Dear Diane, "We have no final answers. We keep negotiating." I may put it on my bumper-sticker. RDT expressed a similar concern to yours on our Blog: the risk of Balkanization that comes with choice. But that's where we are now. Schools are more than ever segregated by race and class, and even religiosity and ethnicity. Largely by geography plus private and selective school choice. Even when parents send their kids to diverse schools, there is segregation within the schools. Kids today are largely educated only in the company of others like themselves. Do I like this? No. I think ...

Dear Deborah, I love democracy too. Can’t imagine any other system under which I would want to live. I too grew up in the era when Communism and fascism were horrible realities, not theories. Even in a democracy, there are mandates that we must all accept. When you write “mandates,” I think “laws.” The laws are passed by democratically elected bodies, and like them or not, we live with them. Thinking about the power of self-governance and schools leads me to think about some situations where I am glad that there are democratic checks and balances on local preferences. ...

Dear Diane, Ah, mandates. My flirtation with libertarianism is deep-seated and may be related to having grown up at a time when two absolutes—fascism and communism—were at their heights. Both dismissed the sloppy bourgeois democracies with their tepid ideals. I knew the Left-side of this better than the Fascist one, and found myself on occasion uneasy about claims that one had to sacrifice democracy for higher ends—albeit temporarily. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. The masses have been brain-washed and until we can clear their heads of foolishness "we" must rule in their place....

Dear Deborah, One of the great things about this ongoing conversation called blogging is that you never cease to surprise me. I told our blogmaster Mary-Ellen Deily at Education Week that the blog should be retitled "Never the Last Word." It is that love of intellectual mano-a-mano that keeps us energized. I hope we never lose it. In your last post, you restate your objection to mandates, then shift into a defense of teachers' unions. I expect that the anti-union people will jump all over the opening that you created for them to rant against mandatory dues payments by teachers ...

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 ...

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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