About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Thompson: Why Teachers Need Ravitch & Weingarten

Flickr1Diane Ravitch's recent blog post (Why I Defend Randi)  concisely affirms principle and pragmatism. Ravitch will not attack her personal friend Randi Weingarten. She praises Randi's leadership. She reminds us of the necessity of teachers' unions, while criticizing ideological purity.
Few scholars of such national significance have shown Ravitch's capacity to think anew.  She knows what it takes to incorporate new evidence, reconsider an assumption, and engage in "reasoning to its logical conclusion." That is what Randi did when concluding that "vam is a sham." She thus demonstrates a "capacity to evolve and change her mind."
Randi's pragmatism, along with Ravitch's long view of history, could be the antidote to "the current demolition derby" known as school reform. Randi seeks to decouple Common Core from testing, says Ravitch, so that it no longer  has the "power to ruin lives and careers."
Regardless of whether Common Core is a good idea, the next step is challenging its nature as "an infallible edict encased in concrete." Regardless of the standards adopted, they "must be amended by teachers and scholars" because "No standards are so perfect that they need never be updated."
The accountability hawks may believe they are on the side of the angels, but Ravitch and Randi exemplify the spirit of scholarly dialogue in a constitutional democracy.  Teachers have been subject to such extreme abuse by the true believers in bubble-in pedagogy and governance that many educators have become as strident as our opponents.  Even so, we educators must embody the spirit of a constitutional democracy where "my opponent is my opponent, not my enemy."
I can understand why many commenters challenged Ravitch's loyalty to Randi. My favorite commenter, however, was "KrazyTA," who reminds us that edu-politics is "messy, protracted, confusing, overly long, painful, never-ending" but "that describes every great movement for positive change." The commenter recalls the great good which came from Ravitch and Deborah Meiers' discussion in Education Week's Bridging Differences blog. KrazyTA urges us to "not give up ON EACH OTHER."
Should educators, of all people, "only engage in discussion when there are guaranteed results?" the commenter asks. Such a single-mindedness is "only for those whose minds are clouded by Rheeality Distortion Fields on RheeWorld when pushing eduproducts."
KrazyTA reaffirms the spirit of Ravitch, Randi, democracy, and public education with the affirmation, "Speaking just for myself, I have confidence in the power of the ideas behind a 'better education for all.' We have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by engaging in dialogue."-JT(@drjohnthompson)Image Flickr.



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.