Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Being for Public Schools

In 2005 former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch wrote, "We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."

In 2009 Ravitch has changed her mind. "I was known as a conservative advocate of many of these policies," Ravitch says. "But I've looked at the evidence and I've concluded they're wrong. They've put us on the wrong track. I feel passionately about the improvement of public education and I don't think any of this is going to improve public education."

Ravitch appeared on NPR today.

Ravitch believes that No Child Left Behind "misuses standardized testing."

"The basic strategy is measuring and punishing. And it turns out as a result of putting so much emphasis on the test scores, there's a lot of cheating going on, there's a lot of gaming the system. Instead of raising standards it's actually lowered standards because many states have 'dumbed down' their tests or changed the scoring of their tests to say that more kids are passing than actually are."

Ravitch opposes charter schools, as they take money away from public schools and have not been proven to be any better largely. She also opposes competition within education.

"There should not be an education marketplace, there should not be competition," Ravitch says. "Schools operate fundamentally — or should operate — like families. The fundamental principle by which education proceeds is collaboration. Teachers are supposed to share what works; schools are supposed to get together and talk about what's [been successful] for them. They're not supposed to hide their trade secrets and have a survival of the fittest competition with the school down the block."

I agree with Ravitch point by point.


mrs. miss alaineus said...

the 'school-as-family' approach and sharing what works is the principle on which my school operates but we still also put way too much emphasis on the two weeks of testing done every fall. let's face it- once you get out of high school, very few people ask about your test scores.


Judith Ellis said...

"let's face it- once you get out of high school, very few people ask about your test scores."

This made me laugh aloud but it is so very true. I also believe in tests. I think that they are important as an indicator of comprehension, needless to say, and as a means of getting a body of students from point a to point b. How we do this seems to be what matters most. Happy to have your comment, alaina. I follow your experiences in the classroom via your blog. You are such a good teacher. Thank you for that. I also often laugh aloud as I did with your last two emails regarding your unsolicited recruitment in the Republican party. Your responses were so very funny, not to mention that theirs were totally ridiculous. LOL!

Cinda said...

I was listening to the interview with Ms. Ravitch while driving to a school where I have a practicum student. The kids at this high school will never pass any state or national test but if we can keep them in school they might get a job with some training involved. I wrote my last post with Ms. Ravitch on my mind. We are on the same track it seems! Thank you!

Judith Ellis said...

Cinda - It good to see you and I like it when you comment. I so admire the work you do with your students and the love you have for your daughter. Yes, we seem to be often on the same track--for sure! I'll pop over to your blog.

septembermom said...

I strongly agree that there should not be an education marketplace. Democracy in education should really be a right for all. I see how getting the right teacher seems to be the luck of the draw. How often do I see that my children are given a passive teacher who just tows the line. When they get a teacher who is engaged and enthusiastic about his/her subject matter, it is exciting to see the instant light of recognition and possibility that starts to sparkle in the students' eyes. I love teachers. I think they are such a precious gift to all that they touch. I do worry that many of our country's students are becoming robots in the classroom. They do what they need to get through the test, finish the assignment, but so few are pushing themselves to stretch their ready minds to continually explore the immense stores of knowledge available in this world. I do worry about our country's kids. When I talk to some kids, I can tell that they are indifferent about education. That scares me.

Judith Ellis said...

Kelly - Thank you for these words. They matter.I know how active you are in your kids' schools and know that you have first-hand knowledge. Blessings to you for the work you do, my dear friend.