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...


Dear Diane, Today (Thursday) I hope to appear at the New York state hearings on NYC’s school governance system. Last week I spent a few days in D.C. listening to my colleagues discuss dropout rates at a congressional briefing. It was organized by the Alliance for Excellence and the Forum for Education and Democracy. Common themes kept arising, along the lines of your last letter and mine. By the way, I’m happy to learn that the mayor’s plan for NYC was misstated in The New York Times. Five to 7-year-olds will be summed up and compared ...


Dear Deborah, You raise important questions about the role of trust and community in schooling. Those issues should be front and center as part of the discussion of the future of public education. We should discuss further whether trust and community are advanced by preserving and strengthening neighborhood schools or by encouraging the growth of choice schools, by charters and vouchers. Certainly, a case can be made for both routes. The neighborhood school has always been an important center of community. It brings together people from disparate walks of life who are neighbors and gives them a place in which ...


Dear Diane, I'm not entirely ducking it—just partly. I'm also getting at it in a circuitous way! Of course, at heart, I am struggling to understand the American "people." I know I am hopelessly out of the loop, although I keep circling around for common threads. The enthusiasm for Sarah Palin is a case in point. How can I simultaneously want to keep more, not less, power in the hands of the same public that might elect a pair like McCain/Palin? And, they aren't by any means the worst we might do. I'll feel better about the public...


Dear Deborah, I read your “advice to the next president” with interest. It would be wonderful if our next president could figure out how to ensure that “schools for the poor…look and feel like the schools the wealthiest send their kids to”? Let’s see, first he would propose a school construction fund to modernize school facilities. Then he might propose class-size reduction to the level that is typical at schools like Phillips Andover or Exeter (12 students per class?). And then there is the list of social programs, like good health care and nutrition. This tracks fairly well ...


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