Were I to advise Diane Ravitch right now, I’d tell her to change all her computer passwords and redouble the security on her servers. Why? After what happened to the scientists who study global warming, I expect many of the same wackoes are working right now to get her e-mails, knowing that the mere act of stealing them will be enough to indict her change of heart on education in America.
It’s much the same mob crowd in both cases. [I’m hopeful it’s not a mob.]
Dr. Ravitch thinks big thoughts about education. She stands in the vanguard of those people who are both academically astute in education, and who can make a case that appeals to policy makers. Working under Checker Finn at the old Office of Educational Research and Improvement, we quickly got familiar with Ravitch’s works and views. Finn and Ravitch, good friends and like-minded in education issues, were the running backs and sticky-handed receivers for any conservative education quarterback, back in the Day.
Finn was Assistant Secretary of Education for Research under Bill Bennett. Ravitch succeeded Finn, under Lamar Alexander. While Bennett and Alexander took troubling turns to the right, and Finn stayed much where he was, Ravitch has been looking hard at what’s working in schools today.
Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups.
“School reform today is like a freight train, and I’m out on the tracks saying, ‘You’re going the wrong way!’ ” Dr. Ravitch said in an interview.
This is big stuff, and good news to teachers who, since I was at Education in 1987, have been telling policy makers the same things Ravitch is saying now.
David Gardner and Milton Goldberg wrote in the report of the Excellence in Education Commission in 1983 that America faces a “rising tide of mediocrity” because of bad decisions. That’s true of much education reform today, too.
Gardner and Goldberg also said that, had a foreign nation done that damage to us, we’d regard it as an act of war.
Maybe Ravitch’s turn can help mediate an end to the Right’s War on Education and pogroms against teachers.
Here in Texas the conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education didn’t like Ravitch’s views when she was in the conservative camp, so Texas has started, finally, to vote out commissioners who don’t get it, who prefer a state of war on Texas’s children to promoting public education
Let’s hope more people listen to Ravitch now.
Be sure to listen to the NPR interview from Morning Edition, yesterday (you can read it, too).
And, in next Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, a story about how to build a better teacher; do you know the difference between testing and teaching?