Diane Ravitch–a non-partisan public education critic who deserves a wider audience

Diane Ravitch showed up on Chicago’s NPR station yesterday and in an interview available here said some very accurate things about the state of education. The great thing about Ravitch’s story is that she has moved beyond partisanship–though she worked for the first Bush president as assistant Secretary of Education, and although she approved of 2001’s NCLB, her thinking has evolved. She sees that policy as a failure, and cannot understand why Barack’s administration would perpetuate it.  Arne Duncan, are you listening?

Among highlights of the interview, Ravitch opined that:

  • Chicago’s “Turnaround” method, now embedded in the “Race to the Top” not only doesn’t improve education, it “throws away social capital.”
  • Instead of dangling the bribes in front of states, Duncan should be going to congress right now and finding the money to abate the spread of teacher firings, which in effect would “keep schools alive.”
    The “really horrible” situation now is based on an education model of “punish, punish” and does nothing to inspire and improve. It is “national madness… a frenzy to fire teachers and be punitive.”
  • The charter school ideal has been betrayed. They have turned public schools into private profit engines for their boosters and do no better than public schools. Their only innovation seems to be in making new graduates work 60-80 hours/week with no job security. 
  • The test regimes of NCLB have resulted in state after state engaging in “institutional fraud” by falsely showing improvement. 
  • NCLB and a lack of federal dollars also result in cutting arts, language, and other enrichment programs, something that goes directly against what John Dewey prescribed for American public education: “What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.”

So, go Diane! May your new book‘s non-partisan message get through to our educational policy makers before even more damage is done to American society!

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