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May 13, 2010

Charters & Their Shallow Community Roots

Dear Diane, That was an amazing and surprising find re. Milwaukee charters. I thought that at the very least they'd get the advantage of being in a more diverse (integrated) setting with more middle-class kids and that being chosen (even by lottery) would produce a kind of halo effect. Why it didn'...

May 04, 2010

The Reason for the Phony Consensus About School 'Reform'

Dear Deborah, Your last column was simply terrific! First, I was glad to see your reference to Russ Whitehurst's piece, in which he questioned whether Congress had authorized the Obama administration's Race to the Top. Second, I was heartened by your careful dissection of the phony "consensus" that...

April 29, 2010

When Did This 'Consensus' Form?

Dear Diane, Where are the tea-partiers when I need them? Debate about revising ESEA is truly irrelevant—key changes have been put into place without anyone voting on anything! No single departmental decision has ever been made that so invades what was once considered wholly local powers than ...

April 08, 2010

Until We Take Democracy Seriously...

Dear Diane, Here's an essential question: When trying to get at the truth of things, what role do data play? Most of the time our "habits" take over before we can exercise any form of reflective judgment (which is why John Dewey focused on "habits of mind" as the goal of good schools). Habits are s...

March 23, 2010

Try Again, Secretary Duncan, It's Not Too Late

Dear Deborah, The big event of early March was the release of President Obama's plan to revise No Child Left Behind. Although NCLB continues to have its defenders, the Obama administration rightly views it as a "toxic" brand. Perhaps if the Obama team had given more thought to why it became toxic, ...

March 11, 2010

A Shot in the Arm for Teachers

Dear Diane, I'm back from a trip to Indiana and Ohio. You've brought the teachers and administrators I met great joy and hope. They asked me to say thanks. The level of fear out there in the field is enormous. Of course, many of your critics will be delighted to hear this. They see security as the ...

March 02, 2010

Today Is Publication Day

Dear Deborah, At last! Over the course of our three years of blogging together, I have been writing a book, as you know. Today is publication day for The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education. The title is a conscious echo of Jane Jacob...

February 23, 2010

The Problem With Charters

Dear Deborah, Last week, I warned that the explosive growth of charter schools would lead to financial and political scandals, as greedy entrepreneurs and unprincipled speculators discover the riches ripe for the picking. A reader challenged me, and I offer as the latest (but not the only) evidence...

February 11, 2010

A Climate of False Crisis

Dear Diane, Leisure is an essential ingredient for a successful working democracy. We need time to think and unbundle some of the contradictions by which we live. If "elitism" is wrong for charters, why is it okay for public schools? Why do we presume that poor kids need a more rigid and authoritar...

January 12, 2010

The Secrets of Charter School Success

Dear Deborah, In my new book, coming out in early March,* I devote a chapter to examining the research about choice from a historical perspective. Leave aside vouchers for now, and let's look at charters, which are all the rage among the movers and shakers, including President Obama, Secretary Dunc...

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