An interview with Diane Ravitch

Dr. Diane Ravitch

Dr. Diane Ravitch is a polarizing figure in the education world. From 1991-1993, Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education in President George H.W. Bush’s administration. Originally a strong proponent of school choice, vouchers and high-stakes testing, her views have changed considerably. She argues for her change of heart and in her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

It was recently announced that Dr. Ravitch will receive NEA’s 2010 Friend of Education Award. CEA recently interviewed Dr. Ravitch about the role of teaching and learning in the age of accountability.

Let’s say you were to walk into an elementary classroom in any school district ten years from now. If we stay on the present course set by NCLB, how will teaching and learning be different?

I think that there will be a great deal of drilling and teaching to the test. Most of the day will be spent on reading and mathematics. Kids will be encouraged to take lots and lots of test prep. This is happening now and I don’t see any change in the foreseeable future. The secretary has said that 100 percent of all kids should be proficient. There doesn’t seem to be an end date where this regime will conclude in victory. Now that so many states are tying teacher evaluation to test scores, it is predictable that we will have a system in which testing of basic skills is the basic purpose of education.

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Ohio Charter Students Outperformed By Traditional Public Schools, Says Report

cover2_smA recently released report from researchers at Stanford University seriously questions the amount of learning imparted to Ohio’s charter school students. The report, released by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) is titledMultiple Choice: Charter School Performance in 16 States. It contains a longitudinal, student-level data analysis that covers more than 70 percent of the nation’s students that attend charter schools, including Ohio. Multiple Choice includes over 1.7 million records from more than 2400 charter schools.

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Bus Drivers, Custodians, Maintenance Workers All Fired.

Image courtesy Michigan Education Association.The Southfield Board of Education in East Lansing, Michigan voted recently to place pink slips in the mailboxes of all of the district’s bus drivers, aides, maintenance workers and custodians– over 350 union jobs in total.

The district isn’t leaving those positions unfilled, however. In the same vote, they decided to privatize those jobs, outsourcing them to two for-profit school service companies.

The Michigan Education Association’s affiliate that represented the employees (SMESPA) presented a package to the board that would have cut costs to the district by approximately $18 million over the three years of the pact and created cost-sharing between the union and the district. Despite this extremely generous offer, the school board still voted 5-2 against the proposal.

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