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February 09, 2010

Two Types of Superintendent

Dear Deborah, As I watch events across the nation, I have concluded that district leadership today falls into one of two varieties. On one hand is the traditional superintendent, who believes that he is responsible for the schools and students in his care. He visits the schools often and consults ...

January 28, 2010

Educating the Young: Who Knows 'Best'?

Dear Diane, It was good to read your summary of our plight with my old hometown Chicago, not NYC, as the centerpiece. It's a replay of the scenario under the former Secretary of Education Rod Paige who shipped his "Texas miracle" to the nation under President George W. Bush. The result—NCLB. ...

January 26, 2010

Arne Duncan at ED: Year One

Dear Deborah, It is time to appraise the first year of the Obama administration and its impact on American education. I met with Arne Duncan in October, and I liked him very much. He is a very likeable guy. But I strongly disagree with his priorities. In a recent Education Week article about Duncan...

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 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 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...

December 17, 2009

The 'Alternative?' Transparency & Honest Data

Dear Diane, Time to rest up and maybe start 2010 in a more hopeful mood. I just put down an article in The New Yorker by Atul Gawande entitled "Testing, Testing." But it's not about schooling, but medical tests. The author is a doctor at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and grew up in Athens ...

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...

December 01, 2009

Why Business Leaders Should Not Be in the Driver's Seat

Dear Deborah, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. We have much to be thankful for in this wonderful country. I am forever thankful that my mother came to this country after World War I (from Bessarabia), and that my paternal grandparents came to this country in the mid-19th Century (from Poland). ...

November 30, 2009

The Irreplaceable Ted Sizer

Note: This column was scheduled to appear on Nov. 25, but was not published until Nov. 30 due to an editing error. Dear Diane, I went up to Boston last weekend for the memorial service/celebration of Ted Sizer's life at Harvard's Memorial Church. Rituals can be wonderful things when we are facing ...

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