Reform: Ravitch Critique Lacks Humility, Political Savvy
For a long time I was focused on how Diane Ravitch -- whom I like and admire -- had switched sides without anyone noticing until her book came out. It just amazed me that her positions had evolved so dramatically but no one noticed until book time, and frankly made me sort of skeptical about her changed views. (Ditto for Ravitch's seeming lack of sufficient humility about having been so "wrong" for so long. Now all of a sudden she was right and everyone else was wrong.) These days, I'm mostly focused on the striking lack of political thinking Ravitch is showing. Maybe that was never her strong suit, but in article after article (see this Q and A with Valerie Strauss) she seems to think that some sort of light switch is going to to go off if she keeps saying the same thing over and over again. Who knows - she may be right. But it would be a lot more helpful -- and persuasive -- to me if she had some viable ideas about how the public and politicians should proceed without undercutting support for public education. Confidence in the current system is low enough that politicos on both sides champion changes that may or may not work. I don't see how, barring a massive testing scandal, reformers step away from accountability -- flawed as it obviously is. Ditto for charters and choice. And I'm not sure where the new money for education would come from if it wasn't attached to "new" ideas. Do Ravitch et al really prefer a world in which testing and charters are de-emphasized, but public spending on education is flat or even declines? Does she even consider it her job to reflect on how to affect the political and other forces that got us where we are, or is she just Wellstone/Kozoling?