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March 24, 2009

Will Public Education Survive the Embrace of Big Money?

Dear Deborah, My guess is that we will have a long time, not months, but years, to discuss national standards and a national curriculum. The question won’t go away. It is one of the items on Secretary Duncan’s “to-do” list. In 1995, I wrote a book on the subject and predicted that we would ...

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’...

March 10, 2009

21st-Century Skills, Accountability, and Curriculum

Dear Deborah, Last week, I attended three different conferences in Washington, D.C. Not something I like to do, as I really do hope to finish my book in a few months. One was the “21st-Century skills” panel at Common Core, which we discussed. Then there was a panel discussion of accountability,...

March 03, 2009

What About 21st Century Skills?

Dear Deborah, Since you brought up the subject of “21st Century skills,” it seemed like an opportune time to talk a bit about this subject. A week ago, I participated in a panel discussion on this topic, sponsored by an organization called Common Core in Washington, D.C.. Common Core was cre...

February 26, 2009

Confusing Test Scores With 'Being Well-Educated'

Dear Diane, A great Tuesday letter. It has outraged some of my friends—whose strategic approach now is to applaud anything moving in our direction and speak quietly about anything we profoundly disagree with. Yes, alas: Duncan’s office is not yet offering a change either of us can believ...

February 17, 2009

The Miracle Teacher, Revisited

Dear Deborah, I was about to move on to a new topic but on Sunday read a column in The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof titled "Our Greatest National Shame." Well, as you must surely realize, it is American education that is "our greatest national shame." Kristof says that "...we do know that th...

January 13, 2009

A Good Word or Two About Schools

Dear Deborah, I acknowledge that I have been influenced in my thinking by my frequent exchanges with you. A friend warned me the other day that I have been giving aid and comfort to the anti-testing crowd, which he said was a terrible thing. I think he got it wrong. I am not (nor have I ever been)...

January 08, 2009

Murray et al

Dear Diane, Happy New Year! I spent last Saturday going through years of “stuff” I’ve collected—letters, essays, reports, notes, etc. that will be going to the Lilly Library at the University of Indiana. Eighty percent of it is school stuff. Several colleagues came over to help put t...

December 09, 2008

Is Democratic Governance the Problem?

Dear Deborah, You quote John Goodlad, who asks “Whatever became of the idea that representative democracy is the essential starting point for public education?” This is an important question to raise today, as I suspect that our political elites have lost faith in this idea. Take, for example...

November 27, 2008

Needed Now: Bold Alternate Schemes

Dear Diane, On Thanksgiving day, I’m counting my blessings. Number one: you and I can have an influence (hah!) in maneuvering us through to better times in public education. We’ve at least got a 50-50 or 2-98 chance. A better future won’t come from the folks who have given us the recent past...

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