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September 23, 2008

The Dumbing Down of 'Accountability'

Dear Deborah, I heard from a friend who attended the New York state Senate hearing where you testified. He said you were outstanding. Just last week, the New York City Department of Education released its “report cards” for the schools. Every school was assigned a single letter grade from A to...

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...

September 11, 2008

Trust, Community, and Schools

Dear Diane, I'm not entirely ducking it—just partly. I'm also getting at it in a circuitous way! Of course, at heart, I am struggling to understand the American "people." I know I am hopelessly out of the loop, although I keep circling around for common threads. The enthusiasm for Sarah Pal...

July 03, 2008

How To Get From Here to There

Dear Diane, It’s helpful in some way to know that I “have to” write once a week for some audience—including first and foremost you. It makes me set aside snippets here and there to possibly write and think about. I put an old essay that Florence Miller and I wrote together about a book...

June 24, 2008

Reports, Reform, and Hype

Dear Deborah, I can’t believe that we are debating the message of A Nation at Risk in 2008, a quarter century after it appeared! We have been agreeing so much lately that it is useful that we remember that we do have plenty of differences. That way, we can continue to try to bridge them. Thi...

June 19, 2008

Challenging the 'Longer Hours,' 'Try Harder' Wisdom

Dear Diane, "We live in interesting times." A statement generally said more in sorrow than joy—and that's how I've felt this week over the coverage of the two contrasting reports to which you referred. Probably not many folks will read either, but many will notice the gist of each. David Bro...

June 17, 2008

Is More Testing the New Civil Rights Agenda?

Dear Deborah, To answer your question, “How come, since there are more teachers than policymakers,” the policymakers get to run the show? Easy. Public education is controlled by laymen, not professionals. Decision-making power is placed by law in the hands of the local board of education, the s...

June 10, 2008

If You Can't Measure Joy and Wonder, What Good Are They?

Dear Deborah, On Sunday morning, as I was pondering my reply to your last blog about “making sense of our differences,” I picked up The New York Times and read a shocking story. It seems that in Tanzania, albinos are being hunted down and killed by people who believe that their skin and body pa...

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...

June 04, 2008

What Good are Tests?

Dear Deborah, Tests inevitably gauge a student’s fund of knowledge and experience, not just what was taught in school. If a student comes from a family where he or she hears a large vocabulary, where there are many books in the home, where reading and learning are valued, where there are excursio...

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