Reign of Error: the important new book by Diane Ravitch

by teacherken, Daily Kos, 9/15/13

The testing, accountability, and choice strategies offer the illusion of change while changing nothing. They mask the inequity and injustice that are now so apparent in our social order. They do nothing to alter the status quo. They preserve the status quo. They are the status quo.

Those words appear on p. 225 of Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, the new book by Diane Ravitch. The words are a summary of what has been wrong with recent educationl They appear in Chapter 21, titled “Solutions: Start Here” which is where Ravitch begins to offer a different vision for how to improve public education.

Ravitch’s last, blockbuster, book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education thoroughly exposed the emptiness of the so-called reform movement and what it is doing to American education, as I noted in this review.

While the first part of this new volume, officially published on September 17, Constitution Day, revisits the problems with the approaches of the “reformers” and adds to what she had previously written, this volume has a different purpose. As Ravitch begins in her introduction, on p. xi:

The purpose of this book is to answer four questions.

First, is American education in crisis?
Second, is American education failing and declining?
Third, what is the evidence pf the reforms now being promoted by the federal government, and adopted in many states?
Fourth, what should we do to improve our schools and the lives of children?

I believe that Diane Ravitch is uniquely qualified to answer those questions. First, she is America’s foremost educational historian. Second, having served on the National Assessment Governing Board (which oversees that National Assessment of Education Progress, often called America’s education report card), she is well-positioned to explain what the data from NAEP really means, which is not how it is (mis)used by many of the “reformers.” Further, she writes clearly, enabling the non-technical reader, the person who not a professional in education or policy or statistics, to understand what the data means. As a careful scholar, she provides copious citations. …

Read all and see links at Daily Kos


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