Dear Deborah, Did you see Newsweek last week? What a stunning and uninformed attack on teachers and teachers' unions. The cover of the magazine told the story: The Key to Saving American Education, by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert. It was printed on a classroom blackboard. In the background, on the same blackboard, was the handwritten phrase, repeated again and again, "We must fire bad teachers." The story itself is a parody of a right-wing rant. It seems that the nation's classrooms are overrun with "bad teachers," pedophiles, "weak" teachers, ineffective teachers, dumb teachers, and others who remain in the ...


Dear Diane, I'm back from a trip to Indiana and Ohio. You've brought the teachers and administrators I met great joy and hope. They asked me to say thanks. The level of fear out there in the field is enormous. Of course, many of your critics will be delighted to hear this. They see security as the enemy of progress—and test scores. The more fearful teachers are, the harder it's assumed they will work to keep their jobs, and the more kids will learn. They assumed you were very brave to be so forthright. I told them that, whether...


Dear Deborah, This has been an amazing week. The book came out on March 2 and immediately was the best-selling education policy book on Amazon.com. Its wonderful reception is due not to any unusual talent or insight of my own, but to the fact that what I am saying resonates with teachers, administrators, and all who are engaged in the daily work of public education. Teachers feel, with justification, that they are being scapegoated and blamed whenever test scores don't go up. My book appeared at a time when there was only one narrative about school reform, which privileged ...


Dear Diane, They say the best reason for studying history is that it helps you see that the future is still a work in progress. And your new book—The Death and Life of the Great American School System—is an important step toward moving forward. Your clarity and quiet passion, I'm happy to say, are now not directed at me! The title is brilliant. My first reaction was that, like the Jane Jacobs-titled classic on the American city, it suggests a golden past. (The cover helps.) But public (and private) education never had such a past. And, it's not...


Dear Deborah, At last! Over the course of our three years of blogging together, I have been writing a book, as you know. Today is publication day for The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. The title is a conscious echo of Jane Jacobs' important book about urban planning. You know the feeling. It is both exhilarating and scary, because now the book must stand on its own and face readers and reviewers. In the book, I trace my evolution from conservative advocate of charters, merit pay, and accountability to ...


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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