Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ravich reflects on views of American education BY DENNIS HEALY

TH - Feature Stories Article
Ravich reflects on views of American education

Since retiring from teaching last June, I continue to follow current educational issues ("Race to the Top"), and reflect on how I responded to educational initiatives during my career.

With great interest I recently read a book by Diane Ravich, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education" published in 2010. I particularly value Ravich's perspective not only because she is an educator, but also. as she asserts in the book, she is neither a liberal nor a conservative ideologue, having served in both Republican (George H.W. Bush) and Democratic (Bill Clinton) administrations in several significant education positions.

Ravich's inspiration for the book occurred when workers remodeled her office, and she had time to peruse previous writings on education, including her own (the book jacket states that "She is the author or editor of over twenty books"). This time of reflection provided her with the answers to her changing perspectives on education.

As the book unfolds, Ravich discusses the forces of change that have informed public education during the last three decades, focusing on their major premises and their effects. They include the following:

A Nation at Risk: Ravich describes the 1983 publication of A Nation at Risk as "the all-time blockbuster of education reports." However, Ravich states that the report "addressed problems that were intrinsic to schooling, such as