Public School Maven Predicts Public School-Free Cities in Ten Years

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Diane Ravitch says that America’s urban public schools are about to go belly-up, killed by the Right (charter schools) and the Left (the Common Core curriculum).

I dearly hope she is correct.

Ravitch is the #1 maven of public education. She loves the system. She believes that badges and guns are crucial for education, as well as for democracy. She assures us that we cannot have education without badges and guns. She says: “Public education is one of the foundational institutions for a democracy.” She is this generation’s #1 defender of the messianic character of American public education. You can read about her here.

She earned a Ph.D. from the academic institution which, more than any other, gave us progressive education: Columbia University.

George H. W. Bush appointed her to a high office. So did Bill Clinton. So did George W. Bush.

Now she says the whole system is at risk. We read on the liberal Salon site:

Once a George H.W. Bush education official and an advocate for greater testing-based accountability, Diane Ravitch has in recent years become the nation’s highest-profile opponent of Michelle Rhee’s style of charter-based education reform (one also espoused by Barack Obama).In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned.

Ravitch is the consummate public education weather vane. She gets on board one fad after another, only to be left in the dust when it fails. They all fail.

“No Child Left Behind” is clearly a failure. Ravitch supported it. Now she opposes it.

These well-paid bureaucrats become cheerleaders for one reform after another. But their team — tax-funded education — has not had a winning season since 1940.

Dr. Ravitch was Assistant Secretary of Education when the Department’s report was published, 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait. She wrote the introduction. Most Americans are unaware of these facts:

In 1940, more than half of the U.S. population had completed no more than an eighth grade education. Only 6 percent of males and 4 percent of females had completed 4 years of college (table 4). The median years of school attained by the adult population, 25 years old and over, had registered only a scant rise from 8.1 to 8.6 years over a 30-year period from 1910 to 1940 (p. 7).

Look-say reading techniques of the 1940’s have produced millions of functional illiterates. Dick and Jane can’t read. One estimate is that 20% of Americans cannot read.

No major national educational reform has worked since the post-Sputnik reforms, which were supposed to create a nation of scientists and engineers. Today, over half of all Ph.D students in engineering are foreign students. American taxpayers are educating the world’s best graduate students in science and engineering.

The new math was a bust in the late 1960’s.

One after another, reforms are heralded as the solution to declining student test scores. None of them ever produces the promised successes.

The SAT scores started falling in 1963, and they have not reversed. Other tests showed similar declines.

Ravitch continues:

There are many states that are cutting the budget for public schools at the same time that they’re paying a lot out for testing… Texas, for example, a couple of years ago… cut $5.3 billion out of the public schools, and at the same time gave Pearson a contract for almost $500 million… They said that there would be 15 end-of-course exams in order to graduate high school and caused a parent rebellion: There were so many angry moms, they organized a group called TAMSA — Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment — better known as Moms Against Drunk Testing…

Look at what schools are buying.

Los Angeles just made a deal a few months ago to spend $1 billion to equip every student and staff member with an iPad. The money was taken from a 25-year bond for school construction, to buy disposable equipment. The iPads will be obsolete in three or four years… Meanwhile, the schools have unmet repair dates…

It’s great for Apple. Meanwhile, school buildings rot.

Buying iPads for students is just another fad. New school construction is an old fad. It has been discarded. Fads come and go. This is constant: Test scores decline.

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