[Editor's note: After today's entry from Deborah Meier, the Bridging Differences blog takes a summer break. Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch (and their blog) will return to edweek.org in September.] Dear Diane, A good summer read (see below for other ideas): Mis-Measuring Our Lives, Why GDP Doesn't Add Up, by Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi (The New Press, 2010). Sometimes one discovers that ideas from different fields are remarkably in sync with each other. Here are a few quotes from this book that should keep us busy this summer. His bete noir: GDP "Our statistics reflect...the...

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 ...


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