Dear Deborah, I am still somewhat unsure about the difference between your small schools and the small schools created by various school districts, or your small schools and the charter schools that are popping up in many districts. I just read in the LA Daily News that Antonio Villaraigosa, the mayor of Los Angeles, has asked voters to approve a new multi-billion-dollar bond issue to support new charter schools and "small learning communities." Not long ago, the Broad Foundation (and Eli Broad himself) committed $23 million to create many new charter schools in Los Angeles. How will these schools differ ...

Dear Diane, Every few days I have a new object for “the worst ever” prize. Our new American-as-apple-pie identification with torture is the one that keeps me up at night. It seems so unbelievable that it has gone on for so long, so publicly, and is so unstoppable. The gulag of our time—here in America. But in answer to your query, the collapse of the Annenberg Challenge in 1995 remains painful for me to remember and too long to tell well. ("In Schools We Trust" has a chapter on it and other similar efforts.) I was just recently going...

Dear Deborah, Sometimes, like you, I start feeling down about the direction of our world today. The soaring price of gasoline is making life harder for everyone; millions of people are finding that it puts an intolerable strain on their budget for food, shelter, and other basic necessities. Meanwhile we are exporting billions of dollars to undemocratic regimes around the world. Add to those real and present economic burdens the ongoing threat of climate changes, and we do confront terrible challenges and crises. I must say, I also worry about the growing tensions in the Middle East. The leader of ...

Dear Diane, We’re agreed about Summerhill, sort of... But I’m also attracted to it, and delighted by those children engrossed in their hammering. Incidentally, the kids turned out well. It appeals to the anarchist/libertarian in me. But then I’m also a democratic socialist, a liberal, a traditionalist and a communitarian! These labels describe people who I hope can all live forever together on the same planet without doing each other too much harm. Somehow they live together in me, so, perhaps. If we start another war in Iran, my hopes may have to be postponed a ...

Dear Deborah, You and I do travel in different circles! I have never been to a Summerhillian conference and don’t expect that I ever will be. Somewhere in the core of my being is a staunch resistance to A.S. Neill’s libertarianism as it relates to children. As a parent and as someone who cares deeply about elevating the state of our civilization, I rebel against the idea of letting children decide whether they feel like learning today or any day. I believe that adults must take responsibility for children’s well-being, for their physical and intellectual growth, ...

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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