Diane Ravitch: U.S. public schools have never been better
- While promoting her new book Tuesday at Philadelphia's Free Library, New York University education professor Diane Ravitch said U.S. public school dropout rates and test scores are the best they've ever been.
- Ravitch once championed charter schools and standardized testing but is now one of education reform's foremost critics, and her book, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" sets out to dispel what she says is the myth of U.S. public school decline.
- Ravitch told those gathered that poverty and segregation are at the root of struggling schools, criticized federal policies that "overuse" test scores are "a bill of goods" sold to the public, characterized the state's cyber charters as a "scam" and praised tenure's preservation of academic freedom.
As a former top education aide under President George W. Bush, Ravitch has had plenty of firsthand experience with the nation's current education reform movement and the federal policies behind it. In fact, it was that experience that led to her turn from reform evangelist to one of its sharpest critics. It's hard to argue with many of the assertions she's made while promoting her new book, especially the idea that impoverished students and a lack of resources in less-affluent schools contribute heavily to school failure—or the idea that eliminating "bad" teachers is the key to success. As she stated best during a Monday stop in Pittsburgh, "You can't fire your way to excellence."
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