Diane Ravitch, long time proponent of choice, accountability, performance pay, and reform and an education advisor to a Republican and a Democratic president, has undergone a remarkable Renaissance.A A Over the 4th of July, she received the NEA Friend of Education award and a rousing welcome at NEA RA in New Orleans.
Much of this Renaissance is explained in her newest book, aThe Death and Life of the Great American School System:A A How Testing and Choice are undermining Education.aA A In this book she raises some interesting concerns:
- The aextent to which it is appropriate for a mega-rich foundation to take charge of reforming public schools, even though it is accountable to no one and elected by no one.a
- The fact that the afederal government is prohibited by law from imposing any curriculum on states or school districts.a
- The fact that this reform means different things to different parties, eg. aDemocrats saw an opportunity to reinvent governmenta and aRepublicans (saw) a chance to diminish the power of teachersa unionsa|a (Remember she worked for Pres. George H. W. Bush)
- Revealing the sources of her concerns: aI concluded that curriculum and instruction were far more important than choice and accountabilitya
- aa|choice would let thousands of flowers bloom but would not strengthen American education.a
- aa| focus on the essentials of education..aA 1) schools with strong coherent explicit curriculum that is grounded in the liberal arts and science; 2) plenty of opportunity for children to engage in activities and projects that make learning lively; 3) ensuring that students have the knowledge they need to understand political debates, scientific phenomena, and the world they live in; 4) be sure they are prepared for the responsibilities of democratic citizenship in a complex society.
- aWe must take care that our teachers are well educated, and not just well trained.
- aWe must be sure that schools have the authority to maintain both standards of learning and standards of behavior.a
WEA Republican Educators Caucus invites your comments and responses to Dr. Ravitchas concerns.