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September 09, 2009

The Start of an Interesting and Dangerous School Year

Editor's Note: Bridging Differences returns today from its summer hiatus. The blog will resume its regular Tuesday-Thursday publishing schedule next week. Dear Deborah, School is open, and it is time to talk! What a busy summer for all of us who care about education. I had a good summer, finis...

July 02, 2009

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

Dear Diane, I don’t even trust myself to write standards (of the sort that can be specs for tests) for one school, one district, one state—much less the whole nation! I’m bound to have a better idea a week later. And, given those who are considered the experts these days on matters of sc...

June 18, 2009

Charters, Performance Pay, & Serious Trade-Offs

Dear Diane, Yes, it seems so obvious to you and me. Using their metrics, the boosters of mayoral control can hardly point to any trend that supports their claims. On NAEP data, the two biggie mayoral control cities show no change, and on graduation data, NYC shows some improvement, but Chicago show...

June 04, 2009

Test Results Are Not a Good Stand-In for Achievement

Dear Diane, You are right. We agree on the civil rights movement’s history. Schools were never the primary focus—but one of many interconnected ones. The connection between schooling and the economy interests me—but for different reasons than the usual PR-linkage (you’ll make mor...

May 12, 2009

What 'The Harlem Miracle' Really Teaches

Dear Deborah, The columnists at The New York Times are deeply engaged in school reform these days. First Nicholas Kristof discovered that the key to high achievement is measuring student test score gains, then paying more to the teachers whose students gained the most. Then Thomas Friedman discove...

March 24, 2009

Will Public Education Survive the Embrace of Big Money?

Dear Deborah, My guess is that we will have a long time, not months, but years, to discuss national standards and a national curriculum. The question won’t go away. It is one of the items on Secretary Duncan’s “to-do” list. In 1995, I wrote a book on the subject and predicted that we would ...

March 19, 2009

The Power of Big Money & Big State Over Knowledge

Dear Diane, But let’s not postpone our discussion about national standards for too long. It mostly boils down to my fear about official ideologies and centralized power over ideas. Plus, our old disagreement about intellectual “neutrality” and objectivity. I found your analysis of Obama’...

March 17, 2009

President Obama’s Agenda

Dear Deborah, I will get back to you on another day about the strengths and dangers of a national curriculum. Today I want to initiate a conversation with you about President Obama’s education program. We previously discussed Secretary Arne Duncan's policy views, which frankly sounded identical...

September 16, 2008

The New Conventional Wisdom?

Dear Deborah, You raise important questions about the role of trust and community in schooling. Those issues should be front and center as part of the discussion of the future of public education. We should discuss further whether trust and community are advanced by preserving and strengthening nei...

June 12, 2008

Seeing Like a State

Dear Diane, You've put it neatly—whose expertise is running the show? Except for one flaw. How come, since there are more teachers than policymakers, we give up and not them? There are lots of reasons, of course, including the fact that teachers (and parents) tend not—as we noted onc...

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