Dear Deborah, So much is happening and I am afraid that I jumped ahead and wrote a blog entry on the upheavals in NYC before I saw your post about teaching reading. Here is the bottom line on the federal Reading First program. No one in the federal government, not the Department of Education, not the Congress, tells teachers how to teach reading. Any teacher can use any program or method they prefer without federal dictates or interference. Nothing in the law says otherwise. The Reading First program is a part of No Child Left Behind that got bipartisan support. ...

Dear Diane, Glad to hear you are of two minds about this “scientifically-proven” stuff that the Bush administration is so fond of touting when it comes to K-12 schooling. To pursue the point a bit. Why do I think the Bush Administration claim to stand for science when it comes to teaching reading to be nonsense? Since being well educated rests, I’d argue, on respect for credible evidence and learning from the past it would seem I’d count Bush as an ally. (I would perhaps chuckle at the irony that the Bushites require obedience to "scientific evidence" when ...

Dear Deborah, You suggest at the end of your Feb. 28 entry that there may be no such thing as "scientifically-based" reading methods. I am of two minds about this. I would like to think that education research has value; that if a large number of studies consistently validate that one approach gets better results than another, then this is a finding that has some utility to others. That's the way research works in other fields, so why not education? So is education research capable of reaching "scientific" conclusions or not? The case of education may be special, in that ...

Dear Diane, I wish I had been there at the rally for Public Education. But I did hear on my way to Boston, that Klein/Bloomberg had appointed a Parent Engagement person as a response. They miss the point. This isn’t a PR problem. And, as you aptly note, hiring the opposition doesn’t always work to one’s advantage. I’ve got my fingers crossed. We’re inclined to forget that democracy was invented as a response to the demand for accountability. For, of and by “the people” is a statement about accountability. It’s a radical idea—that...

Deb, I must add an important footnote about my last blog (The Power Struggle in New York City). I mentioned how hard it is to find achievement data on the New York State Education Department website. I must explain how I found the data and give credit where it is due. I spent hours—literally hours—going to every part of the website associated with assessments and accountability, with English language arts and mathematics, with K-12 education, and I could not find the achievement data. In my utter frustration, I began emailing people that I thought should know. No one could...

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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