Fordham's Organizational Values

Both in how we function and how we think about improving educational outcomes, here are the values we honor—and strive to live by every day.

We believe in…

Which means at Fordham…

Which means for education…


We strive for excellence in all of our products and activities—research studies, blog posts, events, podcasts, The Education Gadfly, charter authorizing, advocacy, and more. For us, this means a dedication to quality, to rigorous thinking, to compelling, clear and clear-headed writing, and to exceptional creativity.

We believe that education is not a zero-sum game. We want schools that aim for excellence for all students at all achievement levels and from all backgrounds. We are not just concerned with combating failure; mediocrity must also be challenged. And we view the purpose of public schooling holistically. Schools should produce excellent scholars, but also patriotic citizens.

Empowering people on the front lines

We seek capable self-starters who are intrinsically motivated to do great work and who thrive with autonomy. We give our staff significant responsibility and encourage and support them to continuously develop their skills.

We strive to vest parents and educators with significant authority and high-quality information; we see much wisdom in “subsidiarity”— the doctrine that important matters ought to be handled by the competent authority that’s closest to the action, which in education usually means parents, teachers, and schools. At the same time, we recognize the benefits of scale in such realms as standards and assessments.


Though we hold strong convictions (every child deserves high expectations; parental choice is a fundamental right), we reject dogma and rigid, lazy policy positions; we do not discourage staff from disagreeing in public as well as private with one another and with colleagues at like-minded organizations; and we relish our ability to hone and update our thinking based upon new experience and evidence. We are courageous and tell it as we see it.

Our education system must be willing to try new approaches, while guarding against faddism; policy and practice should be guided by rigorous evidence of what is and isn’t working as well as a willingness to try things that may work better.

A passion for solutions

We expect our team to find ways to constantly make Fordham better and to tackle problems efficiently when they arise. Our research, commentary, and Ohio advocacy offer clear, compelling solutions to the challenges at hand.

Education reform is a work in progress; we must be willing to learn from experience and honest evaluations and not be afraid to jettison dysfunctional practices or to tinker our way toward better schools and systems.

Hard work

We pride ourselves on our productivity and commitment to quality, but this stems only from relentless effort. As a mission-driven organization and as dedicated staff members, we juggle multiple responsibilities and work until the job is done.

One reason that achievement in the U.S. lags behind that of other leading countries is that we don’t ask our children to work as hard. Sustained effort is essential, especially as they get older, and we should expect—and demand—it from students and educators alike.

Humility and humor

Though our mission is serious, we try not to take ourselves too seriously and we never stop learning. We’re not afraid to question the conventional wisdom or our past positions in public. We don’t pretend to have all of the answers, and we highlight good ideas wherever they are found. We also have fun, because life is too short to do otherwise—and the education sector is often too solemn.

None of us has all the answers, and nobody is sure how to create excellent schools at scale. Thus, we should avoid hubris and embrace a willingness to innovate, learn, course correct, share our insights, admit failure, and poke fun at folly.