Dear Diane, The diverse views we get in response to our exchanges is a reminder about why we should not expect one right answer to the question of “why educate?" We need enough consensus to persuade the public that it should be paid for with public dollars, and enough leeway to let many views flourish. In some ways that’s an impossible task, but it’s at least a “direction” I want to keep us struggling for, rather than settling for whoever’s in power in D.C. setting curriculum and assessment for the whole nation! Distributing such powers includes ...

Dear Deborah, Ah, data. A new study from the Center on Education Policy finds that state tests scores have been rising steadily since the passage of NCLB. But the report is based only on state tests, which are notoriously unreliable and even invalid because of the test-prepping that every district is doing. We should have learned by now that when state scores soar, but NAEP scores don’t, trust NAEP. It is the audit test. No one can practice for NAEP. I am sure that you, like me, have been inundated with reports about how charter schools will save American ...

Dear Diane, Yes, it seems so obvious to you and me. Using their metrics, the boosters of mayoral control can hardly point to any trend that supports their claims. On NAEP data, the two biggie mayoral control cities show no change, and on graduation data, NYC shows some improvement, but Chicago shows none, even if we go by the city's data. If we look at the data in the recent RAND study, it confirms many others—charter schools do no better re. test scores than their comparable neighborhood schools—some better, some worse. The data on merit pay don’t ...

Dear Deborah, If you recall, I took some heat from readers when I said some while back that the Obama administration was adopting the same policies as the Bush administration and that Arne Duncan sounds amazingly like Margaret Spellings on issues like accountability and choice. I just read a fascinating description of "Obama's Bipartisan Triumphs" by Matt Miller, who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, one of those Beltway think tanks that sets the tone for federal policy. CAP is especially important because its director John Podesta ran the Obama transition. Miller writes: "In Republicans' eyes, ...

Dear Diane, Thanks for being there at the venerable old Julia Richman high school building last week, Diane. So many old friends, some new ones, and a nice net profit for FairTest—the little David facing the Harcourts, McGraws, ETS's, et al Goliaths that sponsored the event. Actually, Diane, FairTest is not anti-test, but skeptical about the instruments used for mass standardized testing and, above all, the uses to which they are put. The same publishers that once warned us against any test prep, other than the practice tests they sent out with the real test, now probably make as much...

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