Thursday Reading – Galston & Stern

A few weeks ago Jessica Levin undressed Diane Ravitch’s new book by actually talking to the people Ravitch ascribes views to and discovering their views are more complicated than Ravitch’s caricature.  The whole argument sort of falls apart absent the strawman and in a long review out today Sol Stern shows why: This is political activism and/or show business, it’s not an intellectual exercise.   From its historically playful title to its sad kicker Stern’s review is piercing.

Elsewhere, don’t miss Bill Galston’s review of Tyler Cowen’s new book in the WSJ. Education implications.

7 Replies to “Thursday Reading – Galston & Stern”

  1. To bad Jessica didn’t read the book.

    BTW, Reign of Error is kicking “Radical” in sales and on the best selling list.
    And Diane has yet to appear on the talk show circuit, unlike Michelle Rhee.

  2. Whenever someone resorts to name-calling (Oh, it must be mental illness) you know they have lost the argument, and they know they have lost.

    Anyone who is in doubt about Diane Ravitch needs to read her chapters on solutions to our educational problems. All these solutions are research-based and have been proven to work. Just improving pre-natal care alone would be huge in terms of closing the achievement gap. Her solutions are the ones advocated and used by other advanced nations that have improved education significantly for their low income children. Diane Ravitch is a real expert and not just a clueless rich person who has ridden in on a white horse to save “those poor children.”

    Bill Gates himself has acknowledged that it will take ten years before we know if the present reforms will work. Well, a child does not have ten years to wait it out. He needs help now. Diane Ravitch has strategies that are guaranteed to help the children NOW. Let’s do it!

    The American people are not stupid. The fact that this book has rocketed to the best seller list in just a couple of weeks shows that people recognize the truth when they see it. The “reformers” had better hang on to any profits they’ve made from our public schools because I predict that the spigot will soon be turned off.

  3. “The wise man doubts often and changes his mind; the fool is obstinate and doubts not.”

  4. I remember Sol Stern writing in The Voice in defence of the actions of the Israelis in Lebanon and Beirut in 1982.
    Some would consider that great, others not so much.

  5. My first appearance in Los Angeles was at Occidental College, a beautiful campus that is now 126 years old. Beforehand, there was a reception, where I met many education leaders from Los Angeles, Pasadena, and elsewhere. But the most moving moment of all was when a woman unknown to me threw her arms around me and thanked me profusely. I was baffled, and she was crying, but then I understood that her name was Irma Cobain. She was the principal of Weigand Avenue Elementary School who had been ousted because of the efforts of Parent Revolution. She was very grateful for the support I had given her when she was under so much pressure from the people who wanted her head on a platter. At that moment, I felt that all the blogging was making a difference. What she read had lifted her spirits. She was clearly and warm, kind, empathetic person.

    How many people hug Jessica?

  6. Wednesday morning, October 9, 2013:

    The school day began and Hartford Board of Education employee Steve Perry was busy using his personal twitter account to attack his opponents. His target on this day, Diane Ravitch, the nation’s leading public education advocate.

    Perry is the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. His six figure income comes from the taxpayers of Hartford and Connecticut. In fact, considering more than two-thirds of Hartford’s school budget is funded by the state, the vast majority of Perry’s salary is courtesy of Connecticut State government.

    As usual, Perry’s diatribes are sounding increasingly unhinged and out of control.

    To Diane Ravitch (and Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers) Perry tweets… “YOU are a person who supports racist zip code laws & failed schools, no metaphors needed. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.”

    Minutes later, “YOU, the ‘historian’, are on the same side of history as the segregationists who fought to keep ppl in the hood.”

    Then “YOUR ideas are outdated & failed. It’s time for you to flip flop again. #edreform is winning so kids are winning.”

    Later in the day, Dr. Steve Perry ‏@DrStevePerry is back at it tweeting to Professor Ravitch, “YOU can’t stop a movement that has arrived to free our kids from your failed schools.” and

    “But wait, there’s more… #edreform is winning bc the truth about your support of racist policies is public,” and

    “NOTHING can hide your support of racist policies. Nothing. You fight for jobs not kids. Time to flip flop again.”

  7. One More Time: Why Isn’t Diane Ravitch On My TV?
    Pick up the dead tree version of the NY Times today, and you’ll see that Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error, has been on the bestseller list for two weeks. And it will be there next week as well.

    Michelle Rhee’s Radical never made the NY Times bestseller list – a feat Ravitch has now accomplished three times.

    And yet Michelle Rhee appeared on these prominent media outlets:

    The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
    This Week with George Stephanopoulos
    Charlie Rose
    Real Time with Bill Maher
    And many others as well. And yet Rhee’s book was an absolute commercial flop.

    Why won’t the mainstream media give Diane Ravitch even a fraction of the airtime they gave to Michelle Rhee? Are they afraid of a 70-something grandmother with a compelling argument? Do they not care about having a real discourse on American public schooling? Are the gatekeepers to the mainstream media in the thralls of the reformy status quo?
    – See more at:

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