Can Diane Evolve?

I know a lot of folks like (or loathe) Diane Ravitch, who was in town last week giving a speech and generally rattling the anti-reform saber.  See Catalyst's coverage: Ravitch criticizes school closings, charter expansion.

As you already know, I don't think that's very constructive for CPS over all for Ravitch or anyone else to keep bashing at failed or imperfect reform efforts rather than begin working on some joint efforts. And the truth is that while I like her personally I've basically stopped paying attention to Ravitch because she's become so rigid, ideological, and almost cartoonish in her positions.

She's long ignored me, too. So I was surprised to see that she commented on my recent paper about TFA, HQT, and the use of political power - but then I realized that she hadn't actually read it, or if so only for narrow ideological purposes.

In her very brief post, Ravitch describes my TFA paper as a piece about "how TFA has managed to have unusual influence inside the Beltway."

But that's actually not what the piece is about.  Exactly the opposite, really.The piece is about how TFA for a long time lacked any real Capitol Hill chops, and still exercises its power mostly in the narrow pursuit of programmatic interests (appropriations, authorizations related to TFA).

I pointed this out in the comments on her site last night, and the comment has been removed. Nice.

This has happened before. Ravitch did the same with my book about Locke High School, for what it's worth -- boiling the story down into a single "turnarounds don't work" sound bite -- and then demanding to have her blurb removed from my book when I had the gall to question her rigid certainty.

What's it like, I wonder, for Ravitch followers when she does things like this?  Some wouldn't even notice at this point, so enraged and euphoric that they have become.  But others must cringe a little bit that she has ended up as the de facto reform critic champion that everybody has to follow.

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  • If it's any consolation to you Alexander I seem to recall Ms. Ravitch doing similar things to educators on the left who were critical of her when she worked for President George H.W. Bush and Lamar Alexander and even earlier in the 1970s. I like her better now, but I do not trust her even though she has repented for her various ideological crimes against humanity. I didn't like your book about Locke High School much either and thought you did not probe some of the discipline practices that you depicted very deeply at all.

    But you never deleted my comment and Ms. Ravitch should not have deleted yours.

    Rod Estvan

  • I have never really grokked the excitement about Ravitch. I give her credit for acknowledging a catastrophic error, but when you do that, when you fall on your sword, you don't get a new life as a champion for the other side. A serious person would be much more concerned than she seems to be with the internal causes of her error. But she hasn't really offered a good explanation for why she embraced misguided reform policies in the first place. As a result, naturally, she cannot offer us the really interesting contribution she might (with a little introspection) be able to make to this discussion--a searching response to the question why do such destructive policies continue to appeal so strongly to smart, otherwise disinterested people like Ravitch?

    For the most part, at this point, the lines are really drawn by interest. Disinterested but highly informed opinions are not to be found. People who have a lifelong commitment to classroom teaching generally don't like what they see in reform policies. People who stand to make money, win elections, get consulting contracts, and so on, generally support the side that butters their bread, which is increasingly the side of privatization, virtual schooling, and test-o-matic education. Russo is probably the only honest person left.

  • I find it difficult to listen to her, because every minute or so she throws out a "fact" that puzzles me.
    For example "the teachers who are teaching the gifted will not see big gains" (in test scores).
    I'm also confused about her disdain for testing, yet most of her "facts" presumably come from tests.
    I don't disagree with her that the "national education emergency" is substantially overstated. But I'm probably in agreement with Russo as I feel that her simplistic analysis and lack of nuance in complex issues makes it hard to take her seriously.
    She also seems to know little specifically about Chicago and CPS.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn:: Pott meett kettlee. Youu doo nott seemm too knoww muchh aboutt Chicagoo orr CPSS eitherr.

  • Gifted students already score at the top. How can a cohort that has 95% exceeding standards show big gains?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    As a group gifted will show large growth every year. They may not have a lot of potential for accelerated growth, but they're reliable performers. Unlike a low scoring group.

    Teachers will definitely get lower evaluations in years with particularly difficult students. At least that's the experience of the one teacher in my family who is evaluated by a system similar to the new CPS approach.

  • In reply to Donn:

    That is one of the problems with NCLB, it is impossible for gifted students to show large growth every year. If they peak early with 99% exceeding standards there is no where to go but down. Successive years of decline result in sanctions.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The REACH framework uses two measures for progress. At the HS level these kids could max out on the EXPLORE/PLAN/ACT but the REACH Progress Tasks could be customized for this cohort to show progress.

  • "But, she suggested, high-quality, non-selective magnet schools – which presumably would select students by lottery – could attract more middle-class families to the system."

