Education reform
Participants line up to sign a declaration of principles at a weekend education conference in Los Angeles that took on corporate-inspired education reform. (Howard Blume/Los Angeles Times / October 6, 2013)
Los Angeles was the scene last week for two events that took on corporate-style school reform, which emphasizes competition and accountability and is promulgated by many state governments and the U.S. Department of Education.
The first consisted of two L.A.-area appearances by education historian Diane Ravitch, whose new best-selling book is “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.” Ravitch spoke at Occidental College in Eagle Rock and at Cal State Northridge. Both events were packed.
Ravitch, 75, is widely seen as a leading spokeswoman for a movement that calls for collaborative school reform, which emphasizes social services for families and anti-poverty economic policies. She opposes the widespread use of standardized testing as a means to assess teachers and schools.
"There is an obsession with bad teachers," she said in Northridge. "It is destroying the teaching profession."
She defends schools as delivering better results than they are given credit for and likes to highlight abuses and scandals in the charter-school movement.
Charter schools, which are free but independently run, are popular among Los Angeles parents.
Ravitch’s critics cast her as a defender of a status quo dominated by teacher unions and other adult-