Dear Deborah, It is a good idea to explore the separate elements of the federal education agenda, one by one. Merit pay, the first issue you raise, now stands high among the priorities of the Obama administration as it did for the Bush administration and as it has for the Republican Party and business leaders for many years. The idea that teachers should be evaluated in large part by the test scores of their students has achieved a remarkable currency in the past year, because President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan have championed it. You worry that merit pay might ...


Dear Diane, Let's explore, one by one, the separate elements of the federal education agenda, Diane. Are they based on reason and evidence or ignorance and irrationality? (I could have asked myself the same thing about our differences regarding the trade-offs and risks involved in a national curriculum.) Merit pay is high on the list of the new business-oriented reformers and naturally difficult for unions to swallow. For unions, the big issues are above all aimed at providing employees with a fair system that won't place them at the mercy of their bosses when it comes to the basics of ...


Dear Deborah, The elephant in the room is No Child Left Behind. This, as you know, is the latest manifestation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed specifically to help educate disadvantaged children. NCLB was passed by Congress in the fall of 2001 and signed into law in January 2002. At the time, it had the overwhelming support of both parties. Since the law was implemented, beginning (I would assume) in the fall of 2002 or the fall of 2003, it has been the subject of much debate. President George W. Bush claimed it as ...


Dear Diane, On standardized standards: I'm a fan of disagreements and messiness—and maybe that's beyond the call of Reason. But here's a try. If we all agreed on everything, or even came close, democracy would be an inefficient and cumbersome business and a luxury we could ill afford in tough times. Yet getting agreement is no easy matter. Democracy was "invented" to do that—when needed. My default position: leave it to those most affected to settle it. Of course, that doesn't work a lot of times. Sometimes what one individual or group wants requires collaboration, or interferes...


Dear Deborah, I am somewhat crazed and stressed-out today because my book is due to the publisher, with no more edits allowed. So, needless to say, I am focused on meeting that deadline. But since the book deals with the same issues that we discuss every week, it is not as if I have to turn my attention to a totally different subject. Readers of this blog know that I have often tried out ideas here and benefited by hearing their reactions. One issue that we have discussed and should discuss more is the regulations embedded in the Race 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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