Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Prominent Anti-Education Reformer, Diane Ravtich, Blocks Me on Twitter

This story, from a Princeton student who is a member of Students for Ed Reform, tells you all you need to know about Ravitch.  Blocking a student who challenges your views – ya can't make this stuff up!


Diane Ravitch, an education historian and prominent teachers' union advocate, had been prolifically tweeting long before Rhee or I even discovered the blue bird. Following Ravitch has been an exercise in anger management, and is likely inadvisable to education reformers who are not in good health. Whenever I felt particularly bold, and a claim of hers particularly unfair, I would foray into the conversation and respond to one of her tweets. Understandably, most of these went unacknowledged—the woman does have over 8,000 followers, after all. Yet there is one tweeting habit of hers that it would be unfair to ignore: every once in a while, she tweets back.

I have written more than I would like about my frustrations with Ravitch and her advocacy, and was certain I could adjust my reform-focus elsewhere. This was until I made a recent discovery that gave my experience with Rhee as a number-one-Twitter-event a run for its money. Diane Ravitch blocked me. Still free to include her in my tweets (she will still get notifications if I do this), still free to access her tweets, I am simply no longer able to "follow" her such that her messages come directly to my news feed.

It is a sad day for teachers' unions- and all that Diane Ravitch espouses- when the ideas and arguments contained in that advocacy are so fragile that the mere instantaneous exposure of their 140 character iterations to a curious undergraduate, is a threatening event. Indeed, it is a sad day for the entire education reform conversation when a major voice expresses such disinterest in there being much of a conversation at all. Ravitch writes books advancing her ideology, and travels the nation giving keynote addresses to crowds of teachers. Any questions about her intention were answered in my mind the moment she demonstrated even her short, social media musings were really only meant for those that already agreed with her.

It's important to take a look at the specific conversations we had that seemed to precipitate her decision to disallow me as a Twitter follower of hers. One of our more recent conversations (reproduced below) began when Congressman Jared Polis challenged Ravitch's claim about charter schools as "fads." I tried very hard to find common ground on the need for "holistic evaluations" of schools not simply based on test scores, and solicited her thoughts on what factors might need to be included in her estimation. Apparently, however, her expertise as an historian means she "doesn't do evaluations"—she just criticizes them. Then, when presented with an example of schools (a KIPP charter school network, nonetheless) that were using holistic evaluations, she promptly left the conversation.

Our final conversation (also reproduced below) further illustrates Ravitch's propensity to speak in broad binaries that create an unproductive us-versus-them mentality (at one point claiming to "side with David, not Goliath" and calling on me to pick a side; the fact that unions get to be David is quite a fantastical assertion that I won't go into further here). Ever proving her mastery of logic-gymnastics, she moved quickly from her usual claim of charter school underperformance to her accusation that charter school over-performance was motivated by an eagerness "to beat" other schools.

And then she was gone. But this time, forever.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Prominent Anti-Education Reformer, Diane Ravtich, Blocks Me on Twitter


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