Thursday, September 19, 2013


Phillips Academy

180 Main Street, Andover, Massachusetts 01810-4161

                                                 January 19, 1998

Mr. William Fitzhugh
Editor & Publisher
The Concord Review
Concord, Massachusetts 01742

Dear Mr. Fitzhugh,

    Congratulations on your Kidger Award from the New England History Teachers Association. The Concord Review has made an extraordinary contribution to secondary school students and teachers and to the craft of historical writing. The Review not only recognizes the outstanding historical research and writing of 15-18-year-olds, but it is truly a monument to one man’s imagination and tenacity. You have brought great professional skill and judgment as the publisher and editor. The layout of the journal is as good as any professional journal.

    I use it as the lead-in to our spring term U.S. History research papers here at Phillips Academy. We begin the process on February 1 and the students hand in their papers in mid-May, with the best going to outside judges for prizes. First, the students read articles from The Concord Review to understand what they are capable of doing. Then we go through the multiple steps, with due dates along the way: select topics, acquire the preliminary bibliographies, pass in note cards, develop a thesis and an outline, hand in a “final bibliography,” then a rough draft, and, finally, the submission of the final paper.

    When Mike Gottesman found that his paper on the 1952 Republican Presidential primary contest between Senator Robert Taft and General Dwight Eisenhower was to be published in this winter’s Review, Mike’s world was complete. Our weekly newspaper, The Phillipian, did a front-page story on his accomplishment and recognition.

    Thank you for your dedication and unrelenting effort to keep The Concord Review going.

                            Sincerely yours,
                            Thomas T. Lyons
                            Instructor in History

“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007;
Varsity Academics®


Thursday, September 5, 2013

MAJOR PLAYERS; Houston, Texas
The Report Card


Will Fitzhugh
The Concord Review
30 August 2013

Who are the Most Important Players in U.S. education debates, and in our schools? Well, let’s see—there are EduPundits, legislators, governors, consultants, professional developers, publishers, the Department of Education, foundations, journalists, state commissioners of education, superintendents, principals, teachers, and who else? Oh, students! you think education has something to do with them? No one else does. And if students do have a part to play in their own education and they are not doing it, and this has perhaps some sort of impact on their academic achievement, what can be done about it? They can’t be fired, except by charter schools, and neither can their parents. So let’s not think about them, or their work.

In addition, most students have been allowed to believe, and the EdWorld agrees with them, that education is something teachers are responsible for delivering to them, whether they do any actual academic work or not. As to the academic work they actually are currently doing, Indiana University has found that 42% of high school students now do less than one hour of written homework in a week.

Because student responsibility for academic work is not part of our ideas about education, students can feel free to, as the Kaiser Foundation reports they now do, spend at least 53 hours each week with electronic entertainment media. (That would be 53 times as many hours as lots of our high school students now spend on homework each week.)

Of course all the current Major Players have something to say and something to do about education, and about students
academic achievement, but as long as, for whatever complex of reasons, we continue to ignore student participation in and responsibility for their own educational achievement, we are colluding in some very large, very tragic, and very sad, joke.

Try to imagine stories and commentaries on Major League Baseball which completely ignored the activities of the players, and you can see what a monstrous mistake it is for so many influential people in the education debates to pay no attention to whether: A) we are asking our students to do any serious academic work, and B) they are actually doing any.

Banishing students from our discussions about the Major Players in education may satisfy some set of needs for our EduPundits and others, but it is a sad and quite clearly doomed misdirection of all efforts to understand ways to improve student academic achievement in this country.