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The Death and Life of the Great American School System

de Diane Ravitch

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7702629,156 (3.98)12
Award-winning author, public intellectual, and former Assistant Secretary of Education, critiques a lifetime's worth of school reforms and reveals the simple, yet difficult, truth about how we can create actual change in public schools. A passionate plea to preserve and renew public education, this work is a radical change of heart from one of America's best known education experts. The author, a leader in the drive to create a national curriculum, examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions that she once staunchly advocated. Drawing on over forty years of research and experience, she critiques today's most popular ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the feckless multiplication of charter schools. She shows conclusively why the business model is not an appropriate way to improve schools. Using examples from major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Diego, she makes the case that public education today is in peril. She includes clear prescriptions for improving America's schools: leave decisions about schools to educators, not politicians or businessmen ; devise a truly national curriculum that sets out what children in every grade should be learning ; expect charter schools to educate the kids who need help the most, not to compete with public schools ; pay teachers a fair wage for their work, not "merit pay" based on deeply flawed and unreliable test scores ; encourage family involvement in education from an early age. This book is an analysis of the state of play of the American education system.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 26 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Diane Ravitch is not only an historian's historian, she is a superb prose stylist. I've been a fan of her blog for some time (and I even presume to comment there occasionally), but this is the first of her books I've read. She actually here tells the story, to a large extent, of the last thirteen years of my working life, so the subjectivity of my review may go beyond the normal "I" perspective. On the other hand, this is a compact, brisk, and compelling account of the last several years of education "reform" in the United States. It's merits are many. Very highly recommended.
  Mark_Feltskog | Dec 23, 2023 |
Good, but exceptionally frustrating, as public education supporters have been criticizing the high stakes testing approach since it was first pushed on us.

See my column on this for a full review:
http://www.beyondchron.org/news/index.php?itemid=8043 ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
Despite what you might think, Ravitch is ultimately a conservative; her arguments are tinged with nostalgia for a more formal, rigorous, idealistic type of education. Those of us who are true believers in public education also believe in the transformative power of, say, classic literature, or a understanding of the romance and awe of scientific exploration.

The battle is still underway to reclaim our schools from the supply-side marketing gurus who think that free markets and deregulation cure all of society's ills. I completely agree with Ravitch in that we have to define what it means to be an educated citizen - instead of debating this absolutely essential question, we are caught up in trying to "process" our way to better schools.

I also think that most people have a fundamental ignorance about what teachers do, or what happens in school every day. Teachers are the target of the new educational gurus because, there is no way to reduce or simplify the experience of education. I often say that the students learn just as much or more from each other than they do from their teachers - but they also learn from great authors, from their families, from their experiences. All of these combine to form an education - schools and teachers help to facilitate this learning and growth. ( )
  jonbrammer | Jul 1, 2023 |
Actually giving one star to this combination of regret and restatement of the obvious is being generous. Ravitch basically spent her time in the 80s and early 90s promoting the testing and "choice" trends that now dominate a lot of the education establishment. She basically now had a change of heart and is going against most of what she actively promoted. This is a history of American education mostly looking at the end of the 20th century into today. If you have kept up with what has been going on, this book will not tell you anything new. In my case, all I have to do is look at my daughter's school and their constant obsession with standardized testing and how they pretty much teach to the test to see the results of Ravitch and her ilk: a major stifling of creativity and independent thinking, students who graduate mostly with one skill--the ability to fill bubbles on a multiple choice sheet, and who are barely knowledgeable of basic skills or the information and knowledge they need to be good, informed civic-minded active citizens.

Her conclusions are not that much better. Yes, we need major changes. Yes, we need a major exercise of collective will for the public good. Yes, we need stronger curricula, stronger instruction, better teachers (who are better paid as well, something Ravitch barely touches). Yes, we need to stop thinking of schools as businesses. These are things that others have said before, and they have said them much more eloquently. To me, as a former teacher and now librarian, this book seems like too little too late. The damage is already done, and it is going to take a lot of effort and will, things seriously lacking in a society that does not value education, and where anti-intellectualism is becoming the norm, to fix things. And there lies the tragedy, well, for the U.S. Meanwhile the rest of the world will continue to do better on skills tests overall than the U.S. given they have things like strong curricula, teachers and resources. These are things we could have and that we could do, but as a society we choose not to. Tragic indeed.

( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
Excellent! ( )
  scottcholstad | Jan 12, 2020 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 26 (següent | mostra-les totes)
I have always relied on Ravitch’s intellectual honesty when battles become intense. And her voice is especially important now.
 
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Award-winning author, public intellectual, and former Assistant Secretary of Education, critiques a lifetime's worth of school reforms and reveals the simple, yet difficult, truth about how we can create actual change in public schools. A passionate plea to preserve and renew public education, this work is a radical change of heart from one of America's best known education experts. The author, a leader in the drive to create a national curriculum, examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions that she once staunchly advocated. Drawing on over forty years of research and experience, she critiques today's most popular ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the feckless multiplication of charter schools. She shows conclusively why the business model is not an appropriate way to improve schools. Using examples from major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Diego, she makes the case that public education today is in peril. She includes clear prescriptions for improving America's schools: leave decisions about schools to educators, not politicians or businessmen ; devise a truly national curriculum that sets out what children in every grade should be learning ; expect charter schools to educate the kids who need help the most, not to compete with public schools ; pay teachers a fair wage for their work, not "merit pay" based on deeply flawed and unreliable test scores ; encourage family involvement in education from an early age. This book is an analysis of the state of play of the American education system.

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