Dear Diane, Perhaps it's time to change the subject. Moving on does not mean we both won't have another "last word" to get in on Reading First and literacy. (It's hard for me to resist just one or two more rejoinders.) Also the disagreement re what international tests do and don't tell us—as well as testing itself—we can pass over for the moment, but must get back to. But your comments about "mandates" suggest a place to take off in another direction, even before we get to the "Tough Choices, Tough Times" report as you suggest in your ...

Dear Deborah, I am glad to see that our discussion of Reading First is getting a lot of reaction, and quite a number of interesting and well-informed responses. I don't like mandates any more than you do, but I also think it is important to learn from experience and even, when it is cumulative, to learn from research. I think it would be irresponsible, perhaps anti-intellectual, to wave away the very extensive research that has been conducted over many years about reading. The research in "Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children," for example, should not be lightly dismissed. Surely there ...

Dear Diane, You're right, Reading First is not mandatory. I just visited a school in Oakland that turned down being part of a Reading First initiative because they thought it wrong-headed. I wish others were as professionally responsible. But the published correspondence between the leaders of Reading First demonstrates with what glee and persistence they went about the task of twisting arms—especially in Districts with needy kids under threat of NCLB sanctions. Diane, if the next administration chose to use the same pressure on behalf of Balanced Literacy (as California once did re whole-language—to my dismay at the time),...

Dear Deb, I don’t think you understand how the Reading First program works. No state or district is compelled by federal mandates to use the reading methods specified by the Reading First program. No state is required to apply for RF funding. No district is required to accept RF funding. The Reading First dollars are available only to states and districts that apply for them. Reading First is a competitive grant program. For example, in New York State, the RF money went only to districts that sought the money and then only for a limited number of schools that ...

Dear Diane, We were both irritated by Chancellor Klein's effort to mandate that all teachers in NYC use the Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop Method. So it surprised me that you were sympathetic to the Federal government for doing the same re Reading First. I sometimes think it may stem from where we see ourselves in the pecking order of power—with me always imagining myself in the position of the receiver not deliverer of orders. But the many unexpected ways intelligent people—including 5 year olds—make sense of the same world is why I love being a teacher! So...

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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