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Media: Where's Ravitch's Research?

ScreenHunter_05 Jul. 02 10.24I like to go over to Diane Ravitch's blog to see what the former Bush administration official and private school professor and her acolytes are saying.

I'm usually well rewarded for my visits with uninformed entries and comments -- and angry responses when I provide a reality check or different point of view. 

The lack of reflection and intellectual honesty over there can be pretty stunning. 

Take, for example, Ravitch's June 30 post touting a Guardian story about a school closing in Chicago, which Ravitch uses as a jumping-off point to decry the lack of adequate coverage of the closings and budget cuts in Chicago from mainstream media (Chicago Schools Get Good Coverage in UK, Not in Chicago):

"Why is it that a magazine in the U.K. portrays the plight of some 40,000 mostly minority children in Chicago with more understanding and sympathy than the Chicago press?"

Ravitch often claims that school reformers don't do their research. But it in cases like this it seems like she doesn't have time or inclination to do any of her own looking around before she weighs in on on whatever idea or preconceived notion she might want to share -- and her followers and fellow reform critics fall remarkably (if somewhat dishonorably) silent - perhaps for fear of offending her or derailing their efforts or repeating the infighting that decimated Parents Across America.

Being somewhat familiar with Chicago and its media coverage of the last year's school closings, I can attest to the fact that the coverage has been anything but skimpy.  I do a daily roundup of media coverage for my Chicago schools blog, and it's been pretty much 24/7 the past several months.

Don't want to take my word for it?  As you can see from the links below, Chicago Public Radio's education team has been recognized for its excellent work over the past year, and This American Life's Ira Glass recently collaborated with WBEZ reporters for its in-depth look at the poverty and violence surrounding some Chicago high schools, and the hard-working educators inside them.  The Chicago Sun-Times' editorial page writer Kate Grossman writes well-researched, nuanced commentary that calls both the union and the School Board to task. 

The kicker?  The story Ravitch touts, about the plight of Mahalia Jackson, omits the ending.  The school was granted a last-minute reprieve from being closed.  

I've got no shortage of complaints about the media. Ditto re school reform efforts.  But unresearched, broad-based attacks like this one serve no other purpose than to scare and anger educators and parents-- to manipulate them, basically.  

In this regard, Ravitch is no better than reform advocates who attempt to cherry-pick the data in order to advance their cause.  I suspect Ravitch has made her peace with playing this role -- it sells books and wins her more followers. But that doesn't mean that we have to accept it.

Previous posts: Education Reporters Win Lotsa Public Radio Awards"This American Life" At Chicago's Harper High SchoolTwo Great Education Writers You May Not Know About

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Diane Ravitch is 4,000,000 hits and counting. She is one of the main conduits through which the public is now seeing through the "reformers" disingenuous bull.

Local special ed advocate Rod Estvan describes @dianeravitch post as "problematic" http://ow.ly/mANSV

What's funny is that Julian Vasquez Heilig, a putative scholar, is such a sycophant for a non-scholar like Ravitch. Why anyone would publish or read Heilig's scholarship is beyond reckoning.

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