Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Good Week for the Ravitches? - Updated

Updated: Mar. 3, 4pm

With rave reviews coming in for Diane Ravitch's new book and the news that Governor Patterson may be leaving the field for Diane's ex-husband, Lt. Governer Richard Ravitch, this is turning into quite a week for them.

(running for HS Exec Bd on the ICE-TJC slate) was lucky enough to get a hold of a review copy of “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” - a further sign that Arthur has become one of the most respected commentators on education not only in the city, but nationally. His review is a rave:

It is, frankly, a revelation, and anyone interested in education, particularly New York City education, needs to read it right now.

For anyone who’s wondered where on earth Joel Klein dreamed up his “reforms,” look no further. A substantial source of inspiration appears to be a three-stage process — a New York City experiment that gave a false impression of success, a San Diego experiment that eluded success altogether, and a stubborn determination to replicate both in overdrive.

As both Bloomberg and Klein were business experts using business models, they used a “corporate model of tightly centralized, hierarchal, top-down control, with all decisions made at Tweed and strict supervision of every classroom to make sure the orders flowing from headquarters were precisely implemented,” Ravitch writes. It appears they didn’t squander their valuable time on troublesome input from teachers, parents, or any contradictory voices whatsoever. In fact, Ravitch points out that though the mayor had promised increased parental involvement, it was actually reduced. Parent coordinators were hired, but in fact, they actually “worked for the principal, not for parents.”

Read Arthur's full review at Gotham Schools Ravitch Reveals All

I just hope Richard R reads his ex-wife's book, takes heed, and swats the co-conspirator NY State Ed Department before it causes more damage. But I'm not holding my breath.

Sam Dillon the NY Times today has a BIG STORY on Diane's turn around from a leading conservative to a major voice battling the Ed Deformers.

Leading Scholar’s U-Turn on School Reform Shakes Up Debate -

I can remember years of disparaging remarks toward Diane from the Resistance to the Ed Deformers I have been associated with for almost a decade. When she received the UFT's John Dewey Award, I received an email from Jerry Bracey, one of her severest critics, asking if we were throwing up a picket line.

So when Leonie Haimson introduced me to Diane at the famous St. Vartus church Feb. 28, 2007 rally, I was a bit surprised. Diane joined Leonie's list serve and published some critiques on the brand new at the time NYC Parent blog. As I began to post her work on ICE mail I came under attack from some people on the list, who went after Diane. Over the past few years, she has won over more and more critics (some praise from Ohanian and Lawhead).

When I went to a Manhattan Institute luncheon honoring Chester Finn (who is mentioned on the Times piece) hosted by Diane, a close friend of his, I felt like a total outcast. Until Diane came by my table and whispered in my ear: Go Get 'Em.

I still line up more with Deb Meier on standards and the other issues she and Diane blog about (both are on Leonie's influential listserve and we get some special treats from their back and forth) but I have become a Diane Ravitch fan as much for qualities as a person as for her ideas.

Here is a link to a new radio interview:

For a somewhat dissenting view from Jim Horm (thanks to Sharon Higgins) see:

Diane Ravitch and What's Underneath the Policy Makeover

Horn picks at the national standards issue that Diane supports and without going deep on my part, I tend to agree that if we end up where Diane wants us to, one day we will see a part 2 of her book.


  1. I'm a fan of Ravitch, too, because of the way she speaks out against charters and the billionaires.

    But I'm also a fan of Jim Horn who is still quite critical and mistrustful, although he hasn't yet read the book.

    What is your take on Horn's posting about Ravitch today? The standards issue is not one of my strengths.

  2. Thanks Sharon. I added a link to the main post and wrote:

    Horn picks at the national standards issue that Diane supports and without going deep on my part, I tend to agree that if we end up where Diane wants us to, one day we will see a part 2 of her book.

  3. I'm curious to read her book. My hope is that she'll outline some concrete steps to move our schools into the future.

    Too often, education advocates cede the debate to school reform proponents because they fail to offer any real solutions to the problems facing our schools.

    Personally, I don't want to read another rant against standardized testing and hear more excuses about why schools are struggling.

    I don't think there's a silver bullet solution to the school problems in our country...I'm very open to new ideas from all sides of the issue.

  4. Ravitch, for all the things she's written, said or done that people reading this blog disagree with, is acting as an honest, traditional conservative. Conservative in the literal sense of preserving traditional institutions.

    It's one of the ironies of our situation that people on the left who are fighting ed deform are in many respects taking a consevative stance, and the deformers are the radicals.

    Although maybe it's wrong to call them radicals: nihilists and social vandals might be more accurate.


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