Friday, December 28, 2012

Diane Ravitch Does It Again

With a moronic rant that lumps for-profit schooling, online schooling and homeschooling into the same category. To be precise, Leon Wieseltier actually wrote the article, which Ravitch calls a "gift." (Wiesletier himself has been called a name-dropping elitist, and his politics are conservative and in line with ideas of self-aggrandizing promotion. but I digress.)


With that glowing endorsement, Ravitch joins ranks with all of the other extremist, public-school bashing, voucher-toting loonies who insist we completely abolish public schools (albeit on the other side but just as crazy). Ravitch agrees with Wieseltiers's categorization of homeschoolers as "hackers" whose only teaching qualifications are "love."

I can't even begin to express the enormity of the insult that this article conveys to anyone who does not follow the party line with Ravitch. I got sick of her ravings several years ago and called her on her politicization of her views (radio silence from her on that one). I can't even read her anymore with feeling vaguely ill. She believes that public schools are it, that no other options are valid, and that any straying from the standard, factory-model K-12 formula of schooling is un-American, fringe and vaguely insane.

I think it is Ravitch who is toeing the party line and drinking the Kool-Aid. The article cited above begins with a glowing ode to the author's teachers; this is simply not the case for the majority of students anymore. There are some absolutely brilliant teachers in public school, some pretty good ones, and a few that should never be allowed around kids (the first two categories far outnumber the final). HOWEVER. These first two categories are hamstrung by ridiculous, dinosaur-era policies, and very few kids would rave about the brilliance and inspiration of their teachers.

Further, the defense of college as an institution and as a practice is also oudated and absurd. College is increasingly out of reach and about as dumbed down as K-12 has been. There are good arguments for skipping college or at least re-envisioning a college degree, but both Ravitch and Wieseltier don't agree; they feel everything is great as is, and teachers hang the moon in all public institutions, which should stay exactly as they are in perpetuity.

This idea is ludicrous. Everything can and must change. One hundred years ago we didn't have cars. Thirty years ago we did not have ATMs, the internet or cell phones. College students handwrote essays and sometimes typed them. Companies hired a person, stayed loyal to that hire for 25 years, and people retired with a decent pension and a house they had paid off. This is not the world we live in now. China is a major player in innnovation, as is India. Ideas are more valuable than facts, and problem-solving, critical thinking, and information synthesis is crucial for today's high school graduates. School must change. Delivery of education MUST CHANGE.

Ravitch just alienated 1.7 million families who homeschool, and has further divided proponents of public school, and online or blended learning. There is a huge difference between getting a conversation started, and stuffing a roll in the other person's mouth so as to stop the flow of words. Ravitch has done the latter with her "gift."


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