Friday, July 29, 2011

Diane "The Jackhammer" Ravitch!

Diane "The Jackhammer" Ravitch
It's Day 2 of the SOS conference! Day 1 with Jonathan Kozol was a thrill. Well Day 2 with author Diane Ravitch felt like the rush you get after knocking down a stubborn brick wall. She was clear, tough and methodical, as she drilled into the very foundation of misguided education reform strategies currently so well cemented in public discourse and policy making. One by one she hammered at all the policy proposals this administration and localities around the country have just accepted as good ideas regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Merit pay for teachers, an Obama favorite. There's no compelling evidence to say this works. The teachers say it doesn't work! BANG- went the Ravitch hammer! Even still, New York City who had a failed attempt at merit pay, persists on trying to make it happen. Evaluating teachers based on test scores; another loser. Ravitch was clear. At best it leads to teaching to the test, or in increasing incidences, it leads to cheating and gaming the test to boost scores. WHAMO! Charter schools, this is the real prom queen at the policy ballroom. Everyone seems to want them. Meanwhile at the end of the day, this prom queen's true dance partner seems to be big business. Overall their results are no better than traditional public schools, yet they introduce a profit motive, where only the easiest to serve may benefit, while the hardest to serve youth are left to languish in increasingly under resourced schools. BOOYAH! Teachers don't get fired. Nonsense, Ravitch blasted! Teachers have an attrition rate of 50% in the first five years! With these numbers, surely some are getting fired.

Ravtich cited study after study, expert after expert. She carefully chiseled away at the very foundation of what makes up the nation's current approach to education. It was both cathartic and dismal to hear. But she ended with hope. Fear not, says this Jackhammer of Policy! These misguided reformers may have all the money and power, but things change. This story is not over, we live in a democracy, she argued. "There are more of us than there are of them!" Well said!

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