I just purchased Diane’s Ravitch’s newest book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (on my Kindle, of course). Reading the first chapter is like hearing a confession; intriguing, captivating, and leaving you wanting to hear all the gory and sexy details.
For those of you who do not know Diane Ravitch, start here. But if you have read her, you may be surprised now. She has rescinded her previous stands on testing, standards, and choice. Her newest book explains who she no longer can support the ridiculousness of the accountability movement, the folly that charter schools and competition in education will produce better schools, or the tests-make-best thinking. This turn has angered some – especially those who have been affected by Ravitch’s previous writings and political wranglings.
Think on this line from chapter one
School reformers sometimes resemble the characters in Dr. Seuss’s Solla Sollew, who are always searching for that mythical land `where they never have troubles, at least very few.’ Or like Dumbo, they are convinced they could fly if only they had a magic feather. In my writings, I have consistently warned that, in education, there are no shortcuts, no utopias, and no silver bullets. For certain, there are no magic feathers that enable elephants to fly.
Magic feather like those offered by Wiggins or others of his ilk? Shortcuts like modeling schools after businesses? Yes. And I shall discover more as I delve deeper into her confession. But what is already saddened me is that by the end of chapter one, you already know and realize that the federal government and state government (at least here in NJ) is going the wrong way; testing, choice, centralization, and national standards are the tone and focus.
To keep things fresh on the blog, I’ll try to post weekly and purge the details of Ravitch’s epiphanies. But for now, if you can, get the book. I assure you that every page deserves another turn.