Read This: What Diane Ravitch Did in June

"Here is my overall impression of what is happening in D.C. The federal government now controls education policy in the United States, thanks to No Child Left Behind, which caused an unprecedented expansion of federal power into every public classroom.

As you know, I believe that NCLB did not raise standards, but actually caused a dumbing-down of American education through its accountability provisions, which emphasize only basic skills. When schools are incentivized to measure only basic skills, then everything else loses time and is de-emphasized: the arts, history, geography, civics, science, foreign languages, even physical education."

From Diane Ravitch

via blogs.edweek.org

All I can say is, "Thank goodness for Diane Ravitch." To have an intelligent and well respected thinker advocating against the lunacy that is federal education policy is, in some ways, a great relief.

But considering the fact that the reception that she received from Bam, Arne and the Gang was less than receptive, my hope for positive change in public education is waning.

I voted for Bam because I wanted to see education policy change. Sadly, it's changing—but it's changing for the worse rather than for the better.

Who'd've thunk it?!

7 comments

  1. Traci Beckum

    I am a business student at Augusta State University in Augusta, Georgia. Our business communications project involves improving critical thinking skills in a local area school. We are attempting to keep this presentation limited to one or two school districts. I wanted to know if North Carolina had a pilot program before it launched the P21 partnership, and if so, what the cost of implementation was. Our goal is to convince local area educators to approach this at the state level after trying it on a pilot basis. I would appreciate your guidance in this matter.
    Thank you,
    Traci Beckum

  2. Adam

    I agree that putting technology into a classroom doesn’t transform the learning environment. Ravitch’s quotes have nothing to do with technology because 21st century skills are not about technology. Her quotes reveal that she is in favor of direct instruction over a hands-on/student-centered approach to learning. I think we need more folks advocating for approaches that will meet the needs of our learners today and not keep us grounded in strategies from the 1800’s.

  3. Tim Furman

    More power to her, at 7:30 in the video. We can’t accept her criticisms of NCLB, RTTT, privatization, and all of the market force nonsense that has hijacked ed policy discussions and simultaneously dismiss her criticism of a lot of 21st century skill rhetoric.
    It’s very possible to recognize the transformational potential of tech-enhanced education while at the same time rejecting the hype, the oversell, and the focus on job training and workforce skills. If one more person RTs the quote that “77% of all future jobs will require tech skills,” my head will explode. There’s very little discussion about how access to information and communication might actually improve the quality of our democracy and the human condition in general.
    Ravitch reads a letter from a teacher who experienced a top-down, you-will-teach-this-way directive from a project-based enthusiast in power. Been there. It only takes one reformer to suck the suck the value out of a new idea with bad management and overly broad policy implementation.
    One thing we have to confront is that there are very few visible models of people actually teaching in totally tech-transformed way and demonstrating student work that evidences some new quality of achievement. We have a lot of people talking about it, but not many actual models to look at. I know those people are out there, but it’s going to take more than simply saying at a conference, “We brought in laptops; now our kids blog and make multimedia” to ignite a real, enduring transformation. -@tbfurman

  4. sweber

    Bill:
    I always enjoy reading your blog. You post thought-provoking questions and commentaries. I have several thoughts related to your July 1st blog and the increasing role of the federal government in public schools.



    An Interview with Diane Ravitch
    (worth viewing – regardless of your political views)
    Re: Federal Role in Public Education
    I have been surprised that more news stories and teacher blogs have not followed Race to the Top funding, Common Core State Standards, and other current initiatives that have a direct impact on public schools. It appears that most people are scared to speak out against any of the current initiatives and political trends, because states are so desperate to accept funds to support education. Recently, I attended a meeting where I was told that Occupational Course of Study (OCS) students will be required to take End-of-Course (EOC) high school tests and a pilot Extend II test. The rationale for this decision was the U.S. Department of Education said this particular state must make changes. The state felt that making this change would provide it with a better chance to receive Race to the Top funds.
    Does it make sense to give a standard level test to OCS students? Does it make sense to give OCS students twice as many tests as other high school students take? Does it make sense to let Race to the Top funds drive state decisions regarding teaching, assessment and learning?
    This country is full of teacher leaders, school administrators, and universitty scholars who have conducted action research and promoted student understanding. When are we going to see a nation of educators that speaks up for acts as part of the process rather than the recipient of legislation? For your part, I can say that you do your job through your blog and ASCD articles and I commend you for your boldness.
    I am not trying to make a political statement. I am concerned that the reauthorization of ESEA is happening right before our eyes (without the proper legislation taking place). I am not opposed to national standards if it means that a student in Mississppi receives the same concepts and skills that a student in Michigan receives. Our students deserve a ‘guaranteed’ curriculum regardless of their zip code. I believe that a Constitutional Amendment should be proposed if the Federal Government is going to continue telling states how to operate education. If anyone believes that the Common Core State Standards were developed without input from Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education, they are misinformed. One reason why they are misinformed is because the media is failing to follow this important story.
    Additional Resources Related to the Federal Government’s Increasing Role in Public Schools:
    http://ascd.typepad.com/blog/2010/07/the-missing-ink-on-the-common-core.html
    http://www.k12curriculumdevelopment.com/common-core-standards.html
    For the past year, this site followed the development of the Common Core State Standards.