Friday, April 13, 2012

Diane Ravitch: Pyromaniac

Speaking of Ravitch, here's a spot-on blog post that captures what she has become: a "pyromaniac" who loves to attack, lie and inflame, but offers NO SOLUTIONS (my emphasis added):

Diane Ravitch: Pyromaniac

By Brian Bridges on Mar 19, 2012 in CLRN

After today, Diane Ravitch will have one less Twitter follower. Me.

I felt some anxiety about attending Friday morning's keynote at the Computer Using Educator conference. I've followed Diane Ravitch for some time and have appreciated her "raising the alarm" regarding student assessment, teacher evaluation, and other injustices impacting K-12 education. It helps to have someone fighting the good fight.

However, Diane's statements about instructional technology and online courseware have been more critical than helpful to the online revolution. At Friday's keynote, she began by sharing that she's one of us: she's used a word processor to write a book. She's experienced the pain of losing a file. Yes, some of her best friends use technology.

Still, Diane's keynote felt more like watching a pyromaniac set a series of fires; she'd throw gasoline on an issue, light a match, and watch it blaze for a bit before repeating the steps on issue after issue.  One would wonder whether the sky was about to fall after listening to her examples of education injustices.

Consider Diane's stance on online learning. Here she paints all online learning with the same brush using a story about k12, Inc, student test scores, and a shareholder lawsuit. While being a true story, she completely ignored research that blended learning (online learning at a brick-and-mortar school) has proven to be highly effective and that online learning serves a variety of students perfectly. To her all "for-profit" publishers are bad.

Many online learning advocates acknowledge the movement's flaws. We must be honest about both the strengths and problems surrounding eLearning.  Granted, Diane's facts were 100% correct and many of us have read about the examples she was sharing. However, it's one thing to rail about an injustice and another to just complain without offering a solution. As I learned in high school, you're either part of the solution or you're part of the problem.

So, yes, I believe Diane Ravitch is an issue pyromaniac who is paid well to remind us of the world's injustices.  Not only do I not mind divergent viewpoints, I write about both critical and positive aspects of online learning. I'm just tired of putting out the fires she sets.

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