Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Education historian Diane Ravitch criticizes testing, says poverty hurts student success

Ravitch was in Detroit recently, with the same talking points:

Noted education historian Diane Ravitch today criticized a current emphasis on testing in U.S. schools, saying "we live in a time of national insanity," during a day-long symposium on education reform in Novi.

Ravitch had a welcome audience, getting a standing ovation before and after she spoke at the conference co-sponsored by the Michigan Education Association, the state's largest union that represents school employees, including teachers.

She said national policy makers say they want to reform education.

But, what they're really doing "is tearing education apart and demonizing teachers."

She alluded to Detroit as she talked about districts that are eliminating programs, laying off thousands of teachers, getting rid of art education and increasing class sizes, saying it's kids in Detroit "who need much smaller classes."

A friend who sent me this article wrote:


Ok, so usually I just enjoy the Ravitch stuff you post, but now she's in my hometown. I don't know her well at all, but she has no idea what Detroit children need and I think that it's really problematic when folks like her won't tackle what happens in the classroom and leverage poverty as the primary reason children of color are lagging behind their peers.  Black people have fought far too long and too hard in this country to be educated – we are the only people that can literally lay claim that in the face of death – a determination to be literate by "sneaking" to read.


When Ravitch and other liberals take such an absurd position on the educability of black children it compromises the real debate which should be about quality education and building community assets – not having classroom educators fix poverty. Black educators have always taught around deficits and built institutions that still exist to serve those considered uneducable – Tuskegee, Bethune-Cookman…. For far too long, Ravitch and others, especially in New York, have essentially blamed children and families for their poor classroom outcomes and while I don't agree in entirety with the education reform debate- especially the blinding absence of women of color as leaders – we have to stop this poverty is the primary reason children of color lag behind.


Our country's history  does not bear this truth – the black community has produced strong, thought leaders – hell, I was born on the eastside of Detroit to two teenagers who were pushed out of school and it was my neighborhood public school educators that helped raise my parents as parents and me as a learner. Enough with the poverty benchmark – just teach and if you can't then damn let someone else try – childhood is too finite a period to stay fixed on one answer. Besides, good schools work to meet the needs of families by developing relationships with community institutions so that children are more stable and likely to engage in school.


When something does not work for middle class parents we move on to another solution – why don't we afford low-income and working class parents that same freedom? 


Education historian Diane Ravitch criticizes testing, says poverty hurts student success

4:40 PM, Mar. 7, 2011  ||newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

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