Monday, October 24, 2011

Diane Ravitch: Proving Why Parents Need a Revolution

Parent Revolution founder Ben Austin completely demolishes Ravitch's arguments against the Parent Trigger law Austin pioneered:


At the beginning of October, Dr. Diane Ravitch launched a broadside against Parent Trigger and the parent empowerment movement, calling it a "stealth assault" and a "deceptive scheme" to undermine public education. She employed a series of personal attacks, half-truths and conspiracy theories that have come to characterize the other side's desperate attempt to defend an indefensible status quo.

…She begins with the distorted premise that Parent Trigger remedies are somehow "punitive." But punitive for whom? The Parent Trigger only applies to systemically failing schools -- schools that have been failing to meet academic benchmarks for four or more years. The children at McKinley Elementary -- the first school to employ the Parent Trigger --have a 1.5 percent chance of going to college. That's not good enough for my kids, Ravitch's grandkids or anyone else's kids. Ravitch may view the Parent Trigger as "punitive" for the adults working at failing schools, but the status quo is punitive for the children trapped in them.

Ravitch doesn't ultimately believe that parents and kids trapped in these schools should have much of a voice at all in turning them around. She argues that parents should have no more a stake in the governance of their school than should a random person strolling through Central Park have a stake in the governance of that park. The absurdly obvious difference, of course, is that parents are not casual users of their school. They entrust the future of their children to that school every single day. And they cannot afford to let it fail.

…Let's also stipulate that everyone on all sides of this issue are good people who care about kids. Diane Ravitch is a talented academic who has devoted her life to this issue. She clearly cares about kids and the future of public education in America.

What we will not back down from is our fundamental belief that the status quo in public education is broken in large part because the interests of adults too often trump the interest of children, and that empowered parents are the key to systemically ending that dynamic.

This movement is growing. Ravitch's brand of rhetoric doesn't hurt us, it helps us. Every time opponents resort to personal attacks, half-truths and conspiracy theories to defend the status quo, they expose themselves as being devoid of any new ideas to save parents and children trapped in failing schools. Every time they fabricate facts because the reality on the ground does not support their position, they make our argument for us better than we ever could for why parents need power over the education of their own children. Parents know that the losers in this war of sound bites are not the reformers or the teachers unions. The losers are their own children.

The late Senator Pat Moynihan once said, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

So let's debate. But let's stick to the facts. Let's cut the name calling and conspiracy theories. Let's agree that it's time for the adults to start acting like grown-ups. And most important, let's hold ourselves accountable to making every single decision about school policy and union contracts as if that decision would directly impact our own children.


Diane Ravitch: Proving Why Parents Need a Revolution

Ben Austin | Oct 18, 2011 10:31 PM EDT


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