Dear Deborah, You know, I am sure, the old saw about how I knew all the answers when I was 21, and now that I am older, the answers are not so clear. I recall the days when educators lamented that no one paid much attention to the schools. Those days are gone forever. Now every politician, every corporate leader, every college junior, is supposed to have a plan to reform public education in their breast pocket (to paraphrase a line from Ralph Waldo Emerson about a very different reform era). Now we look to the CEO of GE or ...


Dear Diane, You might have been wrong, but then even I am allowed to be wrong . For example, I thought small schools was one reform no one could do harm with. I still am hoping I was 51 percent right. I'm always inclined in favor of steps that increase conversations around common aspirations. It's what makes me a democrat even though democratic institutions are hardly guaranteed to lead where I'm hoping they do. We both imagined charters, like small schools. Places where folks would have to sit down and talk about purposes. I saw them as representing new ideas and ...


Dear Deborah, I think we are in a very strange and disquieting time for public education. "Reforms" are being implemented that will have unforeseen consequences. I was one of the early supporters of charter schools, as a means of establishing more choice within the public system, but as they proliferate I wonder what the end game is, where are we heading? I have not had any beef with those who said that private managers could step in and do a better job with the lowest-performing schools—after all, when schools are not managing to educate the kids, why not try ...


Dear Diane, There are trade-offs. I'm more worried about privatization than I am about bad science teaching—although, and perhaps because, I care a lot about science. So we agree on the ends, if not the means. The reason I care so much about science education is that science is not only a tool for improving our technological capacities, but it's a way of thinking that is essential for all modern day citizens of the world. It's not dogma, even good dogma, although as too often taught today it is hard to distinguish it from dogma or a magic show....


Deb, Where we agree, where we disagree. I think that public choice is a good idea. I have even explored ideas to help Catholic schools survive, perhaps by giving some sort of scholarship for needy kids that may be used at any nonpublic school. I am no constitutional lawyer, but that seems to me not very different from Pell grants. But I do worry about the risk of Balkanization. We used to use that phrase and no one knew what it referred to. The ethnic rivalries and tensions in the Balkans seemed to be ancient history. For decades, the Balkans ...


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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