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September 04, 2008

Advice for the Next President

Dear Diane, I'm always astounded when summer is over. How did it get by me so fast? Of course, in the past few years I don't get plunged back into the three-ring circus of schooling so suddenly. But, oddly, I miss that plunge. Among other reasons because it meant I had no time for worrying about pr...

June 30, 2008

Blaming Teachers

Dear Diane, You've caught me remembering what wasn't there. I reread A Nation at Risk, and—you are right-- it didn't claim that teachers were the enemy within. It even gave a few kudos to hard working teachers. It's interesting (to me) that I should misremember it. So how did we get from...

June 05, 2008

Making Sense of Our Differences

Dear Diane, NYC’s decision—for budgetary reasons—to forego mandatory intelligence testing of 5-year-olds this fall is worth celebrating. But it’s a dangerous idea that will be back again. The earlier the testing culture starts, the more it erodes the resilience of all children, bu...

May 22, 2008

It All Depends On...

Dear Diane, The notion of good medical care as "test prepping" is delightfully bizarre, but maybe no less so than traditional forms of test-prepping? Perhaps Richard Rothstein is correct that it would have a greater impact on test score gaps. Traditional psychometrics is filled with problems buil...

April 24, 2008

A Marshall Plan for Teaching

Dear Diane, Let's pursue, over time, these topics: (1) the way we see "popular" culture and "the street" as sources for learning, (2) the notion of a "consensus" on curriculum—and the idea that we can insure that it only takes 50 percent of our time, and, finally, (3) that it doesn't matter w...

April 17, 2008

Learning Shouldn't Be Easy to Shake Off

Dear Diane, Perhaps the most revolutionary thing we can do, as educators, is provide examples of adults who use their minds freely and toughly, in the interest of raising smart, feisty youngsters! On a recent visit to Wesleyan, where my granddaughter is a student, some teachers and students pla...

April 01, 2008

What About Students Who Don't Want to be Students?

Dear Deb, I was just sitting down to reply to your post and thought I would first scan my email. I opened the daily email from ASCD SmartBrief, which links to interesting stories about schools across the nation. There was a story from Pontiac, Mich., with this headline: “Teacher Recovers from Att...

March 27, 2008

Struggling to Get the Balance Right

Dear Diane, I think we took the same message from the NYC pizza event. If I called it an example of out of control bureaucracy it’s because Klein and company seem to acknowledge no limits! Which leads nicely into our discussion of limits! Yes, I think you are partly right about behavior an...

March 25, 2008

When Schools Are Scary

Dear Debbie, Since I don’t imagine that any state or school district plans to roll back its school attendance requirements—no more than you intended your bored student to leave school and go home—I am not going to debate whether school is or is not a scary place for most kids. These d...

March 04, 2008

Can Policymakers Incentivize Great Teachers with $$$?

Dear Deb, I am happy to join with you in adopting a bridging motto of “Neither guide on the side nor sage on the stage.” One of the things that brought me to admire you was your obvious passion about teaching, learning, and children. I said at the outset of our conversation that I would gladly ...

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