Marc Porter Magee Ph.D is the CEO and founder of 50CAN: The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

I had the opportunity last week to write three guest posts on “Straight Up” for AEI’s Rick Hess while he’s on sabbatical. My contributions focused on Rick’s book, Cage-Busting Leadership, and what we can learn from applying this perspective to the world of policy and advocacy:

  • The Promise and Peril of Cage Busting. We should draw inspiration from people who have the uncommon ability to bend systems to their will. But we should not let their success fool us into thinking our systems aren’t truly broken. In this entry, I make the case that reforming policy isn’t easy, but it’s the only path that will ensure lasting change.
  • Three Principles for Being a Cage-Busting Advocate. Cage-busting school leaders can’t change systems alone. But they have a lot to teach us, as advocates, about achieving great results. In this entry, I highlight three of my favorite cage-busting lessons from Rick’s book.
  • What Education Policy Can and Can’t Do. As Rick notes in his book, it’s hard work to get education policy right. But it’s not impossible if we recognize what education policy can and can’t do. In this entry, I recommend some ways to do our work smarter.

I hope you’ll take some time to read my posts and then share your thoughts in the comments, or by emailing me directly at



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