Class Warfare Blog

September 26, 2013

If I May Quote Diane Ravitch

Back when Dr. Ravitch was a darling of the conservatives in education circles I used to dislike her in the extreme (respect yes, but like, no). She had a conversion of sorts when she saw what conservative policies were doing to school kids and now is somewhat of a darling of the left. I think she is a darling of reason. Here is one of her warnings . . . about the consequences of turning over our school systems over to mayors and state and federal departments of education.

One thing we should have learned in the past dozen years is that it is dangerous to allow politicians to tie their ambitions to schools. When that happens, the Department of Education—whether it is a district or a state—-turns into the Department of Political Propaganda, dedicated to burnishing the image of the governor or the mayor. How can we know whether schools are improving when huge amounts of money are spent to spin the results so the politician in charge looks good?”  Diane Ravitch

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4 Comments »

  1. Hi Stephen,

    I’m writing to you because of your reference to Diane Ravitch. I’ve contributed a number of pieces to her blog but she is now withholding any comments I make because most of the time, about 98%, I totally disagree with her thesis.

    I am a semi-retired math teacher and realize public education is in deep trouble. But contrary to most of what is written, the solution must come from the classroom, the teacher. Diane is a top-down solution provider. I am a bottoms-up believer, where solutions can and should come from Free Teachers, the independent minded curriculum writer who stands by the results of his/her teaching.

    Dick Velner – Teacher, Parent and Curriculum Principal

    Comment by dickvelner — September 26, 2013 @ 10:23 am | Reply

    • Dick, I am a fully retired chemistry teacher and I don’t see Diane as a completely top down actor. Which is what I believe, namely that we need a lot of bottom up and top down efforts. If we have a committment to using best practices in our classrooms it must be teacher focussed, but teachers need access to databases of inforamtion: things that were tried and their outcomes, ideas, etc. and that has to be a broad, e.g. national or international effort. I am tired of other countries taking our ideas and beating our brains in with them as we reject those successful ideas (see Finland’s ed system, see Japan’s manufacturing processes, even Korea’s archery teams). we are addicted to fadism and sadly misinformed/subject to propaganda.

      When I left teaching in 2006 I thought one of the very most pressing problems we had was grade inflation (as a form of poor feedback). Little did I know that the corporate raiders had their sights on our public education funds. While I think Diane, like you and I, has her strengths and weaknesses, I think she is on the right side of this. We can fight about the smaller things later.

      Why she would ban your comments, I do not know. There is a rule I follow: think incompetence nine times before malice. She could very well have banned you by accident or while in a bad mood. Have you emailed her directly?

      Comment by stephenpruis — September 26, 2013 @ 10:38 am | Reply

      • Thanks for the reply, Stephen. Couple of points. I do not think Diane gives a hoot as to who I am but her actions were (I think) predicated more from her consideration of her mainstream readers. She has a huge following and most wear the “Love Diane” buttons. So when I came along, responses swelled to the point where I think she felt better-off without my commentary. Only a guess but it’s all about belief and perception.

        Also I have 14 grandchildren (I’m 74) and I know we (teachers) can do better. It is why I’ve created my concept school – The Russian School of Mathematics.

        Dick Velner – Curriculum Writer

        Comment by dickvelner — September 26, 2013 @ 11:24 am | Reply

        • Yeah, I am not a “Diane Lover” at this point but the “enemy of my enemy …” applies here. I see the entire middle class and the aspiring poor being ravaged by the interests of the rich: politicians being bought, our laws being skewed, our Supreme Court being biased (strict constructionists voting on Gore v. Bush … at alll … ?!), labor being devalued, etc. all in the name of wealth. So, the hostile takeover of public education, one of the cornerstones of our democracy is something I am battling, as is she, so for the interim I appreciate her efforts, as I do yours to share your words and ideas.

          Comment by stephenpruis — September 26, 2013 @ 12:10 pm | Reply


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