Customized Schooling: Beyond Whole-School Reform


Customized Schooling coverThe back-cover blurb for this book characterizes it as
“ambitious”—and the word couldn’t be more fitting. Within its ten chapters, nineteen
of education’s big thinkers (yes, including Checker Finn and former Fordham VP
Eric Osberg) challenge our basic conceptions of education—starting with the foundational
unit of educational delivery (it’s not the school, but the student). After identifying and explaining this education
customization (or “unbundling”), the book presents the challenges faced around
service delivery, quality control, and policy implications. The authors major
foci are parent choice (at the course-level, not simply the school-level),
differentiated instruction (both the content and the form), harnessing
technologies, and data collection. Throughout, the authors infuse
organizational and district case studies to drive home their points—a necessary
addition as the book itself asks the reader to reconceptualize ingrained
notions of schooling. Customized
is sure to ruffle feathers—not only does it force readers to
think outside the education-provision box, it asks them to tear apart the sides
and throw them in a shredder. But the conversation it will incite is long


Frederick M. Hess and Bruno V. Manno, eds., Customized
Schooling: Beyond Whole-School Reform
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard Education
Press, 2011).