Dear Deborah, As I watch events across the nation, I have concluded that district leadership today falls into one of two varieties. On one hand is the traditional superintendent, who believes that he is responsible for the schools and students in his care. He visits the schools often and consults frequently with mid-level superintendents to make sure that the schools get the resources they need. When a school is in trouble, he sends in a team of experienced educators to assess its needs and devise a plan to help the staff. If the school continues to struggle, he works harder ...


Dear Diane, Funny you should ask, Diane. Yes, I am still a sort-of supporter of small schools—within the right context. I came across a big, heavy award from 2004 called The Small Schools Award: "In honor of your support, in a bold way and over the long haul of small schools that educate one student at a time." I'm frequently introduced as "the mother/grandmother of small schools." So, why aren't I feeling smug and successful? There are more urban small schools than ever before—even though small often now means 600, not 300. Nearly 20 years ago a group...


Dear Deborah, Last week, the New York City Department of Education pushed through a decision to close 19 high schools. With the encouragement of the "Race to the Top," we will surely see similar closings across the nation, hundreds or perhaps thousands of them. Entrepreneurs cheer when public schools close, as new space opens up for their ventures in philanthropy and profits. It is odd that school leaders feel triumphant when they close schools, as though they were not responsible for them. They enjoy the role of executioner, shirking any responsibility for the schools in their care. Every time a ...


Dear Diane, It was good to read your summary of our plight with my old hometown Chicago, not NYC, as the centerpiece. It's a replay of the scenario under the former Secretary of Education Rod Paige who shipped his "Texas miracle" to the nation under President George W. Bush. The result—NCLB. Only later did we discover that his "success" was based on lies, lies, and more damn lies. The term "best practices" in education always gives me trouble. Normally I wince, but let it pass. So I was delighted when Dr. Jerome Groopman shared the same reaction regarding "best...


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 ...


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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