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 ...


Dear Diane, I couldn't resist this piece from the Rev. John Thomas of the Chicago Theological Seminary, entitled "It's Not OK to Hate Teachers." When you travel across the country through numerous county seat towns and cities, it's easy to see what was important to those who established those communities. They built—at great personal sacrifice—churches, schools, libraries, and courthouses—public institutions that provided for the general welfare of their communities rather than simply the private mercantile interests of its citizens. Usually these buildings were architecturally grand, dominating the landscape, announcing to all that the spiritual, intellectual,...


Dear Deborah, Over the past few months, I have traveled the country and spoken to thousands of educators—teachers, administrators, and school board members. At the same time, I have kept close tabs on the national discussion about the Obama administration's Race to the Top. I have discovered a strange paradox. With few exceptions, the national media are excited by the Race to the Top, especially the expansion of charter schools, the tough accountability measures directed at teachers, and closing down of "failing" schools. But educators are overwhelmingly disheartened by these same measures. The people who have the closest involvement...


Dear Diane, Alice in Wonderland, I'm told, has now been released as a horror movie. Life imitates art: Nonsense that once amused me is also turning into a horror documentary. The prologue to Michael Lewis' amazing new bookThe Big Short is out of Lewis Carroll too; except it's based on fact. The folks Michael Lewis describes are identical to the ones you now run into at the New York City department of education headquarters--amusingly called Tweed--maybe one rung down in "smarts?" The language nonsense on Wall Street may be more intimidating but it's just as much of a cover up ...


Dear Deborah, This year the federal testing program (the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP) expanded to include 18 urban districts. The testing of urban districts is known as TUDA (or, Trial Urban District Assessment). TUDA was launched in 2002, in response to a request by the Council of the Great City Schools. In 2002, the following districts voluntarily participated in testing a sample of their students in reading in 4th and 8th grades: Atlanta, Chicago, the District of Columbia, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York City. In 2003, both reading and math assessments were administered in 10 cities, ...


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