2013 had some surprises for me, both good and bad.

This blog turned out to be a huge preoccupation. I spend 4-5 hours on it every day. You help me write it, as many of the blogs are your comments, explaining your experience as a teacher or parent or principal or superintendent.

The blog is now approaching 9 million page views, and it started only in April 2012.

I am not data-driven, as the numbers have no consequences for me or anyone else. I won’t get a bonus or be fired for not hitting a target. It is just great to know that there are so many people participating in the conversations, contributing to them, learning together about what is happening in other states and in one teacher’s classroom.

I blog more than I tweet, but I have been trying to cut back on the number of blogs, so that readers don’t feel overwhelmed. That is why some days you will see only 5 or 6 or 7 posts, whereas I used to send out 15 or 20, with no regard for what I was doing to your email inbox. So, yes, I am trying to restrain myself, and I turn to Twitter to tweet interesting stories that I don’t post.

My Twitter following is now over 70,000, which means that whatever gets posted here on this blog automatically reaches the Twitter followers. That enlarges the conversation. I direct the conversation, but I don’t limit it to people who agree with me. There can’t be a good discussion if everyone agrees on everything.

I thank you for helping me to create a space where we can celebrate, commiserate, and offer one another encouragement and information.

I consider all the readers of the blog to be my friends, and it is always a treat when someone comes up at a speaking engagement and introduces himself or herself by their blog name or Twitter I.D.

I know every one of you, believe it or not.

I try to read every comment.

Thank you.

A few more pieces of good news:

My latest book Reign of Error was published in September 2013 and was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was listed by Apple as one of the best books of the year and by the Nation magazine as the “most valuable” books of the year.

I won the Grawemeyer education award for 2014, not for Reign of Error, but for my previous book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I will be in Louisville on February 1 to speak to the Kentucky School Boards Association, and will return to Louisville to receive the Grawemeyer award on April 16.

That was the good news.

The bad news was that when I was near the end of my fall speaking tour, I became very ill with deep vein thrombosis. That means blood clots in the legs, in my case, both legs. That means i must get up and walk around when I fly, and that means I am on blood thinners for the rest of my life to avoid a recurrence. I had to cancel speaking dates in Chicago, Madison, and Las Vegas. But I start up again in mid-January and I will be traveling again. I will post my spring schedule in the next couple of weeks.

I feel very hopeful about the future. I feel that the tide is turning in our struggle to reclaim our schools from the misguided policies of the past dozen years of NCLB and Race to the Top. All the competition, testing, accountability, merit pay, privatization, and other policies have failed. They fail again and again. They don’t improve education. They are damaging our precious public school system, skimming off the best kids when they can or discouraging them by taking away the joy of learning.. They are hurting children, demeaning education, demoralizing educators. They fail and fail and fail, and sooner or later the public will awaken to the great hoaxes that are being perpetrated in the name of “reform.”

I believe in the basic common sense of the American people. They will not willingly allow themselves to be tricked once they are on to the game. The game is almost over. there are no miracle schools, just games that adults play. The billionaires will get bored and go back to playing with their yachts and polo ponies. Common sense will prevail. We owe our children a far better education than the impoverished game of test-and-punish that is now mandated. We owe them more than test prep. We owe our teachers respect and honor. We owe our society a great educational system.

And I am convinced we will persist and we will reclaim education.