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Mon March 7, 2011
Ravitch: School reforms are "tearing education apart and demonizing teachers"
Diane Ravitch, education historian and author of the book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, spoke at the Novi Sheraton Hotel today at an education symposium about the current state of education and education reform in the country.
The symposium was co-sponsored by the Michigan Education Association.
From the Detroit Free Press:
Ravitch had a welcome audience, getting a standing ovation before and after she spoke at the conference...She said national policy makers say they want to reform education. But, what they’re really doing “is tearing education apart and demonizing teachers.”
She alluded to Detroit as she talked about districts that are eliminating programs, laying off thousands of teachers, getting rid of art education and increasing class sizes, saying it’s kids in Detroit "who need much smaller classes."
Ravitch said poverty plays a big role in the success or failure of students in a school system.
The Grand Rapid Press had more on Ravitch's talk in which she said the United States is in an age of "national stupidity" in terms of how it views education.
From the Grand Rapids Press:
Ravich, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education who had a role in developing No Child Left Behind and the charter school movement, renounced both reforms, saying they've given way to a culture of incentives and punishments through testing that does little to help students...Ravitch said the country can't improve schools by constantly cutting budgets and using standardized tests to paint teachers as ineffective in an attempt to “de-professionalize” the work.
She said that current reforms that rely on test scores are a mistake:
“I take standardized test scores with a grain of salt – make that a ton of salt,” she said. “We've watched a gaming of the system and an increase in cheating because the stakes are so high.”
USA Today and the Detroit Free Press had stories over the weekend on this very subject. Their investigation showed anomalies in standardized test score results - anomalies that suggest cheating may have taken place.
Here is a clip of Ravitch talking about education reform and her book on the Daily Show: