Dear Deborah, I watched with some amusement as the media tried to figure out how to report the latest results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Margaret Spellings said that the results vindicated the success of No Child Left Behind. The story by Sam Dillon of The New York Times reported that the achievement gaps—which the law was designed to eliminate—remained unchanged, and the headline of the story was “’No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap.” So which is it? Were the results heartening or not? I’ll try to parse them here for...


Dear Diane, The good news is that most of the American people haven’t lost their common sense. And, above all, those closest to “the action”—parents, teachers, kids, and their families, plus a majority of those who work closely with schools or are “students” of schooling—haven't. What they have lost is the power to be widely heard. The Education Equality Project et al are doing their best to “brainwash” us into thinking we all agree. If there ever was a time when I appreciate the existence of organized “teacher voices,” it’s the days we’re living through....


Dear Deb, A new report by McKinsey & Co., the management consultants, came out last week, and it is worthy of our attention. The report was released at a press conference in Washington, D.C., by NYC Chancellor Joel Klein and the Reverend Al Sharpton. The McKinsey report acknowledges their "significant input," along with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Center for American Progress, and others. At the press conference, according to the story in The New York Times, Chancellor Klein “said the study vindicated the idea that the root cause of test-score disparities was ...


Dear Diane, Your Tuesday column set out good reasons for rejecting standardized testing to reward teachers. I sent a letter home to parents every year on the 10 factors that influenced their child's reading scores. I'll send it to you one day soon—it still applies. Incidentally, some readers may not realize that the high-scoring nations that use standardized tests, if at all, use a different kind than those you were describing. They often consist of written and oral cross-examination, with grades determined by well-qualified judges. (The international scores we read about, readers should realize, are the results of low-stakes...


Dear Deborah, Over time we have developed a very solid and smart community of readers who like to argue with us and with each other. That is as it should be. And of course we need to bridge differences—or disagree—with them, too, as we do with each other. So the subject today is merit pay. This is an important topic because it has become clear that President Obama has decided to hang his hat on this idea. It has not yet been explained just what he means by merit pay. Does he mean that teachers should be paid ...


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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