Andrew Delbanco At The NY Times Review Of Books: ‘The Two Faces Of American Education’

Full piece here.

Delbanco sets up a dichotomy between long-time education reformer Diane Ravitch, who’s drifting into a rather closed defense of public-schooling as is, and Michelle Rhee, who led the charge against the status quo in Washington D.C. schools and ran into a lot of problems:

‘Perhaps a starting point would be to acknowledge, as Ravitch does, that the golden age of master teachers and model children never existed, and, as Rhee insists, that the bureaucracy of our schools is wary of change. One thing that certainly won’t help our children is any ideology convinced of its exclusive possession of the truth.’

Worth a read.

Readers of this blog will know I tend to favor non-union, non-collectivist reform of public schooling, despite the fact that charter schools are clearly no magic bullet.

I reserve the right to view even the most dedicated school-reformers, pragmatist-inspired defenders of the common good, and crusaders for the public interest with a skeptical eye, while simultaneously recognizing that they are the ones trying to tackle many of the fundamental problems our society faces in terms of education and opportunity.

I don’t believe education fits under Milton Friedman’s intellectual net, but I like seeing how he comes at the problems of scarcity of resources, students failed by the system, and entrenched educators.  As teachers will tell you, many parents simply aren’t involved, and abdicate their responsibilities to their children, the schools, and everyone else…money can be a good way to keep people accountable who run the system, but the rational incentive model of money and the freedom to choose with kids leaves a lot to be desired:

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Also On This Site:  Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’

Two Links On Diane Ravitch & School Reform

Sol Stern At The City Journal, a proponent of school reform, charges that Ravitch is no longer resisting the call of solidarity with the Left’s collectivism in her attacks on Common Core.

Full piece here:

‘After Ravitch’s many years of intellectual zigzagging, it’s a travesty that she has ended up in solidarity with the destructive radicals of the education Left.  For poor kids, it’s a tragedy. ‘

Think of the (C)hildren!

Is education a debate to be had entirely on the socialism/capitalism axis, with Ravitch finally succumbing to the anti-capitalist, collectivist, 60’s Left, rather than a more liberal-minded independence?

A better question to start might be: What kind of data are we seeing as to actual charter-school performance?

Sara Mosle At the Atlantic has ‘The Architect Of School Reform Who Turned Against It?:’

‘If the reform movement hopes to retain the public’s trust, insisting that reputable charters expel their for-profit brethren is a sensible place to start. Ravitch also argues convincingly that charters should accept a fairer share of the toughest-to-educate students. For her part, Ravitch might lead her own followers to recognize that the desire to improve teacher quality isn’t tantamount to teacher-bashing.

“If my child were in a school where he was not learning,” Ravitch wrote in the not-too-distant past, “I would not wait for a gathering of social scientists to tell me whether it was okay for me to put him in another school.” A reform movement convulsed by extremism shouldn’t hinder parents, or children, either. If only Ravitch, too, would dedicate her zeal to a less divisive vision.’

Are charter schools cherry-picking the better students? Must any institution be held to the same standard as the poorly functioning public schools, which operate in areas of high violence, dysfunction, broken families and high illiteracy?

Ravitch’s site here.   An article of hers from Bill Moyers’ site:

‘Over the past four years, I have learned what we need to do. First, we must end the pressure on teachers to teach to the test…

Federal, top-down solutions aren’t working well and there’s plenty of overreach, but clearly you want some accountability:

Second, we must strengthen and improve our public schools. We must end all efforts to privatize them. I am firmly opposed to vouchers.’

So, business as usual, then?

Clearly, if you support equality of opportunity at some level in education, you want the people with social capital, strong families, time & money to voluntarily invest in a vision of education that also promotes and protects their interests.

It doesn’t look to me like Ravitch is providing anything near such a vision at the moment, or if so, it’s a rather run-of-the-mill liberal, ‘pure’ democracy, let’s all put all shoulders to the wheel vision.

uploaded by mattbucher

Also On This Site:  Diane Ravitch At Education Week: ‘Why Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty Lost’

From Reason.Tv: ‘NBC’s Education Summit-Joe Trippi, Michelle Rhee & More’From The Washington Post: ‘D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee To Announce Resignation Wednesday’

Rhee stated much the same here:  She didn’t with the people who I are most involved…Michelle Rhee At Newsweek: “What I’ve Learned”Repost-’Too Much “Quality Control” In Universities?’

Robert Samuelson Via Real Clear Politics: ‘Why School Reform Fails’From The Bellevue Reporter-Walter Backstrom’s: ‘Educational Progress And The Liberal Plantation’