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Gary Houchens
Bowling Green, KY
I am a former teacher, principal, and district administrator now serving as Professor of Educational Administration in the School of Leadership and Professional Studies at Western Kentucky University and director of the WKU Educational Leadership Doctoral program (Ed.D.). I am active in Kentucky education reform efforts. From 2016-2019 I was a member of the Kentucky Board of Education.
Recent Activity
In my most recent commentary for the Bowling Green Daily News, I offered some unsolicited advice to recent college graduates. While we should celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates, the predictable, upbeat messages of encouragement we often hear during graduation season aren’t sufficient. It’s time for students to hear some... Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at School Leader
The Bowling Green Daily News has asked me to start regularly contributing a op-ed on various public policy issues of state and local interest. My first offering was this recent piece about the visit of Kyle Rittenhouse to Western Kentucky University's campus, which I considered a triumph for free speech.... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at School Leader
Over the years, there have been a handful of books about education I find myself recommending over and over, like E.D. Hirsch's Knowledge Matters and David Didau's What If Everything You Knew About Education Was Wrong. A third at the top of my list is Daisy Christodoulou's 2014 book, Seven... Continue reading
Posted Mar 25, 2024 at School Leader
The opponents of school choice are just getting started as they rev up to convince voters to oppose a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the opportunity to establish policies that assist families in accessing non-public school education options. A recent op-ed in the Louisville Courier Journal shows the lengths... Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2024 at School Leader
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Earlier this week I was honored to join some of America's most prominent conservative education reformers in Phoenix, Arizona at the invitation of the Heritage Foundation. The Conservative Vision of Education conference featured leaders in K-12 and higher education, policy experts, and advocates. I attended in my role as policy... Continue reading
Posted Mar 22, 2024 at School Leader
Serving on the Kentucky Board of Education from 2016-2019 was one of the greatest honors of my professional life. But it was emotionally brutal work, especially when it came to a legally dubious end when Gov. Andy Beshear, on his first day in office, fulfilled a frequent campaign promise and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2024 at School Leader
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Late last year the Imaginative Conservative published my review of David M. Steiner's recent book, A Nation at Thought: Restoring Wisdom in America's Schools. I argued that even though Steiner makes an excellent case for an education system based on classical purposes, I am skeptical that such an approach can... Continue reading
Posted Jan 14, 2024 at School Leader
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Yesterday I posted about my recent speech "A Conservative Reclamation of Education." At least part of that talk was inspired by my reading of Yoram Hazony's 2022 book, Conservatism: A Rediscovery. I wrote about this book for the website Imaginative Conservative back in March 2023. An excerpt: Of course, an... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2024 at School Leader
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I was recently invited to speak to the Northern Kentucky Tea Party on Kentucky's proposed school choice constitutional amendment. My friend and colleague Dr. Thomas Davis, president of Commonwealth Educational Opportunities (where I serve as a policy advisor), gave an update on the current legislative landscape, and then I situated... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2024 at School Leader
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Update, 3/13/2024: The Kentucky General Assembly approved HB 2 in modified form. It will now go to the voters as a ballot initiative in the November election. Many thanks to the hardworking lawmakers who made this possible. Update, 1/27/2024: A second bill proposing a school choice constitutional amendment has been... Continue reading
Posted Jan 11, 2024 at School Leader
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Recently I was contacted by a teacher who had come across a now-decade old blog post I wrote about education author Mike Schmoker and his (hostile) take on differentiated instruction. I argued that, as much as I admired Schmoker's work, I thought he was making a bit of a straw... Continue reading
Posted Nov 14, 2023 at School Leader
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In February this year I became director of the Educational Leadership doctoral program at Western Kentucky University, which forms practicing and aspiring leaders in K-12 schools, higher education, and related fields. One of my immediate goals was to redesign the WKU Ed.D. around the principles and processes of "Improvement Science."... Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2023 at School Leader
This essay was originally published on the website The Chalkboard Review on April 26, 2021. Sometime in 2022 the website was purchased by new owners who, without notifying me, removed all of my published essays. Given that the website operator has failed to respond to my inquiries about this removal,... Continue reading
Posted Jul 29, 2023 at School Leader
This essay was originally published on the website The Chalkboard Review on March 19, 2021. Sometime in 2022 the website was purchased by new owners who, without notifying me, removed all of my published essays. Given that the website operator has failed to respond to my inquiries about this removal,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 16, 2023 at School Leader
This essay was originally published on the website The Chalkboard Review on February 19, 2021. Sometime in 2022 the website was purchased by new owners who, without notifying me, removed all of my published essays. Given that the website operator has failed to respond to my inquiries about this removal,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 10, 2023 at School Leader
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Earlier this week, my friend, mentor, and supervisor, Dr. Marguerita DeSander, director of the School of Leadership and Professional Studies, announced my appointment as new director of the Educational Leadership Doctoral program (EdD) at Western Kentucky University. I consider this a tremendous honor and look forward to serving WKU and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 2, 2023 at School Leader
This essay was originally published on the website The Chalkboard Review on January 20, 2021. Sometime in 2022 the website was purchased by new owners who, without notifying me, removed all of my published essays. Given that the website operator has failed to respond to my inquiries about this removal,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2023 at School Leader
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I was honored to speak at Kentucky's 2023 National School Choice Week event in Frankfort this last Tuesday, January 24. This year we held a press conference highlighting the current status of school choice efforts in Kentucky. I was joined on the stage by EdChoice Kentucky President Andrew Vandiver and... Continue reading
Posted Jan 26, 2023 at School Leader
This essay was originally published on the website The Chalkboard Review on December 8, 2020. Sometime in 2022 the website was purchased by new owners who, without notifying me, removed all of my published essays. Given that the website operator has failed to respond to my inquiries about this removal,... Continue reading
Posted Jan 16, 2023 at School Leader
I've recently joined the team at Missio Dei, a network publication of Catholic writers dedicated to evangelization through the written word. My first two essays were on theological themes. The first was on the Christian conception of love (caritas) and the second explored the resurrection of the dead and why... Continue reading
Posted Nov 3, 2022 at School Leader
In my latest for Commonwealth Educational Opportunities, I argue that the upcoming November election will be the next important chapter of parent empowerment in education. Across Kentucky and across the country conservative candidates are trying to wrest control of local boards of education and challenge the status quo. Read the... Continue reading
Posted Oct 10, 2022 at School Leader
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In the last five years, the number of Kentucky students being educated at home or in private schools has grown by more than 26%, to nearly 100,000 children, representing more than 15% of the state's student body. In a report tracking these trends for EdChoice Kentucky (where I serve on... Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2022 at School Leader
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The 2022 Kentucky General Assembly concluded its work last month. The Republican-dominated legislature made record financial investments long desired by the education establishment, but failed to pass all but the most modest bills that would further empower Kentucky parents with more choices and stronger voices in their children’s education. The... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2022 at School Leader
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The Kentucky legislature has decided to redeem its failure to follow through on its flawed 2017 charter school law by trying again. HB 9 was introduced this week, and if passed as written it will correct a number of important problems with the 2017 law - which never yielded a... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2022 at School Leader