Friday, March 12, 2010

What Would Diane Do?

Tom Carroll with a brilliant skewering of Ravitch's book on Huffington Post, pointing out numerous flaws, the two most important of which are:


A) Her obviously biases that lead her to be "a polemicist not an objective academic":

Ravitch's laser-like demand for research-based evidence is deployed unevenly. For issues she opposes - mayoral control and charter schools, for example - she demands irrefutable proof of their effectiveness and clearly delights when she finds a negative nugget in a critical study. But, for things she supports - teacher unions, small classes, and more public input - she offers and seeks no evidence that they have a positive impact on educational outcomes however measured.

Ravitch's selectivity was shown when she responded to three charter studies in a row in the past year. When Margaret (Macke) Raymond of Stanford issued a study showing many charter schools were not performing so well, Ravitch uncritically highlighted the findings. When Caroline Hoxby found stronger charter results specifically in New York City, Ravitch scoured the report to find methodological issues to jump on. And, then, when Raymond did a study that showed NYC's charters performed much better than her national sample, Ravitch picked apart the results, an impulse she didn't have when Raymond's earlier national study lined up with her anti-charter position. These are the actions of a polemicist not an objective academic.

And B) Her utter failure to propose any solutions:

Ravitch's book is light on these details - more a list of don'ts than a list of dos.

While reading her chapter on "lessons learned," I couldn't help but wonder what specifically Ravitch would do if she was appointed New York City Schools Chancellor.

A few questions for starters: Would she keep the UFT contract in New York City? If not, what would she change? Does she think the length of school day and year should be changed? To what? What if the UFT objected? She opposes merit pay, but does she really think good teachers and mediocre teachers should be paid the same just because they have been around the same amount of time and have accumulated the same number of teacher credits? Would she expand the number of charter schools or impose a moratorium? Would she eliminate the cap on any high-performing charter schools? Since she praises Catholic schools, would she favor an education tax credit proposal that actually would allow them to be viable economically? Does she think Congressional Democrats did a favor for poor parents when they killed off the D.C. scholarship program? Regarding the state's testing program that she critiques, would she "end it or mend it"? How?


Thomas W. Carroll

Posted: March 9, 2010 05:01 PM

What Would Diane Do?

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