Diane Ravitch, the education historian who built her intellectual reputation battling progressive educators and served in the first Bush administration’s Education Department, is in the final stages of an astonishing, slow-motion about-face on almost every stand she once took on American schooling.The lesson here, I think, is that there is no easy route to better schools. The most important factors in how much children learn remain, 1) their parents, and 2) their teachers. As I wrote last month, it is increasingly clear that putting good teachers in the classroom matters more than anything else schools can do. The countries with the best educational systems are the ones where parents care the most, and governments work the hardest to recruit excellent teachers.
Once outspoken about the power of standardized testing, charter schools and free markets to improve schools, Dr. Ravitch is now caustically critical. She underwent an intellectual crisis, she says, discovering that these strategies, which she now calls faddish trends, were undermining public education. She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups. . . .
Among the topics on which Dr. Ravitch has reversed her views is the main federal law on public schools, No Child Left Behind, which is up for a rewrite in coming weeks in Congress. She once supported it, but now says its requirements for testing in math and reading have squeezed vital subjects like history and art out of classrooms. . . .
“Standards, in many places, have proven nebulous and low,” he writes in a coming essay. “ ‘Accountability’ has turned to test-cramming and bean-counting, often limited to basic reading and math skills.”
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Diane Ravitch Changes her Mind
The NY Times: