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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 12, 2009

Defining Achievement as More Than Test Scores

Dear Diane, The bad news does seem to overwhelm the good news of late. For starters, when talking about education, we need a new vocabulary. The term "achievement" has become synonymous not with the intellectual tasks of schooling, the "using one's mind well" as Ted Sizer put it, but with whatev...

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 ...

November 03, 2009

Should Teacher Evaluation Depend on Student Test Scores?

Dear Deborah, What a lovely tribute to Ted Sizer! I did not know Ted nearly as well as you did, but I admired him very much. He was very much the gentleman, and truly a gentle man. I had many disagreements with Jerry Bracey over the years; he was not gentle at all. Nonetheless, it is sad that thes...

October 27, 2009

What Does the Best and Wisest Parent Want?

Dear Deborah, Well, I certainly agree with you that all kids should have the quality of education now available only for students in the best schools. Given how much our nation spends on education, this should not be a pipe dream, but we know that it is not happening and has not happened in the pa...

October 22, 2009

What Works for Rich Kids Works for All Kids

Dear Diane, We've got to stop agreeing so much! I can't wait to read your new book so I can go into "attack mode" again. I always wonder, however, whether our disagreements are "fundamental" or based on our very different entries into the world of schooling. I think it's a bit of both. Your view t...

October 13, 2009

We Are Lying to Our Children

Dear Deborah, The elephant in the room is No Child Left Behind. This, as you know, is the latest manifestation of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was passed specifically to help educate disadvantaged children. NCLB was passed by Congress in the fall of 2001 and signed into...

October 01, 2009

The Habits of Using Evidence & Reason Can't Wait

Dear Diane, "To the extent that we can teach students to seek evidence and rational explanations, we will reduce magical thinking and encourage the application of reason and intelligence." —Diane Ravitch, Bridging Differences, Sept. 29 We agree! That's my "core." We also agree that Arne Dun...

September 29, 2009

Tests Have Value, But Testing Is Being Misused

Alternate title: What Does the Best and Wisest Parent Want? Dear Deborah, I am glad to see that you are trying to draw us back to the issues where we have genuine differences! You and I agree that testing and accountability—as currently practiced under NCLB—have become enemies of good...

September 24, 2009

Why School? Rethinking Essentials

Dear Diane, We can go on forever about why "testing as we know it" cannot lead to becoming a well-educated people. We agree, we need to invent a road test—which might in some cases look like AP exams. Or, it might look like the examination system used at Central Park East Secondary School or ...

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