Dear Diane, I saw some wonderful little schools in California last week and return feeling more optimistic about the survival of the kind of schooling I treasure. But I also spoke to many beleaguered educators who, as you noted, are feeling the brunt of the "de-formers" and the media barrage against teachers. At stake is the very idea of unions, as well as due process, fair play, seniority, and, incidentally, the idea that we need teachers who make this their career. I like your "Top 10" list—except I'd modify the part about how we evaluate teachers to make it more...

Dear Deborah, As I have traveled the country, from Boston to Los Angeles and points in between, I have met thousands of teachers who work in our nation's public schools. The overwhelming mood is one of demoralization, and, in some cases, despair. They thought that President Obama would break free from the test-based accountability of No Child Left Behind, and now they realize that he plans to apply even tougher penalties based on test scores. Many of them know how phony the tests are—even Secretary Arne Duncan has said that the current generation of state tests are bad—yet...

Dear Diane, Reading The New York Times Magazine pieces on medicine is always intriguing. Education and medicine are often compared—in ways that remind me how little our frame for considering teaching is realistic. The other night I heard several very good "educators" on C-SPAN answering questions from the Labor and Education Committee of the Senate. Both the AFT's Randi Weingarten and Michigan State's Deborah Ball were sharp, clear, and convincing. But... They, too, talked about what we can learn from other professions, focusing primarily on the preparation that law and medicine offer prospective candidates. Yes, and we can learn...

Dear Deborah, You and I are old enough to remember heated debates about what democracy in education means. Some argued that it had to do with the governance of education, with the ability of the public to participate in decisions affecting their children. Some maintained that it had to do with the provision of a high-quality education in every school, so that the education available to those with the least resources was as good as the education available to those with the most resources. There were many other definitions, but this much is clear: The argument did not center on ...

Dear Diane, That was an amazing and surprising find re. Milwaukee charters. I thought that at the very least they'd get the advantage of being in a more diverse (integrated) setting with more middle-class kids and that being chosen (even by lottery) would produce a kind of halo effect. Why it didn't is what should baffle the media. But it doesn't. "What if there were a great debate concerning the nature and future of American society, and only one side showed up? That approximately describes the condition of the US media today," says Ernest Partridge of The Crisis Papers. But ...

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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