Reading & Reacting: The Architect of School Reform Who Turned Against It – The Atlantic

Image: Diane Ravitch

By Sarah Mosle @ The Atlantic

Despite being a book review for Diane Ravitch’s newest book, Reign of Error, Mosle fills in a lot of background information about Ravitch, her history, her about-face, and her rise as a chief critic of market-driven edreforms.

It is interesting how Mosle spends a lot of time praising Ravitch, in particular her previous book The Death and Life of the Great American School System, to begin her criticism of the new book and Ravitch’s climb to lead a counterrevolution against high-stakes testing, corporatization, and flawed accountability measures. Then, Mosle makes an effort to cleverly pit two versions she has painted of Ravitch against one another.

Ravitch the counterrevolutionary may be right that the reformers’ cause is primed for derailment. But Ravitch the historian once foretold what typically follows a contentious drive for school improvement: “It was usually replaced,” she observed in 2003, “by a movement called ‘back to basics,’ or ‘essentialism,’ ” which didn’t herald new progress but rather “a backlash against failed fads.” Ravitch herself is the “essentialist” now, urging that we go back not to basics but to a past when issues of equity and adequate funding dominated debates about education. At a time of growing income inequality, this correction is overdue.

It is at this point, where the review starts to unravel as Mosle reveals she is a charter school teacher and begins to paint Ravitch as a devisive zealot. While she acknowledges a willingness to compromise in the new book, Mosle begins defending successful charter schools and systems. Consequently, any credibility of the criticisms that are levied at the end are belied by her admission.

Image: iPad

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and flipped to Teaching Today

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