Friday, June 03, 2011

Ravitch: Release the tapes!

STOP THE PRESSES!!!  I've lost count of how many times I've exposed Ravitch's lies and distortions, but this time she's really done it – it turns out that she completely fabricated the horrible, defamatory story she told earlier this month about how she says she was treated by Rhode Island Ed Commissioner, Deborah Gist.  In my coverage of the incident (, I speculated that this is what really happened:


I know Deb Gist and am certain that she wouldn't deny Ravitch (or anyone else) the right to speak.  What really happened, I have no doubt, was that, as Ravitch began to spew her usual litany of lies and distortions, Gist spoke up and challenged her.  Ravitch isn't used to being challenged – certainly not forcefully, and certainly not by someone who knows far more than she does about what's really going on in RI's schools…


Well, well, well, you'll never guess what's happened…  It turns out that there was a video of the meeting made by a documentary film crew and they're willing to release all of their footage as long as everyone gives permission – and I'll give you three guesses who's not giving permission…  Ravitch, of course, because she knows it will expose her lies about what really happened!  (Not that we need the video: Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who was at the meeting (and is no friend of ed reform), released a statement that said "Commissioner Gist comported herself in an appropriate and respectful way at all times during this discussion."  And another person who has viewed the tape says that "Gist does interrupt Ravitch once during the 50 minute meeting while Ravitch interrupts Gist 6 times.")


Below are three blog posts by Jay Greene on this kerfuffle.  Here's an excerpt from part 1:

Which account should we believe?  Ravitch is a prominent authority on education and acclaimed historian, as she and her horde of acolytes repeatedly remind us.  If we can't trust her to provide an accurate account of events in her own life, how are we supposed to trust her account of events in the past, pieced together from various archival documents.  If she just weaves a story to suit her purposes, regardless of its accuracy, that would be very worrisome.

Fortunately, there was also a documentary film-maker present who videotaped the exchange between Ravitch and Gist.  The film-maker is a bit skittish about getting involved in this controversy and so will only release the tape if all parties agree.  Gist has consented and Ravitch has asked to see the video before giving her permission.  This is an important test of Ravitch's credibility.  If she is the reliable chronicler of events that she claims, she should be eager to have the video released to confirm her account.

So far she has not given permission, and there may be good reason why she may refuse ever to do so.  According to others who have viewed the tape, it does not support Ravitch's account.  According to one source, Gist does interrupt Ravitch once during the 50 minute meeting while Ravitch interrupts Gist 6 times.  I can't be sure whether this source is accurate, but the simple way to resolve this uncertainty is for Ravitch to allow the video to be released so we can all see the truth and know just how reliable she is.

There are good reasons to doubt Ravitch's credibility.  First, the statement from Governor Chafee contradicts Ravitch's account even though he has no particular motive to do so.  Second, Ravitch clearly has an inflated ego, thin-skin, and has been unreliable in other claims she has made. And third, Gist is eager to have the video released while Ravitch so far has not given her consent.  It sounds like Ravitch has more to hide.

Let's see the video.  And if Ravitch does not allow it, we can assume what the video contains.

Part 2:

Speaking of the Washington Post and scandals, we have another hint that Diane Ravitch's  account of her "rude" encounter with Gist is unlikely to be supported by the videotape.  Diane Ravitch's blog post was posted on the Washington Post blog operated by Valerie Strauss, a once-respectable reporter who is now the high-priestess of the Diane Ravitch Cult.  But after Chafee's statement was released the piece was mysteriously taken down and no trace can be found of it at the Washington Post.

Here's the entire part 3 (nice touch with the Nixon photo!):

VideoGate, Day 6

It has now been 6 days since we asked Diane Ravitch to give permission for the release of videotapes that could verify or refute her allegation that she "never encountered such rudeness and incivility" as she did in her meeting with Rhode Island's education commissioner, Deborah Gist.

Ravitch didn't just make some off-hand remark about the meeting.  She publicly accused a public official of exceptionally bad behavior in an entire column in Education Week that was briefly re-posted in the Washington Post before it was mysteriously taken down, and that spawned two news articles.  And Diane Ravitch is a very important person, as she keeps reminding us.  She has met presidents, governors, all 14 Dalai Lamas, was Joan of Arc in a previous life, and has the ability to start fires with her mind.  She's quite something.

Actually, I have no idea why she told the Providence newspaper that "Over the past half-century, I have met with many governors, state superintendents, congressmen, senators, Cabinet members, and every president since Lyndon B. Johnson (I met John F. Kennedy in 1958, when he was senator from Massachusetts)…. I have never encountered such behavior."  Would we expect that presidents, governors, superintendents, etc… would be rude?  So Gist was more rude than a bunch of leaders who we wouldn't expect to be rude.  I don't get it.

If she had said that she rode with the Hell's Angels, lived in Paris for a decade, and was a Hollywood talent agent and had never encountered such rudeness, I would have been impressed.  I mean, those people are normally considered quite rude.  But to be rude compared to a bunch of politicians who are normally very polite doesn't seem to establish much other than Ravitch's giant-sized ego.

Ravitch has raised the stakes by making this public accusation of gross misbehavior that has caused considerable headaches for Deborah Gist.  Now she has to deliver by agreeing to release the evidence.  Which is it — is she the credible historian who is bound by evidence or is she the ego-starved self-promoter who weaves stories to suit her purposes?  Her refusal to release the video so far tells us what the answer is.

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