Saturday, October 19, 2019
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Miracle schools, vouchers and all that educational flim-flam

...is the title of this piece by Diane Ravitch.  Diane Ravitch  It appeared at the website of Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, as part of the "Ask This"  which is subtitled "Questions the Press Should Ask."   Oh if only reporters and writers on education were knowledgeable enough about education to ask questions such as those posed by Ravitch, perhaps we could cut through all the misleading and inaccurate information, the attempts to manipulate the public discourse on education to exclude the voices of those - including both Ravitch (a personal friend) and myself - who say that our supposed pattern of educational "reform" is like the emperor's new clothes -  there is no there there, as Gertrude Stein once opined of Oakland.

You should read Ravitch's piece.   To whet your appetite, let me offer Diane's first paragraph here, and then explore a bit more below the fold:  

Be skeptical of miracle schools. Sometimes their dramatic gains disappear in a year or two or three. Most such claims rely on cheating or gaming the system or on intensive test prep that involves teaching children how to answer test questions. These same children, having learned to take tests, may actually be very poorly educated, even in the subjects where their scores were rising.

Please keep reading.

Somebody Explain This to Me

The title is from George Wood, author of this blog post After telling you about the school he has run for the past 18 years in a rural area of Ohio, and the success they have had in increasing graduation and college going rates, improving student engagement, etc.  he offers the following words:  
But reading the popular press, and listening to the chatter from Washington, I have just found out that we are not part of the movement to 'reform' schools.

You see we did not do all the stuff that the new 'reformers' think is vital to improve our schools.  We did not fire the staff, eliminate tenure, or go to pay based on test scores.  We did not become a charter school.  We did not take away control from a locally elected school board and give it to a mayor.  We did not bring in a bunch of two-year short-term teachers.

Nope, we did not do any of these things.  Because we knew they would not work.

Let me explore his post a bit more, and offer a few additional thoughts of my own.

An incredibly important speech on education by Diane Ravitch

That is a brief clip of Diane Ravitch addressing the Representative Assembly of the National Education Association on July 6, where she was receiving an award as the 2010 "Friend of Education."  

Please keep reading.

Diane Ravitch on Why Charter Schools Are A Really Bad Idea

This past Thursday, former Assistant Secretary of Education, Diane Ravitch, laid into "charter schools" and "No Child Left Behind" on the Diane Rehm Show. This is a timely and topical subject here in Virginia, as Bob McDonnell's education agenda relies heavily on the "charter school" concept. In contrast to McDonnell and his ideological approach to education (and everything else, for that matter), Ravitch is essentially nonpartisan - a Ph.D. historian of education and research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Education who served under both President George HW Bush and President Bill Clinton.

Earlier this month, Ravitch came out with a new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, which is being described in glowing terms by reviewers. For instance, Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post writes, "Her credibility with conservatives is exactly why it would be particularly instructive for everyone--whether you have kids in school or not--to read [Ravitch's book]." I'm looking forward to reading the book, but in the meantime, I listened to Ravitch on the Diane Rehm Show.  I also read this article by Ravitch, "The Big Idea -- it's bad education policy."  A few key points regarding charter schools and why they're a really bad idea.