Thursday, July 21, 2011

Paul Tough email

Speaking of Paul Tough (and per my last email, posted at, in which Jonathan Alter and I responded to Paul Tough's article in last Sunday's NYT Magazine, Paul gave permission to share his email to me, which I was responding to:


Hi Whitney,


Thanks for your note, and for those posts and reports. I'm a reader of your blog, so I'd seen many of them, but it's good to have them all in one place.


I appreciate your comments, and I appreciate our differences on the piece. I hope I wasn't implying that reformers are naive zealots! I certainly don't believe that. 


You're right that I left out that Tim King (and Jonathan) acknowledged that there's more room for improvement at these improving schools. But I'm going to stand behind my point that the results at these two schools are more cause for concern than celebration.


Put it this way: If my son's principal told me that 85 percent of my son's class had failed a statewide achievement test, but that I should congratulate him, because three years ago, 95 percent of the class failed, I would not, in fact, be celebrating. I would demand better for my son. And parents in Englewood and northeast Denver deserve no less. KIPP and other schools have shown that it's possible to elevate low-income kids to high levels of achievement quite quickly. I'm just trying to figure out how to get those kind of results for huge numbers of poor kids, instead of just a few thousand. I'm guessing that you and I have somewhat different ideas on the policy changes that will get us there. But I have a feeling we agree on that goal.


Again, thanks for your note, and for all your work on this issue,



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