Dear Diane, If only everyone stopped using the word "achievement" as a synonym for scores on tests. It's a sleight of hand that justifies so much that's gone wrong. We've meanwhile discounted the work of real live children as "soft" data. Having "normal" temperature may be an indicator of health, but when we think it's the definition of health, beware. We wouldn't be so stupid, would we? A high score on a multiple-choice driving test means something different than a road test driving a car. So we prefer the latter if we value safety. Do we value intellectual achievement less? ...


Dear Deborah, The assault on public education and the teaching profession is now in full swing, as states scramble to qualify for the billions of federal funds in President Obama's Race to the Top program. The latest outrage just occurred in Florida, where state legislators passed an extraordinarily stupid piece of legislation. This law abolishes teacher tenure and ties teacher pay to student test scores. In addition, the state will no longer consider either education or experience as factors in teachers' compensation. What teachers earn will depend on their students' test scores. The economists who floated this bad idea, perhaps ...


Dear Diane, Lucid and to the point, Diane. I'll sign on. Once again, we may confront a law that penalizes schools that don't eliminate differential test score outcomes that correlate with race, class, disability, or language spoken at home. (And that pays teachers based on scores, and favors charters, etc.) Higher teacher expectations shall overcome all, and, based on the Central Falls example in R.I., will cost the jobs also of "failing" principals, custodians, aides, and secretaries. To make matters more ludicrous, the tests involved are, it is agreed, grossly inadequate to the task. I can think of one ...


Dear Deborah, The big event of early March was the release of President Obama's plan to revise No Child Left Behind. Although NCLB continues to have its defenders, the Obama administration rightly views it as a "toxic" brand. Perhaps if the Obama team had given more thought to why it became toxic, their own plan would be far better. While the administration has tried to distance itself from NCLB, the assumptions of its proposal continue to be firmly rooted in NCLB's philosophy of "measure and punish." NCLB's overemphasis on basic skills testing was harmful to schools across the nation, its ...


Dear Diane, Newsweek alas is not the only source of misinformation, although its article was especially outrageous. The New York Times in contrast used less inflammatory language in support of NCLB/RTTT under President Bush and now President Obama. In a mere 500 or so words, the Times managed to use both tortured reasoning and inaccurate facts. (1) The opening sentence of the Times editorial is at best half true. (That sentence reads: "The countries that have left the United States behind in math and science education have one thing in common: They offer the same high education standards—often...


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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