Here's Ravitch's response:
Posted November 14, 2011 at 1:59 PM
Gosh, Mike, it sounds as though you have identified the real problem that "reformers" face: democracy.
After nine years of mayoral control in New York City, it's hard to see it as the solution to the problem of poor academic results.
As you know, the test score gains that were trumpeted from 2005-2009 went up in smoke in 2010, when the New York State Department of Education commissioned an independent study and admitted that the state tests had gotten easier every year. Once the scores were recalibrated, New York City's "gains" disappeared. The proficiency in math dropped from 82% to 54%, and in ELA dropped from 64% to 42%. The achievement gap, which supposedly had narrowed dramatically, widened to almost where it had been in 2002, when mayoral control began. This, despite the near-doubling of the education budget, from $12.5 billion to $23 billion a year. Graduation rates are up, but some 75% of the graduates who enter our community colleges need remediation. Now the NY Regents says that only 1 in four of the city's high school graduates are "college ready."
I thought that conservatives supported local control. It's pretty radical to go to the extreme of eliminating 15,000 school boards and centralizing everything in the big state bureaucracies in the hope that this will suffice to silence the teachers' unions.
At some point, you should let the question of democracy factor into your plans for the nation's schools. Since you are a parent yourself, you might ask whether it's a good idea to have the decision making so far removed from the reach of ordinary parents. But I guess if you have a complete voucher system, this would not be a problem. At least, not a problem for you. Just the end of public education as we have known it for the past 150 or so years.