Editor's Note: Bridging Differences begins its annual summer break after Deborah Meier's upcoming post on Thursday. The blog will return in September. Dear Deborah, This is my last blog until the fall. Time to take a break and recharge our batteries or whatever it is that keeps us going. I have two parting thoughts before I head for the beach and the garden. First, I want to recommend a fascinating book. It is Michael Edwards' Small Change: Why Business Won't Save the World. Edwards led the Ford Foundation's program on governance and civil society. His book analyzes efforts by philanthro-capitalists ...


Dear Diane, Every day, some new, unexpected voice pipes up confirming views on the quality of the tests in use to judge our children, their teachers, and their schools. The much-vaunted New York Regents math exams turn out to be shockingly shabby, etc. Ditto for new reports on the financial scandals taking place under mayoral control—hardly surprising. Ditto for the number of financial and other scandals in charter schools. When we proposed a highly decentralized experimental zone in 1992 (with money from the Annenberg Foundation) there were two things we said should not be dropped: our obligations to the ...


Yet I don't see how it is possible to improve education while neglecting everything but basic skills. Even privately managed charter schools are affected negatively by high-stakes testing; to claim ever-rising test scores, they are prompted to avoid low-performing students, thus bypassing the very students that charters were originally intended to serve.


Dear Diane. I've been mulling over the well-organized attack on the concept of seniority and tenure. The roots of both have long been forgotten. Seniority as a concept has been fundamental implicitly, if not explicitly, to most societies. Tenure was added for public service and academia, because politics was perceived as a threat to public service workers, especially "mind-workers." This preceded teachers' unions and exists in states without unions! Even with tenure, teachers are vulnerable, especially troublemakers. But some might argue that this is a good reason to support merit pay since principals will have to base their decisions on ...


Dear Deborah, The evidence continues to accumulate that our "accountability" policies are a great fraud and hoax, but our elected officials and policymakers remain completely oblivious to the harm caused by the policies they mandate. Over the past several years, efforts to "hold teachers accountable" and "hold schools accountable" have produced perverse consequences. Instead of better education, we are getting cheating scandals, teaching to bad tests, a narrowed curriculum, lowered standards, and gaming of the system. Even if it produces higher test scores (of dubious validity), high-stakes accountability does not produce better education. In their eagerness to show "results," states ...


The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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