Ravitch calls the issue: Will public education survive?

Diane Ravitch in Dallas, April 28, 2010 - IMGP3872  Copyright 2010 Ed Darrell

Diane Ravitch in Dallas, April 28, 2010 – Copyright 2010 Ed Darrell (you may use freely, with attribution)

Bill McKenzie, editorial board member and writer for the Dallas Morning News, wrote briefly about the rekindled controversy over standards a year ago — but did he listen to Diane Ravitch on Wednesday night?

He should have.

I first met Ravitch a couple of decades ago when I worked for Checker Finn at the Office of Educational Research and Improvement.   Ted Bell’s idea of a commission to look at education quality, and it’s 1983 report, saved the Reagan administration and assured Reagan’s reelection in 1984.  She was one of the most prodigious and serious thinkers behind education reform efforts, then a close friend of Finn (who was Assistant Secretary of  Education for Research) — a position that Ravitch herself held in the administration of George H. W. Bush.

Ravitch now criticizes the end result of all that turmoil and hard work, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the way it has distorted education to keep us in the crisis we were warned of in 1983.  Then, the “rising tide of mediocrity” came in part because we didn’t have a good way to compare student achievement, state to state.  Today, the mediocrity is driven by the tests that resulted from legislative efforts to solve the problem.

Conditions in education in America have changed.  We still have a crisis after 27 years of education reform (how long do we have a crisis before it becomes the norm), but for the first time, Ravitch said, “There is a real question about whether public education will survive.”  The past consensus on the value of public education and need for public schools, as I would put it, now is challenged by people who want to kill it.

“The new issue today:  Will we have a public education system bound by law to accept all children.”

Ironic, no?  The No Child Left Behind Act has instead created a system where many children could be forced to the rear.

I took an evening in the middle of a week of TAKS testing — the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills.  With ninth through twelfth grades, we had four days of testing which essentially requires the shutdown of the education for the week (we had Monday to review for the test).  It was a week to reflect on just how far we have strayed from the good intentions of public education advocates who pushed the Excellence in Education Commission’s report in 1983.

Ravitch spoke for over an hour.  I’ll have more to report as I get caught up, after a month of meetings, test prep, testing, and little sleep.

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8 Responses to Ravitch calls the issue: Will public education survive?

  1. […] “Ravitch calls the issue:  Will public education survive? Share this:TwitterStumbleUponDiggRedditFacebookEmailLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]


  2. Nick K says:

    Joe, if you think public schools are such failures then exactly how do you think you educate a population of 300 million plus?

    Private schools? Not enough. And some of them are as bad as some public schools.

    Home schooling? Oh don’t make me laugh.

    Let me know when you come up with an answer. And you can come up with an example of a country with the population size of the United States not having a public school system in place.

    But then it is so much easier to sit there and complain about the public schools then to get off your butt and try to help fix the problems isn’t it?


  3. Fred Bortz says:

    Thanks, Ed, for citing my review in the Dallas Morning News. A longer version is available at my Science Shelf Book Review Archive by clicking my name.

    You and I are in complete accord about Dr. Joe Markovich, a chiropractor who would no doubt disagree with my reviews of Only a Theory and Trick or Treatment.

    Readers who like those reviews can contact me through the e-mail links there and get updates on science books 5-6 times per year. That includes you, Ed :)

    Fred Bortz, a proud product of the Pittsburgh (PA) Public Schools and Carnegie Tech, a.k.a. Carnegie-Mellon University


  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Milton Ramirez, Rita Simons Santiago and Gayla Thompson, Graeycie Maze. Graeycie Maze said: Ravitch calls the issue: Will public education survive? « Millard …: Conditions in education in America have cha… http://bit.ly/chBxMY […]


  5. Nick K says:

    Oh and that you say what you do is especially ironic since its your side of the political fence that has done everything possible to dumb the populace down.

    After all..dumb people are easier to hoodwink.


  6. Nick K says:

    As opposed to the racist ignorant mantra sung by the conservative morons?

    That title you carry Joe is a work of fiction apparently. People who have earned Doctorates who are Doctors are supposed to be intelligent people.

    You’re nothing of the sort.


  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Private-enterprise education failed in the 19th century — and the problems of public education do not erase its great successes. More Nobel Prize winners have come out of America’s public schools than any other kind of institution anywhere else, for one example.

    Illegals? You know they contribute to our economy greatly, and that educated illegals contribute more. I wish you would join the free enterprise revolution, and recognize that it’s a market diseconomy, and not a problem that requires us to turn into a Soviet state complete with a New and Improved Berlin Wall.

    We must establish a line of demarcation, indeed. You want to disparage people? Bring facts to the discussion. You’ll soon discover that better decisions flow from better information. Good education is the key to our democratic institutions, and to the continuation of our glorious republic.

    Let’s not allow fools to make us bankrupt: Stop railing without reason against illegals, and get in back of the efforts to boost public education.

    The Berlin Wall failed, largely due to U.S. public education. You need to get updated information on what you regard as failing institutions.

    That’s right: Education makes a liberal elite. Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave? Then thanks to and God bless that liberal elite, and God preserve it.

    You win the Pastor Ray Mummert prize for this thread, with the first comment.


  8. Forced education has already failed not only because of the dumbing down effects of no child left behind but because of a huge influx of non english speakers swelling the schools to the brink. We must establish a line of demarcation. Will we contine to allow illegals and fools to make us bankrupt to fulfill some fake mantra sung by the liberal elite?


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