Diane Ravitch’s turn-about

I want to ask her why, if I, someone who’d entered teaching late in life, could see this early on, why couldn’t she? Pakistan? You needed to go there to figure out that private and religious schools aren’t about teaching everybody, that they are about indoctrination (with some notable exceptions). Private, elite schools are about enculturating the young into the life of leadership, perks, and privilege and how to protect it; religious schools are about how they are right and everyone else is wrong. But she had to go to Pakistan to figure that out.

We have turned our schools into test-prep factories? No, duh. What did she expect when her pals the Neocons turned up the heat on teachers and said, “High scores or the highway”? Did she think teachers were going to innovate when a low test result could bring on a devastating encounter with an administrator?

Think about the pressure, the heartbreak, the fear, the horrible distortions of education that she and her ilk have brought on. No wonder she’s done an about-face and a mea culpa. But that is so typical of ideologically driven people; it’s swing WAYYY over here, then WAYYYY over there. And every place they wind up is the only place to be. That’s why Heilbrunn titled his book They Knew They Were Right. Very smart, very knowledgeable, but driven by ideology; they are not pragmatic.

In 2005, she said, a study she undertook of Pakistan’s weak and inequitable education system, dominated by private and religious institutions, convinced her that protecting the United States’ public schools was important to democracy.

She remembers another date, Nov. 30, 2006, when at a Washington conference she heard a dozen experts conclude that the No Child law was not raising student achievement.

These and other experiences left her increasingly disaffected from the choice and accountability movements. Charter schools, she concluded, were proving to be no better on average than regular schools, but in many cities were bleeding resources from the public system. Testing had become not just a way to measure student learning, but an end in itself.

We’ve already seen some responses on flteach. Most flteachers have been, by my count (no, I don’t have the exact numbers —- god, that’s ridiculous), unfavorable toward NCLB. A good many see the problems with Charter Schools. And most of them, incl myself, see value in private and charter schools and in good, solid testing. It’s the disgusting abuse of NCLB by the Bush administration that we have been against, plus its continuation under Mr. Tough Love, Arne Duncan. Blame the teachers, sitting around drinking coffee instead of working; blame the “kids these days”, lazy, irresponsible.

I’ll add to this later. I’d love to read comments on this.

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