Dear Deborah, It is time to appraise the first year of the Obama administration and its impact on American education. I met with Arne Duncan in October, and I liked him very much. He is a very likeable guy. But I strongly disagree with his priorities. In a recent Education Week article about Duncan, I was quoted as giving him an A for effectiveness, and a D- for bad ideas. Let me explain. Duncan's "Race to the Top" competition has had an enormous effect on American education. He has $4.3 billion to hand out, without any congressional authorization or ...


Building Bridges was recently named one of the best education blogs for 2010 by Washington Post columnist Jay Mathews. Mathews, who is also a member of the Editorial Projects in Education board, and fellow Post blogger Valerie Strauss selected a wide range of blogs for the honor. Read all about Bridging Differences and the other best blogs here....


Dear Diane, Deciding how to measure achievement depends on first defining it. The equating of "performance" and "achievement" with whatever the ELA and math tests tell us puts us in rather an awkward position—and I include in that my colleagues and friends in the AFT and NEA. Randi Weingarten's remarks got badly reported by the press, but the actual speech makes it easier to do so than was necessary. Nowhere does it clearly state that the AFT does not accept test scores as evidence of good teaching—thus the misleading headlines. But your argument, Diane, makes a similar ...


Dear Deborah, I am sure you were as surprised as I was to read the headlines in the newspapers saying that Randi Weingarten proposed that teachers should be evaluated by their students' test scores. This is a contentious issue. In New York, at Randi's urging, the state legislature passed a law preventing districts from doing exactly this. Now, to qualify for the so-called Race to the Top, the state must roll back this legislation. We know the downside of evaluating teachers by student scores. It is neither a fair nor an accurate way to judge teachers, and it produces unintended ...


Dear Diane, Thanks you for that deft summary on charters! Once we forget the public purposes of education, it's easier and easier to forget about the defects of the marketplace as a way to address the common good. One of the concerns raised about the schools I founded was that such schools bred selectivity—even unintended cherry-picking on some subtle basis. At the time I argued that tracking within large neighborhood schools did much the same, and usually far less fairly. We need, I contended, to tackle issues of tracking under both approaches. The major concern I had was with...


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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