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...


Dear Diane, As I was watching the Democratic party presidential wanna-be's the other night, I thought about our misuse of language. Was that a "debate"? But worse, what does it mean to ask serious potential presidents to talk about important matters—in 30 seconds? So, in answer to: why educate? So that someday we might have a public that would be embarrassed to watch such nonsense and a media that knew better. I turned off the TV at last and started reading my cousin Judith Larner Lowry's book on restoration gardening in California—"The Landscaping Ideas of Jays". After reading...


Dear Deb, Now that our mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is readying himself as a potential candidate for the Presidency, it is clear that education will be one of his signature issues. Sadly, he knows no more about education today than he did when he became mayor in 2001, based on his latest plan to pay poor kids to get higher test scores. That strategy seems to me to be an abject admission of cluelessness: When you don't know anything about teaching or curriculum, then just pay for results. I understand your frustration about the historical amnesia that you encountered. It seems ...


Dear Diane, I was talking with a young man yesterday who is working at a new NYC high schools for students who have dropped out or are about to. He's very enthusiastic about the work and the school. He thinks Bloomberg and Company invented such schools, and that his is the first. Historical amnesia is, alas, widespread. In a piece on Bloomberg’s ambitions for the Presidency and another on the High School of International Business and Finance, NY Times reporter Sara Rimer suggests that Bloomberg/Klein are the first to worry about how to educate the kids at the ...


Dear Deb, Sometimes I feel that we are having a discussion that is way too theoretical, while the world of American education is moving hard and fast in completely different directions. You may be comfortable with a school where the kids spend four years on biology, or four years (or is it one year?) taking apart cars and remaining ignorant of Shakespeare. It's a free country, and there are surely teachers and even principals who agree with you. But this is not the policy debate in Washington or the state capitals, it will not be part of the reauthorization of ...


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