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February 02, 2010

Closing Schools Solves Nothing

Dear Deborah, Last week, the New York City Department of Education pushed through a decision to close 19 high schools. With the encouragement of the "Race to the Top," we will surely see similar closings across the nation, hundreds or perhaps thousands of them. Entrepreneurs cheer when public scho...

January 21, 2010

What Kind of Achievement Should Count Most?

Dear Diane, Deciding how to measure achievement depends on first defining it. The equating of "performance" and "achievement" with whatever the ELA and math tests tell us puts us in rather an awkward position—and I include in that my colleagues and friends in the AFT and NEA. Randi Weingarte...

January 14, 2010

Redefining Achievement

Dear Diane, Thanks you for that deft summary on charters! Once we forget the public purposes of education, it's easier and easier to forget about the defects of the marketplace as a way to address the common good. One of the concerns raised about the schools I founded was that such schools bred se...

January 07, 2010

Keep Your Eyes on the Money

Dear Diane, Do we hope our children leave school placing truth above money? Good ideas over "the Race to the Top"? Or, that they just "follow the money"? Recently, Laura Pappano wrote in The New York Times about a new world of jobs in education: "...new education leadership jobs: running charter ...

December 03, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

Dear Diane, A powerful statement which ought to be sent to everyone in a position to influence policy and legislation! Thanks. I just read a letter from Steve Jubb, an Oakland-based colleague of mine: "For my part, I agree with Kenneth Bernstein's blog post some days ago. We have inherited a for...

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 ...

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...

July 02, 2009

The Emperor Wears No Clothes

Dear Diane, I don’t even trust myself to write standards (of the sort that can be specs for tests) for one school, one district, one state—much less the whole nation! I’m bound to have a better idea a week later. And, given those who are considered the experts these days on matters of sc...

June 18, 2009

The Data Game

Dear Deborah, Ah, data. A new study from the Center on Education Policy finds that state tests scores have been rising steadily since the passage of NCLB. But the report is based only on state tests, which are notoriously unreliable and even invalid because of the test-prepping that every district ...

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