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16 Replies to “To The Point”
The real error Jessica Levin has made throughout her article–from beginning to end–is making inferential claims of objectivity while playing for the reformer team.
“Ravitch claims all education reformers are bent on promoting privatization, vouchers, and for-profit schools.”
Really? “All”? Come on, Levin, now you’re just playing a rhetorical game.
“a new generation of college graduates deeply committed to social justice and educational equity was figuring it out on the ground.”
And they did bravely go forth and did slay many dragons blah, blah, blah.
“Their” biggest “misstep” wasn’t being naive, it was being wrong. Wrong about nearly everything, starting with “their” diagnosis of the problem. And why are solutions to difficult problems to be found in the middle? That’s the oldest and lamest excuse for not thinking through a problem ever invented. It’s just intellectual laziness.
And yet from the get go, she gets it majorly wrong:
I meant to select just this paragraph:
The reality is the vast majority of this current generation of education leaders, many who began teaching in our highest-poverty schools in the early to mid-1990s through the Teach For America program, have never embraced this agenda.
We’ve had over fifty years of consistent research on how children become high achievers. We know what to do, but have not had the will to do it. Prof. Ravitch reminds us that these research-based interventions still need to be applied. When we decide to apply what we know, we’ll begin to see the improvements that we all say we want. A “middle ground” would mean moving away from strategies that work. Also, many of us see “smoke and mirrors” and just plain fraud in much of the current “reform.” Obviously, we can’t accept any of that.
Right on, Jeffrey (John Carlos and Tommy Smith style)
Of course, one remedy recommended by Diane Ravitch is the same one endorsed by the owner of this blog.
His children attend an elementary school where class size is capped at 20 and there are two teachers in each classroom
I’m convinced that Linda and Phillip are just online personas, and that Ravitch writes both of their comments.
Thank you, Sybil! What a nice compliment! I’m actually just a little old granny who has never met Diane Ravitch. But like her, I’m a huge supporter of public education. Also, I’m convinced that if we are to see an improvement in education, we must heed the research and respond to it. I agree with Prof. Ravitch that we need improvements in prenatal care, early infant care, high-quality preschool, class sizes, highly qualified teachers and, of course, an improvement in the child poverty rate. These are all research-based strategies and it’s time to apply them.
Although I am sympathetic to Ravitch’s critique of the so-called reformers, I do think that, in seeking to defend public education and make the point that US schools actually are doing better than most people think, she has gone a bit far in minimizing real problems that we have in today’s schools. Otherwise I am happy she is a voice taking on the reformers and some of their assumptions.
I think that Jessica Levin sort of misses a key point about the reformers. In my experience, many TFAers and so-called reformers might be characterized as the following: individuals who are actually genuinely committed to the progressive goal of closing educational achievement gaps–I actually believe their commitments are genuine and don’t quite believe in a conspiracy to privatize education per se– but actually hold what are deeply conservative views and assumptions about human nature and society. This leads them to discount the role that societal structures and environmental factors (such as structural inequality) play in outcomes and to emphasize the role of individuals. In many ways, their world view is much like those of businesspeople who assume that America is a meritocracy and that individuals rise or fall based on their merits, not factoring in the role of circumstance, privilege, social location, and just plain luck in explaining some outcomes. This is why they adopt “No Excuses” as their mantra, since they assume that failure to achieve results is simply a function of individuals making excuses. And it is also why they have sometimes made common cause with business leaders who actually don’t share the same commitment to public education.
Read whole thing, as per your instructions. I’m not at all sure Levin read Ravitch’s book, but I suppose she may have read some other book at some point in time.
Sorry to disappoint you Sybil.
With what she puts out on her own website, Diane doesn’t have time to respond here on Andy’s.
Nor has she quite demonstrated this: “He is a talented, despicable writer who enjoys vicious teasing as a kind of journalistic blood sport,”
Yes, Cat, that’s a big part of it.
When some of us talk about the business or corporatist models and interests in public education we do mean that triumphal mindset that suggests perceived failures are caused by ineffective/lazy teachers. We also mean the rise of non-profits staffed by 2 year TFAers and fueled by hedge funds and Wall Street interests. Go back to this blog on Sep 16 and take a look at that job announcement. Looks nice enough. Rich people giving back. Right. Here’s some of what they get for their investment dollars errr, donations:
“Advantages of a corporate advised fund include:
Easily suggest grants outside the United States. We are experts in international giving.
Ability to outsource all or part of your corporate philanthropy program.
No legal liability. The community foundation remains in full compliance with state and federal regulations as they relate to grants and contributions.
Name your corporate advised fund and issue grants in the company’s name or anonymously.
Maximum allowable tax advantages for donations.
Ability to donate a wide range of irrevocable charitable donations including cash, appreciated stock, pre-IPO stock, real estate and other assets.
No federal excise tax on the investment income, like with a private foundation.
No minimum annual payout requirement, unlike a private foundation.
No separate tax return, unlike a private foundation.”
And, with folks and influencers like Gates with a TON of money, some things get funded and other things do not. The end result is a gradual shift towards a certain kind of reform that emphasizes the values and perceptions of the moneyed interests and less people like Ravitch and scientific research in general.
And the one group almost never represented in any of this reform or in any of these non-profits are the very people who should be invited–teachers.
Here’s the point Andy and Jessica should get:
Just another day in deception and lying by the Professional Education Reform Movement.
Colorado Rep Jared Polis called Diane Ravitch “evil”
And Andy is silent.
Thankfully, reporters are now investigating these test scores and not just reporting them without question. The truth is coming out, just as I always knew it would.
” A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Mark Twain
More on Polis:
For me the final straw was when in the most recent email he told me he would apologize for calling her evil when she stopped being evil.
TeacherKen, NBCT, Agnes Meyer TOtY.
The thing about Diane Ravitch is that she worked under the Bush administration helping to push systemic standards based reform, which is the direct antecedent of the “corporate” reform models seen currently. I find it hard to believe that someone who is a trained historian can go from one pole to the other without having a motive– sometimes it pays to be a polemic.
Is there a third way that recognizes both structural and systemic factors? It is true that many students come from disadvantaged backgrounds and that this is correlated with achievement– but there are also many levers we can influence inside of schools. Arguing either extreme is just silly.