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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 08, 2009

Standards and Passing On the Idea of Democracy

Dear Diane, On standardized standards: I'm a fan of disagreements and messiness—and maybe that's beyond the call of Reason. But here's a try. If we all agreed on everything, or even came close, democracy would be an inefficient and cumbersome business and a luxury we could ill afford in to...

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...

April 02, 2009

Seeing 'Reform' as More Than a Horse Race or Marketplace

Dear Diane, A good narrative is worth a dozen treatises. For good and for bad, we are a species that needs a good story. It’s why simplified history has appeal—we always want to give it a good beginning, middle, and end with a useful moral lesson. We tend to seek, therefore, the “evidence...

March 12, 2009

Thoughts on a National Curriculum

Dear Diane, So we’re back at the thorniest issue—a national curriculum. The kind of “set” curriculum I like is one proposed and supported by the constituents of a particular school—like ours at Mission Hill or CPE/CPESS. Although, even ours was probably not sufficiently detailed...

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...

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...

May 13, 2008

Courtesy, Curriculum, and a New Topic

Dear Deborah, I want to be first in line to shout "hosanna" to your call for courtesy. I place courtesy up there in a pantheon alongside the cultivation of character and civic responsibility, as virtues that are intertwined and that do indeed help to make possible a democratic society. Indeed, wit...

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