More Chapter Headings: Proposed Solutions from Diane Ravitch

Here are the headings for chapters 22 –  32 of Diane Ravitch’s new book (published today), entitled Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.

This is the section of the book where she lays out what to do instead of doubling down on the failed ‘reforms’ promoted by the billionaire class.

22. Begin at the Beginning

Solution No. 1: Provide good prenatal care for every pregnant woman.

23. The Early Years Count

Solution No. 2: Make high-quality early-childhood education available to all children.

24. The Essentials of a Good Education

Solution No. 3: Every school should have a full, balanced and rich curriculum, including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, geography, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education.

25. Class Size Matters for Teaching and Learning.

Solution No. 4: Reduce class sizes to improve student achievement and behavior.

26. Make Charters Work for All

Solution No. 5: Ban for-profit charters and charger chains and ensure that charter schools collaborate with public schools to support better education for all children.

27. Wraparound Services Make a Difference

Solution No. 6: Provide the medical and social services that poor children need to keep up with their advantaged peers.

28. Measure Knowledge and Skills with Care

Solution No. 7: Eliminate high-stakes standardized testing and rely instead on assessments that allow students to demonstrate what they know and can do.

29. Strengthen the Profession

Solution No. 8: Insist that teaches, principals and superintendents be professional educators.

30. Protect Democratic Control of Public Schools

Solution No. 9: Public schools should be controlled by elected school boards or by boards in large cities appointed for a set term for more than one elected official.

31. The Toxic Mix

Solution No. 10: Devise actionable strategies and specific goals to reduce racial segregation and poverty.

32. Privatization of Public Education is Wrong

Solution No. 11: Recognize that public education is a public responsibility, not a consumer good.

Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 1:31 pm  Comments (3)  

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  1. […] for many years. He also has a star turn in “Reign of Error.” Here is his review And here is part […]


  2. Diane Ravitch makes some very good – some absolutely compelling points –– in her new book.  She notes rightly, that NAEP scores are up. Disaggregated reading scores on international tests (PISA 2009, for example) are impressive too, except for poorer students.  Ravitch notes that we need to tend better –– academically and through the social safety net –– to students in poverty, and this is a critical point.  Ravitch also notes the A Nation at Risk was dangerous hype.  

     But she leaves out a lot too
    The central theme of A Nation at Risk was that a “rising tide of mediocrity” threatened American national security and “economic competitiveness,” but there was no truth to the claim.
    The Sandia Report (Journal of Educational Research, May/June, 1993), published in the wake of A Nation at Risk, examined carefully its specific claims.  The Sandia researchers concluded that:

    *  “..on nearly every measure we found steady or slightly improving trends.”

    *  “youth today [the 1980s] are choosing natural science and engineering degrees at a higher rate than their peers of the 1960s.”

    *  “average performance of ‘traditional’ test takes on the SAT has actually improved over 30 points since 1975…”

    *  “Although it is true that the average SAT score has been declining since the sixties, the reason for the decline is not decreasing student performance.  We found that the decline arises from the fact that more students in the bottom half of the class are taking the SAT than in years past…More people in America are aspiring to achieve a college education…so the national SAT average is lowered as more students in the 3rd and 4th quartiles of their high school classes take the test.  This phenomenon, known as Simpson’s paradox, sows that an average can change in a direction opposite from all subgroups if the proportion of the total represented by the subgroups changes.”

    *  “business leaders surveyed are generally satisfied with the skill levels of their employees, and the problems that do exist do not appear to point to the k-12 education system as a root cause.”

    *  “The student performance data clearly indicate that today’s youth are achieving levels of education at least as high as any previous generation.”

    The allegations are, that while at the DOE, Ravitch helped to suppress the Sandia report. See, for example:

    And, a few years later she was brought into Virginia as an expert to give blessing to conservative governor George Allen’s new standards and testing regimen.  Allen was a favorite of the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) even then. See:

    Yes, she’s changed.  And she’s helping to make the case against corporate-style “reform.”  But simultaneously, she’s championing STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, which is as mythic as the claim that public education is in”crisis,” and which is also very much a part of corporate-style “reform.”  Sort of like telling a dog to “sit” and “fetch” at the same time.
    And she’s touting the College Board’s Advanced Placement courses, yet the College Board is tied in tightly with the Common Core standards (funded by Bill Gates) and corporate “reform.”  Worse, the research on AP shows unequivocally that it is not “better” than regular college-preparatory courses. As Klopfenstein and Thomas (2010) note, when demographic characteristics are controlled for, the claims made for AP disappear.

    Ravitch is right to call out the corporate “reformers,” but she cannot talk out of both sides of her mouth.

    She can’t have it both ways. Because, ultimately, if you favor Advanced Placement (and other College Board products), and STEM, then you’re for corporate-style “reform” too.


  3. I recently saw a documentary film, “Go Public: A Day in the Life of an American School District,” that is like the slingshot in the ongoing war over public education. This scrappy documentary celebrates public schools without ignoring its problems. It is an antidote to misleading films like “ Waiting for Superman ” and “Won’t Back Down ,” which view traditional public schools as failures and charter schools and corporate-oriented “privatization” as the solution to what ails public education.


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