Posted 8 years ago on July 16, 2012, 2:50 p.m. EST by fiftyfourforty
from New York, NY
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Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is an historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.
Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader magazine, a small journal devoted to democratic ideas. In 1975, she became a historian of education with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At that time she worked closely with Teachers College president Lawrence A. Cremin, who was her mentor. She was appointed to public office by Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Secretary of Education Richard Riley appointed her to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress; she was a member of NAGB from 1997 to 2004.
She has participated in a "blog debate" called "Bridging Differences" with Steinhardt School colleague Deborah Meier on the website of Education Week since February 26, 2007.
Writings and statements on education
Ravitch critiqued the punitive uses of accountability to fire teachers and close schools, as well as replacing public schools with charter schools and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education (2010). The book became a surprise best seller a month after its release. One reviewer wrote "Ravitch exhibits an interesting mix of support for public education and the rights of teachers to bargain collectively with a tough-mindedness that some on the pedagogical left lack."
While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, Ravitch later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers."
Ravitch said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by "right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation," for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers' unions. She reviewed the documentary Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim, as "propagandistic" (pro-charter schools and anti-public schools), studded with "myths" and at least one "flatly wrong" claim. Of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program, Ravitch said in a 2011 interview it "is an extension of No Child Left Behind ...[,] all bad ideas." She concluded "We are destroying our education system, blowing it up by these stupid policies. And handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. There's plenty of evidence by now that the kids in those schools do no better, and it's simply a way of avoiding their - the public responsibility to provide good education."
Common Core Standards: A Boon for Edu-BizEmergency Manager in Muskegon Heights Picks Charter Corporation » Now It Can Be Told! The Secrets to Success and Riches July 10, 2012 // 42 Bruce Baker has distilled the qualities of successful charter schools. In this post, Baker looks at the reasons that some NYC charter schools succeed.
The reason for creating charters in the late 1980s was that they would have the freedom to try new ideas and thereby to help public schools improve.
As the charters tried new things, public schools would learn from their experience and would improve. The charters were supposed to gain freedom from most state regulation in exchange for their willingness to be held accountable. After twenty years of charter school experimentation, we now have a pretty solid idea of “what works.”
The same things that “work” in charter schools should also work in public schools.
We should not waste time. Let’s learn from the charters so all schools can be successful schools.
First, the best charters spend considerably more money so that they can provide additional services and tutoring. Some spend thousands more per student. That is an important lesson. Every public school that wants to see dramatic improvement should get extra funding.
Second, the charters are free of burdensome regulation by the states and districts.
That’s an important finding. The states and districts should immediately give public schools the same regulatory relief now available to charters.
Third, the charters do not accept the same proportion of students with special needs or students who are English language learners. Uh-oh. That’s a hard one. Public schools are required by state and federal laws to have their doors open to all students. I don’t think that public schools can follow the charter model here. If public schools didn’t take these students, where would they go? Fourth, the charters have even more money to spend because of the small proportion of children with disabilities and English language learners; this is a budget plus. But again, I don’t think public schools can maximize their dollars by excluding the most expensive-to-educate kids. So that’s another no-go. Fifth, the charters make their own disciplinary rules and can toss out kids who misbehave by their rules, like bringing chips to school or not looking in the eyes of the teacher, or speaking up when they are supposed to walk in silence. But if public schools kicked out kids for minor infractions, where would they go? To another public school.
Sixth, the charters have longer school days, longer school weeks, and a longer school year. More time to teach, more time to get ready for state tests. Public schools can do that too, unless those pesky unions insist on being paid more for working longer hours. Seventh, charters keep their costs low by encouraging or tolerating or not minding constant turnover among the teachers. That way, the bulk of teachers are in year one or two, at the bottom of the salary scale, and they are more malleable. Senior teachers cost more, and have ideas of their own. But public schools will have a hard time learning this lesson because senior teachers have job rights. Of course, with the current move on to eliminate seniority and tenure, even public schools will soon be dealing mainly with inexperienced and malleable teachers in their first year. Who will train the new teachers if the senior teachers have left? Well, that’a a problem we will deal with some other time. No one has time to think about that now.
But one thing seems clear: If public schools get more money; if they can be freed of regulations, if they can exclude the most challenging students, if they have longer hours, if they have constant teacher turnover to save money, if they can keep out or push out the students who don’t obey or who can’t pass the tests, then they too will get fabulous results.