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January 19, 2010

How the Media Garbled Randi's Message

Dear Deborah, I am sure you were as surprised as I was to read the headlines in the newspapers saying that Randi Weingarten proposed that teachers should be evaluated by their students' test scores. This is a contentious issue. In New York, at Randi's urging, the state legislature passed a law prev...

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...

September 22, 2009

The NCLB Paradox Enters the Twilight Zone

Dear Deborah, Over the past week, you and I have each weighed in on the defects of testing. You have been arguing for many years that standardized testing is replete with flaws. I have only recently recognized the ways in which pressure to raise scores, mainly prompted by NCLB, has corrupted testin...

April 30, 2009

Test Scores and Reinforcing the Wrong Connections

Dear Diane, The good news is that most of the American people haven’t lost their common sense. And, above all, those closest to “the action”—parents, teachers, kids, and their families, plus a majority of those who work closely with schools or are “students” of schooling—haven...

March 19, 2009

The Power of Big Money & Big State Over Knowledge

Dear Diane, But let’s not postpone our discussion about national standards for too long. It mostly boils down to my fear about official ideologies and centralized power over ideas. Plus, our old disagreement about intellectual “neutrality” and objectivity. I found your analysis of Obama’...

February 05, 2009

The Schools Belong to "Us"

EDITOR'S NOTE: This entry has been updated since it was first posted. Dear Diane, Yes, our meeting in person is one thing for which I can thank Al Shanker. But some of the current teacher bashing was, alas, initiated by him. It endeared him to many. There was that streak in him that led him to...

February 03, 2009

Unions Are Not the Problem

Dear Deborah, I well remember when we first met. As you mentioned, it was Al Shanker who suggested that I call you. This was after you had pretty well lacerated two of my books. Al said, "You should meet Debbie. You'll like her." He was right. I was very impressed with what I saw at Central Park E...

January 29, 2009

If We Want Schools for the Future, not the Past...

Dear Diane, My head and heart are in a muddle—politically. I enjoyed your letter, Diane, and realized our mutual support for teachers’ unions may have something to do with the degree of our rapprochement. It’s not a coincidence that it was the late AFT leader Al Shanker who suggested you ...

January 27, 2009

How Slash-and-Burn Promotes Unionism

Dear Deborah, We got some good comments from readers who went to the trouble of reading the U.S. Department of Education document on how to turn around chronically low-performing schools. They, too, thought it bizarre that the government would publish a set of recommendations for which there was a...

January 22, 2009

Reforming and/or Busting Unions?

Dear Diane, Given how patently absurd all these old-fangled reforms are, even if we accept the premises they define for success, how do we explain the staying power of this newly defined “reform?” It doesn’t take a super-genius to recognize that the four recommendations you site, Diane, on...

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