Diane Ravitch examines new tests results from Illinois, which have been released with dire warnings about “failure.” Ravitch puts this story in the context of current trends in education. She is very strong as an advocate for teachers in a time when many forces are attacking some of our country’s most talented and dedicated employees. Is the test (PARCC) a true measure of what students are learning and teachers are teaching? Or is it a tool to promote education “reform”?
Writing in Common Dreams, Jim Horn, a Professor of Education at Cambridge College, examines Diane Ravitch in the light of her new book, Reign of Error: the Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. Horn notes that this book has been widely reviewed and focuses on the author instead, calling her a whistleblower and truth teller. Ravitch, once a champion of education “reform,” has turned against corporate-based philosophies of education “reform.” Horn calls Ravitch, “the single individual who most influenced the eventual outcome if parents and teachers and students continue to heed the call for the restoration and renewal of public schools free of high stakes tests for all children who choose a high quality and free education.”
Horn’s critique underscores Ravitch’s importance not just to education, but to democracy and workers’ rights. A free society needs school systems that will be responsive to citizens, not the corporate elite. It also needs schools that promote more meritocracy, not selective schools or charter schools that cherry pick those students deemed to be “winners.” If we are to live up to the promise of America, we need schools that will be of the people, by the people, and for the people. Diane Ravitch has shown that, for all its flaws, the best vehicle to promote fair education is the public school.
I don’t have much time to blog tonight (the Blackhawks game start in 10 minutes). But I do want to recommend a great post from Laura Clawson of Daily Kos. The governor of Pennsylvania commissioned a survey to develop a strategy to blame teachers’ unions for the state’s problems.
We see similar attacks in state after state. Too many American have bought into the myth that unions are a problem. The forces that want to make money off of public schools have been some of the loudest voices in this campaign. We need to support public schools, teachers, and unions. All working people need to stick together, not stab each other in the back.
A country’s greatest resource isn’t its military, industry, or natural resources. Children are the future – future citizens, consumers, and workers. In an essay from Common Dreams, Diane Ravitch looks at the dollars-focused “reforms” proposed for public schools in several American cities. The most shocking might be in Detroit, where 50% of the schools are slated to be closed by 2016. Some students will be housed (not learning) in classes of 60.
Our failure to fund education, the Right’s constant attack on public schools and teachers, will have major consequences in the future. At a time when jobs demand increased knowledge and skills, we are taking resources away from education. Teachers in some of the roughest schools are having pay and benefits cut – who will want that job? Anyone who’s talking about balancing the budget and putting people back to work without supporting education is either a fool or a hypocrite.