education reform

  • How the Reagan Administration Used "A Nation at Risk" to Push for School Privatization

    by Valerie Strauss and James Harvey

    One of the educators who served on the commission that developed an influential report on the state of American education argues that the report was built to serve an anti-public school ideology, and that its conclusions were a foundation for the culture war battles over schooling today. 

  • Stuck on the Rufo Road

    by Jennifer Berkshire

    As conservative activists mount a multi-front campaign to discredit and defund public education, too many leading Democrats seem unaware that the popularity of public education means they have a winning issue right in front of their faces, says an education historian and policy analyst. 

  • The Commonality between Biden’s Education Secretary and Betsy Devos is a Warning

    by Adam Laats

    Public education has long been envisioned as a black box that can fix the social problems created by inequality in the United States. When it has failed to perform this miracle, the education system has been subjected to successive waves of wrenching reform. It's time to fix the society outside the school walls. 

  • The Atlantic profiles Diane Ravitch ... and her successful struggle against the school reform movement

    Sara Mosle, who teaches writing at Philip’s Academy Charter School in Newark, N.J., has written about education for The New York Times, Slate, and other publications.The survival of the school-reform movement, as it’s known to champions and detractors alike, is no longer assured. Even a couple years ago, few would have predicted this turn of events for a crusade that began with the publication of A Nation at Risk in 1983, gathered momentum as charter schools and Teach for America took off in the 1990s, and surged into the spotlight with No Child Left Behind in 2001. As a schoolteacher, I know I didn’t anticipate this altered landscape. If one person can be credited—or blamed—for the reform movement’s sudden vulnerability, it’s a fiercely articulate historian, now in her 70s, named Diane Ravitch.

  • The Problem with School "Accountability"

    by Robert L. Urzillo

    Image via Shutterstock.As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century two seemingly mutually inclusive factors are becoming prominent in the debate about improving public education: the high-stakes testing movement and paying and retaining teachers based on test results. These "solutions" have become popular across the political spectrum and while it may sound logical to people outside of the education, those of us on the inside know that this is a simple answer to a complex problem.

  • Let the Teachers Teach

    by David Patten

    Image via Shutterstock.I have found it! After little thought and less reflection, I have found the answer to the problems of American public school education. Best of all, my solution will cost no money, save the taxpayers millions, and produce a well-educated citizenry. The solution is simple: eliminate any and all high stakes proficiency testing and unleash the power of the teachers to do what they do best, educate our children.

  • Diane Ravitch comes out against Common Core

    Education historian Diane Ravitch, the leading voice in the movement opposing corporate-based school reform, has for several years said she has no definitive opinion on the Common Core State Standards. Now she has come out against  them, in this post, which appeared today on her blog....* * * * *I have thought long and hard about the Common Core State Standards.I have decided that I cannot support them. In this post, I will explain why.

  • Barbara J. Miner: The Meaning of Choice

    Barbara J. Miner is a Milwaukee-based journalist who has covered education for more than 20 years. She is author of the newly released book Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City (New York: New Press)....Before the mid-1990s, the term “failing schools” was all but nonexistent. It certainly, for instance, was not applied to Jim Crow-era segregated black schools in the South that could not even afford desks.What’s more, the first use of vouchers was not by poor black parents but by whites hoping to escape desegregation. From 1959 until 1964, when federal courts intervened, officials closed all the public schools in Prince Edward County, Virginia rather than comply with orders to desegregate. White parents took advantage of publicly funded vouchers to attend a newly created private, whites-only academy.Such an association between vouchers and white supremacy is not useful to today’s voucher advocates. Instead, vouchers have been repackaged as a way to improve academic achievement and to expand parent “choice.” But after more than 20 years, one of the clearest lessons from Milwaukee is that vouchers, above all, are a way to funnel public tax dollars out of public schools and into private schools. Vouchers, at their core, are an abandonment of public education....

  • William J. Barber II amd Tim Tyson: McCrory’s Intellectual Dead End

    Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is president and Dr. Tim Tyson is education chair of the N.C. State Conference of NAACP Branches. ...“You got to throw the corn down where the hogs can get to it,” Georgia race-baiter Gov. Eugene Talmadge used to crow. In much the same spirit, North Carolina’s new governor appeared on William Bennett’s nationally-syndicated radio program last week and sneered at the UNC system for “offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”Bennett seems an odd assistant to help McCrory toss those stale hushpuppies to the tea party. The former secretary of education usually bemoans the failure of today’s youth to read Aristotle. The author of “The Book of Virtues” admits to losing something like $10 million in the casinos and he once speculated that even though it would be wrong for America to abort all African American babies, “the crime rate would go down.”

  • Diane Ravitch: Holding Education Hostage

    Diane Ravitch won the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences in 2011 for her “careful use of social science research for the public good.”
 (July 2012)For weeks, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers have been battling over the issue of teacher evaluation. Governor Andrew Cuomo set a deadline for them to reach an agreement, but they failed to do so, potentially costing the city schools hundreds of millions of dollars. The state education commissioner, John King, jumped into the fray by threatening to withhold over a billion dollars in state and federal aid if there was no settlement between the parties. Now, Governor Cuomo says that he may intervene and take charge of the stalemated negotiations.What’s going on here? Why can’t the mayor and the union reach an agreement? Why does Commissioner King intend to punish the city’s children if the grown-ups don’t agree?

  • Lisa Levenstein: NC Governor McCrory’s Education Decree is Misguided

    Lisa Levenstein teaches history at UNC Greensboro.On Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory vowed to change the system of public higher education in North Carolina. Instead of educating students broadly in the liberal arts, he wants universities and community colleges to train students narrowly for existing jobs in fields such as “mechanics.”“We are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs,” McCrory told conservative radio talk-show host Bill Bennett, disparaging subjects such as philosophy for providing students with inadequate skills.Unlike the governor, many Americans value a liberal arts education for teaching critical-thinking and communication skills through the study of the arts, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. As students read great literature, investigate scientific problems, learn foreign languages, analyze data, scrutinize historical artifacts and study global cultures, they acquire tools that foster lifelong learning and promote engaged and responsible citizenship....

  • How to Revitalize Public Education

    by Mark Naison

    P.S. 9 in Brooklyn, New York. Credit: Flickr/calculat0r.I have a very different vision of what public schools should be doing than Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, Arne Duncan, Michael Bloomberg and the current generation of “school reformers.” My vision involves making schools centers of community revitalization where young people's curiosity and creativity are nurtured, where student differences are recognized and respected, where the physical and emotional health of children is promoted, where teachers have long careers, and where parents and community members are welcome.

  • School Reform Grudge Match: Diane Ravitch vs. Steven Brill

    by David Austin Walsh

    Few would claim that the tone of civic discourse in America is amiable.  Bitterness and invective are now hard-wired into our political life, with conservatives castigating Obama as an irresponsible, dangerous Marxist and liberals returning fire with the “craziness” of Michelle Bachmann (whose husband, they whisper, is a closeted homosexual).