Monday, June 13, 2016

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’ - The Washington Post

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’ - The Washington Post:

Diane Ravitch to Obama: ‘I will never understand why you decided to align your education policy with that of George W. Bush’

Diane Ravitch speaks at the Education on the Edge Lecture Series at California State University Northridge on Oct. 2, 2013. (Michael Buckner/Getty Images)


Diane Ravitch has been the titular leader of the grass-roots movement against corporate school reform since 2010, when her book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” was published and quickly became a bestseller. (In fact, readers of the the pro-reform journal Education Next named it the most important book of the first decade of the 2000s.) In the book, she explained why she dropped her support for No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of former president George W. Bush and standardized test-based school reform. Now she has updated the book and explained why she has again changed her view on at least one important issue. This post is a Q&A I had with Ravitch about her book and the state of the public education.
The reason Ravitch’s change of position mattered was because of her position in the education world. A well-respected education historian and author, she worked from 1991 to 1993 as assistant secretary in charge of research and improvement in the Education Department of President George H.W. Bush and served as counsel to then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander (who is now the chairman of the Senate education committee). She was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, the chief education initiative of President George W. Bush, and was at the White House as part of a select group when Bush first outlined No Child Left Behind, a moment that at the time made her “excited and optimistic” about the future of public education.
But her opinion changed as NCLB was implemented, and she heard from teachers about the negative effects it was having on teaching and learning. She began to research the law’s effects and concluded that it had led to a serious narrowing of curriculum that reduced or eliminated science, the arts and other subjects; an obsession with test prep and testing; and plunging morale among teachers. In 2013, she formed an advocacy group called the Network for Public Education as a counter to Michelle Rhee’s then-influential StudentsFirst and like-minded organizations that were pushing the privatization of public education and test-based “accountability.”
She became a fierce critic of President Obama’s education policies and his chief education initiative, Race to the Top, which was a multi-billion-dollar competition in which states (and later districts) could win federal funds by promising to adopt controversial reforms, including the Common Core State Standards, charter schools and systems that evaluated teachers by student test scores.
Today she is a senior research scholar at New York University, and she blogs daily here.


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