Dear Deborah, When Gov. Roy Romer spoke of national standards at our recent debate, I believe he was suggesting the development of national standards and testing on a voluntary basis, starting with about 15 governors working together to derive a common program. He did not say whether he would want “stakes” attached to national testing. In my own version of national standards and testing, I would like to see a system that had zero stakes (like NAEP), one where the federal government or some national entity administered tests, released information to the states, and then left the follow-up (the stakes, ...


Dear Diane, John Dewey spent his life warning us about false dichotomies. One of our readers, I notice, warned fellow readers of our column not to slip into the same trap. I thought of that after watching the Obama/McCain debate: some observers thought Obama was mistaken to remind voters that McCain was often right. I liked that. In face of the Obama/McCain debate, I’ve lost track of ours, Diane! The fun part of our formulaic debate last week in D.C. (at the Fordham Institute) was how hard it was sometimes to tell the “ayes” from the “nays.”...


Dear Deborah, You were a great partner in our debate last week in Washington, where the two of us—accustomed to differing—sparred with former governor of Colorado Roy Romer (who now chairs the group ED in ’08) and Jon Schnur (the founder of New Leaders for New Schools). I think we surprised everyone, perhaps even ourselves, by arguing in opposition to the idea that there should be a larger federal role in education in the future. Our joint position was that the federal government should have a larger role in providing pre-kindergarten, after-school programs, nutrition, and healthcare, but should...


Dear Diane, What a week we’ve been through—full of lessons about accountability as it’s practiced in the world of high finance. NYC’s grading policy is indeed embarrassing, Diane. Had they used test experts—like Daniel Koretz—they might have invented something better. But no single grade, even a smart one, can avoid giving data a bad name. Even in the hands of wise and knowledgeable teachers, summing up an individual kid by an A-F never works well, for many of the same reasons. It’s why schools like ours—CPE, Mission Hill—develop tools ...


Dear Deborah, I heard from a friend who attended the New York state Senate hearing where you testified. He said you were outstanding. Just last week, the New York City Department of Education released its “report cards” for the schools. Every school was assigned a single letter grade from A to F; this was the second year that grades have been released. Fully 80 percent of the city’s schools got an A or a B, and 18 got an F (last year, 50 schools were graded F). Mayor Michael Bloomberg, not surprisingly, said that the large number of A’s...


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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