Editor's Note: After this week, Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch begin their annual summer break. Their blog will return in September. Dear Diane, I’m still amazed at how fast the new educational establishment plans to “revolutionize” our schools. I acknowledge that your support for national testing and curriculum is a bit out of line with the train that’s long since left the station, and I suspect you will end up as dismayed as I am. So, too, will many Americans who have not in any way been consulted by their governors or their president. One look at who’s...

Editor's Note: After this week, Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier begin their annual summer break. Their blog will return in September. Dear Deborah, We have had fun these past couple of years exploring our differences and our agreements. It is clear that the point where we diverge most strongly is whether anyone should set common standards or curriculum outside the individual school. And the point where we agree most strongly is on the role that schools should play in advancing our democratic purposes as a society. This past week’s events in New York City have caused me, as well ...

Dear Diane, I don’t even trust myself to write standards (of the sort that can be specs for tests) for one school, one district, one state—much less the whole nation! I’m bound to have a better idea a week later. And, given those who are considered the experts these days on matters of schooling, I cringe at the very idea. I think it would be fair to argue that an institution that is funded by public monies must defend itself on the grounds that it serves, first and foremost, a public purpose—one which by its nature...

Dear Deborah, The current effort to develop national standards in English and math is something to which we will surely pay close attention. I understand that you reject consequential curricular decisions made outside the school, but my view is that “it depends.” That's my view of lots of things. Ideas that sound good in theory may turn out to be even better or worse in practice. If you live long enough, you become a devotee of “it depends.” National standards, in my view, are a good idea, but it all depends on whether they are done well, whether they leave ...

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 ...

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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