Friday, February 03, 2012

When Ravitch Made Sense

Here's a little somethin'-somethin' that Diane Ravitch wrote 7 years ago, something that makes as much sense today as it did when she wrote it. Contrast those words with her talk which I attended a couple weeks ago.

What caused her to lose her mind?

Seven years ago, she was worried about "ethnomathematics", about trying to bend math from a pure science to support liberal social science claptrap. It's reasons like that, Diane, that people turned to charter schools, the testing of at least basic skills, vouchers, and the rest of the school reform movement. It had nothing to do with trying to privatize and deprofessionalize public schools; the former is a response, and the latter we did to ourselves, in part by creating such sputum as "ethnomathematics".


MikeAT said...

I wonder if she was then or is now worried about Ebonics, something so stupid only a PhD could approve of it.

allen (in Michigan) said...

How many possibilities are there?

Let's discount, for reasons of excessive convenience, mental illness. What's that leave?

Well, Ravitch could have seen the error of her ways and now believes that teaching should be a sinecure, that public education is underfunded by definition and that nothing fundamental ought to change.

It happens. People have a change of heart and decide to adopt a new point of view, one they would previously have argued against.

But that's not really a reason but an observation.

A reason might be that, at 73, Ravitch would like to cash in and the reputation she previously established as an irritant to the public education status quo is a highly salable commodity. Hit the speaking circuit, telling willing audiences what they want to hear, coming from someone who they never expected to say those things, and watch the five-figure fees roll in.

So my list consists of an unexplained change of heart or a mercenary streak.

Hmmm, where'd I leave my Occam's razor?

Cal said...

I'm no fan of Ravitch, but it's purely wrong to say that people turned to charter schools because of bad math in public schools. The people who turn to charter schools, by and large, are low-income URMs and white suburbans in competitive public school districts who have kids who aren't academic rock stars--each group with its own charter school type. And they turned to charter schools because they wanted a better environment or better grades (without necessarily better knowledge) or both.

The charter school movement is not engendered by parents, but by people who want to redesign education. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that goaal, but it's simply wrong to say that parents left public school because of the nonsense that shows up in educational research.

As for why she changed her mind--Ravitch has always been an education romanticist, someone who believes education is to make people better. She used to think that the charter school movement would make that happen, then she realized how results-oriented the reform movement was. That was a lot of it. The rest of it was, yes, opportunism.

mazenko said...

But unlike many, Ravitch has been crunching the data. And her critics haven't.