Dear Deb, Don't worry about our agreeing too much! If we are really going to "bridge differences," then we should constantly seek common ground. I like small schools, but I also like middle-size schools. About ten years ago, Valerie Lee of the University of Michigan did a study in which she asked what was the ideal size for a high school, and she concluded that the ideal school was small enough for kids to be known by the teachers, but large enough to mount a reasonable curriculum. The best size for a high school, she decided, based on a review ...


Dear Diane, We better be careful, or we'll too often think alike! In 1989 I wrote an op-ed for The New York Times entitled "Small is Sensible." I love big cities, I began, but not big schools. I still feel the same way—about both. "Critics worry," says a NY Times editorial (July 6th) that the "new small schools...handpick the most desirable and most easily educated students". True or false? "It may be true", the editorial continues. Still, "given the improvement," full speed ahead. Duh? The same issue is arising now in Boston. It worries me—because not only...


Dear Deb, You raise important questions about the trustworthiness of the data that government agencies release. I would hope that every math course, not just advanced courses, would teach students how numbers can be interpreted in different ways for different purposes. I have always thought that one of the truly impressive qualities of athletics was the honesty of the numbers. If the score at the end of nine innings in a baseball game is 9-2, you know who won the game. In a basketball game, the basket is set at a certain height, and the ball has to enter the ...


Dear Diane, The disturbing comments in your final paragraph deserve a wide audience. It is always hard to know when we are being alarmists, and when we are understating a dangerous trend. Maybe schools were once less worrisome because they simply played a much smaller role in our lives and life itself was a teacher of common sense. But all roads lead to Rome, so while it may appear that I'm switching subjects, Diane, it leads to the same place. I read the story a few weeks ago about Carol and Joe Reich's struggle to retain control over the public ...


Dear Deb, The promise of this blog “Bridging Differences” was that (is that?) we would acknowledge our disagreements and from time to time discover issues where we agree. We aim to keep that promise! This is an issue—spotting the nonsense and naming it—where we are on the same page. A few days ago, I watched a movie made in the 1930s, in which there was a crusading newspaper editor. In his office was a sampler that said, “Tell the truth.” These days, we recognize that the “truth” may be elusive, and we may not even agree on how to...


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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