Dear Deborah, In my new book, coming out in early March,* I devote a chapter to examining the research about choice from a historical perspective. Leave aside vouchers for now, and let's look at charters, which are all the rage among the movers and shakers, including President Obama, Secretary Duncan, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and business leaders. The charter idea was born in 1988, when two men—unknown to one another—converged on the idea. One was an education professor in Massachusetts named Ray Budde. The other was Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers....


Dear Diane, Do we hope our children leave school placing truth above money? Good ideas over "the Race to the Top"? Or, that they just "follow the money"? Recently, Laura Pappano wrote in The New York Times about a new world of jobs in education: "...new education leadership jobs: running charter schools, directing turnarounds of troubled schools and founding nonprofits with creative answers to education challenges. Such work demands educators who are more M.B.A./policy-wonk than Mr. Chips, which is why universities are unveiling degree programs that pull professors from schools of education, business and public policy... While ...


Editor's note: Bridging Differences returns today after a two-week holiday break. Dear Deborah, I want to wish you and our readers—and most especially our editors at Education Week!—a happy, healthy New Year. The times are challenging indeed, and all of us should try to be as kind as possible to others and do whatever we can to bring about a world where kindness and civility are the norm. As I see it, our mission this year will be to keep a close watch on the "reforms" that are now in vogue. In light of the nearly $5 billion...


Editor's note: Bridging Differences begins a well-deserved holiday break today. Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier will return to their blog on Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2010. See you in the new year!...


Dear Diane, Time to rest up and maybe start 2010 in a more hopeful mood. I just put down an article in The New Yorker by Atul Gawande entitled "Testing, Testing." But it's not about schooling, but medical tests. The author is a doctor at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and grew up in Athens County, Ohio (his parents were doctors, not farmers). He uses his experience and inquiring mind to think about the advantages of not having a master plan for curing our ills. He describes the history of the government's role in agricultural reforms and suggests that maybe ...


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