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
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 […]
Op-eds and Articles
D.C. Public Schools received well-deserved praise for its recent scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a.k.a. “The Nation’s Report Card.” Of the 27 urban districts that took the test in 2019, DCPS improved the fastest, continuing a trend that stretches back more than a decade. In 2003, when only a handful of urban districts participated, DCPS fourth-graders […]
Op-eds and Articles
Democratic presidential candidates claim they take money away from public schools. That’s nonsense. When Sen. Elizabeth Warren released her education plan, she trotted out a familiar charge against charter schools: that they “strain the resources of school districts.” To fight this supposed scourge, she promised to end federal financial support for new charter schools. And […]
Listening to the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates, one would think charter schools were a Republican initiative opposed by all progressives. Read the full piece here on Medium. By David Osborne and Emily Langhorne Listening to the rhetoric of Democratic presidential candidates, one would think charter schools were a Republican initiative opposed by all progressives. Bernie […]
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 […]