school winds down for this year, discussion in education circles has turned to next year. After a spring of uneven distance learning and a long summer, should classes pick up where they were last March—or where they would normally start? Should they ask those who did not participate in distance learning to repeat a […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 4.27.2020

This year, thanks to the coronavirus, the dreaded “summer slide” will be worse than usual. Studies have found that students lose up to 25 to 30 percent of what they learned in an academic year over the following summer, with the worst losses, particularly in reading, among low-income kids. A Gallup survey done in early April found that 83 […]

Op-eds and Articles

By / 4.10.2020

No sooner had Michigan closed its public schools than the state Department of Education announced that no distance learning time would count toward the required 180 days of instruction. When met with a storm of criticism from district and school leaders, parents, students, and the governor, the department blamed state law. Meanwhile Pennsylvania’s Department of Education encouraged […]

Blog

By / 3.30.2020

Lest anyone still thinks the teachers union in Los Angeles cares a whit about school children, its president, Alex Caputo-Pearl, has again demanded that L.A. Unified School District block any expansion of charter schools. These schools educate almost a quarter of Los Angeles County’s public school students—and do it far more effectively than district-operated schools. […]

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 3.19.2020

Sadly, education has been all but ignored in this year’s Democratic primaries. But a new poll commissioned by the Progressive Policy Institute points toward one reason Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have not lived up to their supporters’ hopes: Their embrace of free college and paying off all student debt strikes many voters as […]

Op-eds and Articles

By and / 1.22.2020

With 55 percent of its students in chartered public schools or renaissance schools — neighborhood schools operated by charter organizations — Camden, New Jersey, has implemented one of the most ambitious portfolio strategies in the nation in recent years. It has done so under state control, but New Jersey will probably return power to an […]