Reading Diane Ravitch

This book [The Death and Life of the Great American School System] is my opportunity to explain what I have learned about school reform and also to suggest, with (I hope) a certain degree of modesty and full acknowledgment of my own frailties and errors, what is needed to move American education in the right direction. [TDLGASS, pg 4]

Claims to have once believed in fads and programs, but now does not.

Book will also talk about

the extent to which it is appropriate for a mega-rich foundation ot take charge of reforming public schools, even though it is accountable to no one and elected by no one [TDLGASS, pg 4]

Decentralization versus centralization  (late 60s).  The history of such in NYC, formed dissertation from Columbia, q.v. The Great School Wars:  New York City, 1805-1973.

Revisionists (mid 70s) 

They called themselves revisionists, because they set themselves the goal of demolishing what they saw as a widespread myth about the benevolent purposes and democratic accomplishments of public education. [TDLGASS, pg 5]

Wrote The Revisionists Revised:  A Critique of the Radical Attack on the Schools.

The schools cannot solve all our social problems, nor are they perfect.  But in a democratic society they are necessary and valuable for individuals and for the commonweal.  [TDLGASS pg 6]

Education policy (1945 – 1980)

Wrote a history of national education policy from 1945 to 1980, The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945 – 1980.

I wanted to describe where we have gone astray in our pursuit of worthy goals.  We as a society cannot extricate ourselves from fads and nostrums unless we carefully look at how we got entangled in them. [TDLGASS, pg 13]

Contrasts A Nation at Risk with NCLB [2002] on TDLGASS pg 29.

San Diego School District was not broken in 1998 when it hired Alan Bersin (a non-educator) to reform the District with carte blanche until 2005.

TDLGASS Chapter 5 “The Business Model in NYC”

In  2007, only five years after mayoral control of the schools was authorized by the state legislature, New York City won the Broad Prize as the most improved urban school district in the nation. [TDLGASS pg 69]

TDLGASS Chapter 9 “What would Mrs Ratliff Do?”

As we expand the rewards and compensation for teachers who boost scores in basic skills, will we honor those teachers who awaken in their students a passionate interest in history, science, the arts, literature, and foreign language?  If we failu to attract and retaing teachers like Ruby Ratliff, will we produce a better-educated citizenry?  Will our schools encourage the innovative thinkers who advance society?  It’s not likely.



The Dumbest Generation.   Mark Bauerlein

Just How Stupid Are We?  Rick Shenkman

The Age of American Unreason.   Susan Jacoby

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