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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...

April 06, 2010

A Letter to Lawmakers

Dear Deborah, Today I am going to cheat. Well, not really cheat, but just deal with the fact that I am hard pressed to find time to do much more than breathe and sleep (I do not include "eat" because I have been skipping meals, and I should not include "sleep" because I don't do much of that eithe...

March 25, 2010

What Are the Trade-Offs?

Dear Diane, Lucid and to the point, Diane. I'll sign on. Once again, we may confront a law that penalizes schools that don't eliminate differential test score outcomes that correlate with race, class, disability, or language spoken at home. (And that pays teachers based on scores, and favors charte...

March 16, 2010

The Shame of Newsweek

Dear Deborah, Did you see Newsweek last week? What a stunning and uninformed attack on teachers and teachers' unions. The cover of the magazine told the story: The Key to Saving American Education, by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert. It was printed on a classroom blackboard. In the background, on the s...

January 28, 2010

Educating the Young: Who Knows 'Best'?

Dear Diane, It was good to read your summary of our plight with my old hometown Chicago, not NYC, as the centerpiece. It's a replay of the scenario under the former Secretary of Education Rod Paige who shipped his "Texas miracle" to the nation under President George W. Bush. The result—NCLB. ...

December 17, 2009

The 'Alternative?' Transparency & Honest Data

Dear Diane, Time to rest up and maybe start 2010 in a more hopeful mood. I just put down an article in The New Yorker by Atul Gawande entitled "Testing, Testing." But it's not about schooling, but medical tests. The author is a doctor at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and grew up in Athens ...

December 03, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

Dear Diane, A powerful statement which ought to be sent to everyone in a position to influence policy and legislation! Thanks. I just read a letter from Steve Jubb, an Oakland-based colleague of mine: "For my part, I agree with Kenneth Bernstein's blog post some days ago. We have inherited a for...

November 30, 2009

The Irreplaceable Ted Sizer

Note: This column was scheduled to appear on Nov. 25, but was not published until Nov. 30 due to an editing error. Dear Diane, I went up to Boston last weekend for the memorial service/celebration of Ted Sizer's life at Harvard's Memorial Church. Rituals can be wonderful things when we are facing ...

November 19, 2009

Let's Slow Down & Consider Our Path Carefully

Dear Diane, Someone calling himself "natturner" had a sharp reply to Jay Mathews' column on closing big high schools. Even though I was part of such an effort many years ago, and still brag about the results, I think natturner made a good rhetorical point in his comment on Mathews' blog: "Mr. Math...

November 05, 2009

Simplify Everything Else, Not Kids & Subject Matter

Dear Diane, The absurdities you describe are on the mark and ought to kill the idea of paying teachers based on their students' test scores. But we both know the idea won't die that easily. Even the most renowned of testing experts argue that we're nowhere near being able to produce tests that can ...

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