GOOD

Q&A: Diane Ravitch Skewers Every Education Reform Sacred Cow (PART ONE)

In part one of a two-part conversation, Diane Ravitch upends many commonly held assumptions about education reform.

Education expert, author, and NYU professor Diane Ravitch believes that students' lives encapsulate more than their test scores. Her bestselling book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, positions Ravitch as one of the most outspoken critics of the current wave of education reformers. What's most interesting to note is that her current viewpoints are a sharp departure from the beliefs she held in the 1990s, when serving as assistant secretary of education under both President George H. W. Bush and President Bill Clinton. Ravitch shared with us her recipe for improving academic achievement in our nation's schools.

Please note: This is the first of a two-part series.


GOOD: If school choice is the wrong way to go, why is it at the center of the current education reform conversation?

DIANE RAVITCH: School choice has become a phenomenon largely because it’s supported by incredibly wealthy and powerful people. We actually have no evidence that school choice improves education for most kids. The best example we have of school choice and how it affects inner city schools is Milwaukee—which has had school choice longer than any school in the United States. It initiated a voucher program in 1990 so it's had vouchers for 20 years and charters for almost 20 years.

There are about 20,000 kids in Milwaukee with vouchers, about 17,000 in charters and about 82,000 are in the regular public schools. So this is a city that has a thriving choice sector—it should be the highest performing city in the country—it’s not. It’s one of the lowest performing cities in the country.

In 2009, Milwaukee decided to participate in the national testing that's carried out by the federal government. It was one of the lowest performing cities in the country and the African-American children in Milwaukee who are the targets of all this school choice are actually performing below African-American children in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

The current thinking is we need to get rid of the unions, we need to have performance pay, we need to be able to hire and fire whoever we want for any reason, and we need to use test scores to make judgments about who's good and who's not—and now we have a lot of research that shows that charter schools don't do any better. The CREDO study shows that only one out of six performs better than the neighborhood public school, two out of six do worse and the rest are the same.

G: "Waiting for Superman" suggests that we spend a lot of money on education, while other nations spend far less and subsequently get better results. What are your thoughts?

DR: I think Davis Guggenheim has promoted, created, and made a movie attacking the public sector, attacking unions, attacking teachers, and saying that teachers are solely responsible if kids don't do well in schools—and saying that the answer is privately managed schools and getting rid of unions. But is America spending enough?

I’ve spoken to many audiences of teachers and administrators and I always asks them if there's anyone that has enough resources to do the job. I have yet to have anyone raise their hand and say, "Yes, our classes are the right size and we have enough resources, thank you very much." And if they're teaching in the inner city, they definitely don't.

G: What about those who say it shouldn’t really matter what resources a teacher has access to, they’re still the main factor in student achievement?

DR: It's not that teachers don't matter because they do, but if you talk to people who work around schools, whether it's parents, teachers or even kids, they'll tell you that family matters most. The family is the one that makes decisions—or has a framework around whether kids come to school ready to learn, or not, whether a household has books and magazines, or doesn't, in which the family consists of people with a college education or doesn't, in which there's a vocabulary in the home—all of these things have a huge impact on whether children arrive at school ready to learn.

That doesn't mean poor children are doomed to fail. They're not. It just means the odds are against them. The odds favor the kids with money. And that's why if you look at any test given in the United States starting with the SAT, there's a tight correlation between family income and the scores on the SAT. And that's true of every test because family income impacts children's health, their nutrition, and their ability to be ready for school.

In Monday's installment, Ravitch talks about the connection between poverty and student achievement, the debate over teacher tenure, and her ideas about what could really turn schools around.

Photo courtesy of Jack Miller

Articles
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

If you are totally ready to move on from Donald Trump, you're not alone. According to a report last April from the Wason Center National Survey of 2020 Voters, "President Trump will be the least popular president to run for reelection in the history of polling."

Yes, you read that right, "history of polling."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Around the NFL / Twitter

After three years on the sidelines, Colin Kapernick will be working out for multiple NFL teams on Saturday, November 16 at the Atlanta Falcons facility.

The former 49er quarterback who inflamed the culture wars by peacefully protesting against social injustice during the national anthem made the announcement on Twitter Tuesday.

Kaepernick is scheduled for a 15-minute on-field workout and an interview that will be recorded and sent to all 32 teams. The Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Detroit Lions are expected to have representatives in attendance.

RELATED: Joe Namath Says Colin Kaepernick And Eric Reid Should Be Playing In The NFL

"We like our quarterback situation right now," Miami head coach, Brian Flores said. "We're going to do our due diligence."

NFL Insider Steve Wyche believes that the workout is the NFL's response to multiple teams inquiring about the 32-year-old quarterback. A league-wide workout would help to mitigate any potential political backlash that any one team may face for making an overture to the controversial figure.

Kapernick is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) so any team could have reached out to him. But it's believed that the interested teams are considering him for next season.

RELATED: Video of an Oakland train employee saving a man's life is so insane, it looks like CGI

Earlier this year, Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid reached a financial settlement with the league in a joint collusion complaint. The players alleged that the league conspired to keep them out after they began kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

Before the 2019 season, Kaepernick posted a video of himself working out on twitter to show he was in great physical condition and ready to play.

Kaepnick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2012 and the NFC Championship game in 2013.

He has the 23rd-highest career passer rating in NFL history, the second-best interception rate, and the ninth-most rushing yards per game of any quarterback ever. In 2016, his career to a sharp dive and he won only of 11 games as a starter.

Culture

In the category of "claims to fame nobody wants," the United States can now add "exporter of white supremacist ideology" to its repertoire. Super.

Russell Travers, acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, made this claim in a briefing at The Washington Institute in Washington, D.C. "For almost two decades, the United States has pointed abroad at countries who are exporters of extreme Islamist ideology," Travers said. "We are now being seen as the exporter of white supremacist ideology. That's a reality with which we are going to have to deal."

Keep Reading Show less

Between Alexa, Siri, and Google, artificial intelligence is quickly changing us and the way we live. We no longer have to get up to turn on the lights or set the thermostat, we can find the fastest route to work with a click, and, most importantly, tag our friends in pictures. But interacting with the world isn't the only thing AI is making easier – now we can use it save the world, too.

Keep Reading Show less
Good News