Speaking of Gary, I give him a lot of credit for sending this note of apology to Michelle Rhee, and to her for a thoughtful reply:
I'm not sure if you even know about this, but I'd like to apologize for something I wrote on my blog last month. I've copied Whitney on this. He and I have been engaging in a friendly debate about ed reform for about two months and through him, I've been able to learn that some of what I thought I understood about the ed reformers was very oversimplified.
Based on some of the emails that you and I have exchanged over the past few months, you are, I'm sure, aware that I do not agree with many of the policies you support. I think that, in the long run, these policies will cause more harm than good. This, though, does not mean that I don't like you, personally, or that I don't think that you are a good person.
We go back a long way, fifteen years. Though we were not buddies at the 1996 institute, the chat we had over lunch one time when I promised I'd try to get along with my school director, Charlie, did snap me out of an immature position I had about not liking being told what to do.
In the blog post that Whitney called me out on I compared the way I feel you have misused the famous Jordan-Mendro Dallas Value-Added study to advance an agenda that I think is destructive, to the way the Nazis misused Nietzsche's philosophy. Comparing someone who trying to help students to murderers is not a nice thing to do, so I hope you accept my apology for doing this.
You can see the quote in context here:
I left the offending paragraph in for now so you can see it in context, though I put an apology after it. If you would like, after seeing it for yourself, I will gladly remove the paragraph from the post.
I'm sorry for any distress this might have caused you. Though I won't promise to stop writing about how much I disagree with your theories about how to fix education in this country, I do promise to do so in a more civilized manner.
Here is Michelle's reply:
I greatly appreciate your note. While it didn't cause me any distress personally, language of that type doesn't serve the goal of improving the education we provide our students. And in fact harms what should be our common purpose.
Unfortunately, the tone of the education debate has too often become shrill and caustic, and just as disturbingly the tactics have become underhanded and corrosive. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't argue with passion or conviction, but the words and methods we choose to engage in that debate should reflect the seriousness of what we are debating about - the education of our children.
I welcome your willingness to move in that direction, and hope that others will follow.