    Another policy suggestion from Ravitch. The non-selective magnet. We'll select the have and have-nots by lottery. Do all the white people get in automatically?

  • In reply to Donn:

    Non-Selective Magnet Schools are essentially charters but with real teachers, less punitive discipline, and less of a fixation on test scores.

  • Alex- You sound like a jilted admirer. C'mon, Diane is the big time. If this was MMA she'd be a UFC champion. You on the other hand are a blogster, roughly equivalent to a contender* at the "Tough Man Contests" they have at county fairs in rural Indiana.

    *Okay, you might actually be at the level of Boone County Champion.

  • Alex- Don't be a dummy. "Cartoonish and rigid" are the deformers like Rhee and Canada who push failed and unsustainable agendas. In Rhee's case she even lies to promote herself.

    Do you know anything about Diane Ravitch? Ravitch HAS evolved tremendously since she she was the Assistant Secretary of Education to GEORGE H.W. BUSH.

    Decrying her constant bashing of failed reform efforts is weird. Shouldn't you as a bolster also bash failed reform efforts. Are you suggesting we should accept failed reform efforts and work jointly to tweak these reform failures? Sounds like you are "for" the promotion of bad ideas because the powers that be are incessantly pushing them.

  • Alexander

    Diane didn't omit anything you wrote. Try re-posting it... if it's take down again, then you might have justification for what you wrote.

    On subject of censorship, didn't you yourself ban Caroline Grannan last summer from this site when she pointed out that Linda Serrato (of Parent Revolution) was actually a highly-paid Parent Rev operative, not an unpaid, neutral Parent Rev volunteer? Caroline merely wanted that info about Serrato's highly-paid status included in your puffery about Serrato... Serrato's highly-paid status being just a niggling little detail which you conveniently left out (I'm sure this omission was an oversight on your part... it just slipped your mind while you were writing...)

    When Caroline posted this clarifying information, you reacted like an insecure, immature high school boy who (mistakenly) believed someone had uttered disrespect towards his first-ever date to a dance... and lashed out in a ridiculous, petulant fashion... totally out-of-proportion and without justification.

    Honestly, Alexander, you really made a laughingstock out of yourself with that one. What exactly were you doing with that? Sucking up to your corporate, school-privatizing, union-busting masters?

    Sad.

    Jack

  • Diane didn't omit anything you wrote. Try re-posting it... if it's take down again, then you might have justification for what you wrote.

    On subject of censorship, didn't you yourself ban Caroline Grannan last summer from this site when she pointed out that Linda Serrato (of Parent Revolution) was actually a highly-paid Parent Rev operative, not an unpaid, neutral Parent Rev volunteer? Caroline merely wanted that info about Serrato's highly-paid status included in your puffery about Serrato... Serrato's highly-paid status being (to you) just a niggling, irrelevant, little detail which you conveniently left out (I'm sure this omission was an oversight on your part... it just slipped your mind while you were writing it...)

    When Caroline posted this clarifying information, you reacted like an insecure, immature high school boy who (mistakenly) believed someone had uttered disrespect towards his first-ever date to a dance... and lashed out in a ridiculous, petulant fashion... totally out-of-proportion and without justification.

    Honestly, Alexander, you really made a laughingstock out of yourself with that one. What exactly were you doing with that? Sucking up to your corporate, school-privatizing, union-busting masters?

    Sad.

  • I think Diane's problem is that she's too close to the situation. She's writing about American education from inside America. Hello?! That makes about as much sense as writing about CPS from Chicago. No thank you, I'd rather have my Chicago education news from Brooklyn and my United States education news from Asia. She should get a right wing think tank to sponsor her move.

  • In reply to Myron Miner:

    oh yes, that's it. she's so much more intimately knowledgeable about Chicago schools and down to earth than me, jetting in (first class!?) from her brooklyn heights (think lincoln park) brownstone, taking time off from her NYU (elite college) private school job, paid for her remarks and/or travel by who knows whom, former Bush administration bureaucrat on her way to her next speech or back to leafy brooklyn. when did she teach? how long ago was it? how much time does she spend in schools? i'm sure it's so much more than i ever have or currently do. thanks for pointing it out. please try and be funny again sometime soon.

  • Headache299

    Simply interview Robin Steans, let the tape roll, playback unedited – you won’t need “Ravich or anyone else to keep bashing at failed or imperfect reform efforts”

    Sans editing crew, Steans does a great job bashing herself

    Just compare hair-brained billionairess Robin “I don’t know; I’ll have to go back and look” ibid ibid, Steans ‘command’ of achievement data at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4RmzGD6p6w&feature=youtu.be

    with that of Diane Ravitch at
    http://cityclubvideo.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/diane-ravitch/#more-622

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