Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Diane Ravitch’s book- final thoughts

On the flight over here, I finally finished wading through Randi Weingarten's book.  Ooops, I mean Diane Ravitch's – but only sort of.  I really tried to find a single sentence in the entire book that couldn't have been written by Randi – and couldn't find one.  Seriously.  It was just 296 pages of union talking points.  That doesn't mean there wasn't some good and interesting data and stories – I learned a few things, especially some history – but it was so massively biased that I couldn't trust anything.


I really hope to never again write about this lame book, but let me summarize its two main flaws: the first, covered in previous emails, is that it's utterly lacking in any solutions – it's just full of criticisms.  The second is that it's utterly lacking any acknowledgement of the educational malpractice – a crime of the highest order – that's being committed against millions of children every day (and we all know the skin color and the zip codes of these children).  The fact that most schools, principals and teachers are adequate-to-good-to-great doesn't excuse the fact that a minority are completely failing – and in so doing, are ruining lives of the children who can least afford it.


The words "rubber room" don't appear in the book (I checked the index).  The fact that 54% of black and 50% of Latino 4th graders are struggling readers (testing Below Basic on NAEP) is nowhere to be found – incredible in a book filled with so many facts.  Ditto for the fact that 2,000 high schools (of 14,000) account for HALF of the nation's dropouts.  In a book filled with human stories about the evils Alan Bersin, Joel Klein, and NCLB, where are the stories about the children who have multiple teachers every year, none willing or able to impart knowledge?  In 296 pages, she couldn't have found ONE story about the horrors of some schools like this one!? http://edreform.blogspot.com/2009/07/story-from-trenches-send-me-more.html.  Instead, she decries efforts to shut down chronically failing schools, wrapping them in a cloak of nostalgic clichés, completely ignoring (or oblivious to) their horrific reality.


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