Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ravitch: 'A moment of national insanity'

I hope you're sitting down, but Ravitch actually praises Joe Williams and DFER:

I'm beginning to think we are living in a moment of national insanity. On the one hand, we hear pious exhortations about education reform, endlessly uttered by our leaders in high political office, corporate suites, foundations, and the media. President Obama says we have to "out-educate" the rest of the world to "win the future."

Yet the reality on the ground suggests that the corporate reform movement --- embraced by so many of those same leaders, including the president --- will set American education back, by how many years or decades is anyone's guess. Sometimes I think we are hurtling back a century or more, to the age of the Robber Barons and the great corporate trusts.

Consider a few events of the past week:

In Detroit, the school system will reduce its deficit by closing half the city's public schools and placing students into classes of 60. These are among the poorest and lowest performing students in the nation. Parents and teachers should be rioting in the streets of Detroit, along with everyone who cares about these children and our future. This is an outrage.

The school board of Providence, Rhode Island, sent notice to all of its teachers that they could be terminated at year's end to address its deficit. Most will be retained, but now the board has maximum flexibility to choose which ones. At the same time, Providence's leaders are humiliating every teacher, breaking the bonds of trust that are essential for the culture of a good school. Will anyone hold these reckless, heedless, unprofessional "leaders" in Rhode Island to account?

And the business leaders in Idaho have a plan to lay off 770 teachers and replace them with online learning. Do they know there is no evidence for the efficacy of virtual learning? I don't think they care. For them, this is just a cost-cutting measure. And it's other people's children who will get this bargain basement training, not their own.

If more was needed to strip away the mask of "reform," consider the deafening silence of the corporate school reformers in response to these events. A few, like Joe Williams of Democrats for Education Reform, surprised their confreres (and me) by siding with the teachers of Wisconsin.


Ravitch: 'A moment of national insanity'

By Valerie Strauss

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