Monday, September 16, 2013
Today, Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error came out. Her newest book claims to explore the hoax of privatization and the danger that America's public schools are facing. Sadly, Diane's new book is just another misguided screed aimed at the hedge fund managers and education reformers who seem to be the only people who still care about our country's children.
While I didn't actually read Ravitch's book, I think I've gotten a pretty good feeling for what it's about by reading the cover which is widely displayed on line and several negative comments from people I admire for their no excuses approach to education reform and this unfortunately, is where Ravitch comes up short.
Ravitch's very title suggests that privatization is a threat to our nation's public schools. However, to believe that you'd have to believe in crazy conspiracy theories like the somehow the 50 neighborhood schools in Chicago closed this Summer are related to the 50 charter schools that the Chicago Public Schools wants to open up. It seems to me that if privatizers were going to threaten our public schools, we wouldn't be pushing to close them down.
Ravitch is guilty of cherry picking her data and she often ignores push pulls conducted by pro charter school organizations. She never mentions that if 83% of character schools are scoring at or below their neighborhood school peers, than 17% must be scoring better.
Finally, Ravitch's view of history is revisionist. She badmouths the 1983 Nation at Risk study, where many people first found out that neighborhood schools were no longer the quality education options parents hoped they would be. Our only hope of change is when everybody can get on the same page and try and return our school system to the greatness it had at some other time. Michelle Rhee likes to say, "this will be the first generation in America that will not be as well educated as their parents" and though she never really says what that means, I know in my heart that it's true. I wish that Ravitch would get this.