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December 06, 2007

The Fallout from Testing

Dear Diane, There's a streak of naivete about you that is both delightful and infuriating! The notion that we have come to a consensus on what constitutes the well-educated 8-, 12- or 18-year-old, on what body of facts and scientific truth we all agree is essential, and finally that we have a way ...

November 29, 2007

In Defense of Politics—Sort of

Dear Diane, It's fun occasionally to be reminded of why we were considered by so many to be "in opposition." When you took pleasure in the NY Times editorial promoting tests (this time national), I was reminded of our disagreements! Allowing a national definition of success to rest on so many una...

November 28, 2007

National Tests Keep the Districts Honest

Dear Deborah, I note with pleasure that The New York Times endorsed (again) the principle of national testing. My guess is that the latest NAEP results for New York City prompted them to do so. As you know, New York City has been trumpeting its "historic gains" in test scores without let-up ove...

November 21, 2007

Accountability for Cars vs. Kids

Dear Diane, The intellectual and informational inaccuracy, sloppiness and thoughtlessness of so much of education reporting still shocks me—I know I ought to have gotten over it. The story you told me about the reporter who bought NYC's claims that the latest NAEP results are a sign of the DO...

November 20, 2007

Schools Are Not in a True Marketplace

Dear Deborah, It was interesting that you used the analogy to Consumer Reports to discuss the value of grading schools. As a longtime subscriber to CR, I understand that it is useful to have a disinterested voice evaluating the products in the marketplace. To make sure that there is never a confli...

November 15, 2007

Seeking a Simpler System With More Complicated Grades

Dear Diane, Amen. We agree, although it will be interesting to see where this takes us—re. alternatives. (For next week?) Bard College President Leon Botstein's outraged voice last week helped me sort out the issues raised by NYC's new school grading system. (Disclosure: my granddaughter ...

November 14, 2007

Addendum to NYC Grades Entry

Dear Deb, I must add two points to my blog about the letter grades handed out to New York City public schools last week. As I said in my original post, the formula was complex but heavily dependent on how students did on the state tests. Eighty-five percent of the letter grade (and remember that e...

November 13, 2007

Bad Grading in NYC

Deborah, You mentioned the new grading system. Our readers may not be aware of what is happening, so let me recapitulate the system as best I can. "Best I can," to be sure, because it is not a transparent system and its calculations are extremely obscure. At bottom, it amounts to this: Each school...

November 08, 2007

Worrying About When the Other Shoe Will Fall

Dear Diane, We've been e-mailing back and forth during this past week—so you already know how shocked I was, even though I might have imagined I was above and beyond shockable. Some months ago I wrote about my own fears—about potential retaliation against the schools I was most identif...

November 06, 2007

Scare Tactics in NYC

Dear Deb, What a week this has been! I received a phone call late last Monday afternoon (Oct. 29) from an editor at the New York Post, offering me a “heads up.” He said, “Just wanted to let you know that there will be a personal attack on you in tomorrow’s paper, on the opinion page.” Th...

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