Changing the Poisonous Narrative
A Conversation with Diane Ravitch
"In so many cases, political figures are shaping education policy and not trusting professionals to make professional judgments," argues education expert Diane Ravitch in the interview "Changing the Poisonous Narrative" from the December 2011/January 2012 issue of Educational Leadership.
Ravitch says that politicians, including President Obama, as well as state governors and other elected officials are pushing for corporate-minded reforms that will prove detrimental to public education.
"Today you see a lot of governors enacting draconian laws that will damage public education and dismantle the teaching profession," she says. "You see it in Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Indiana. And then you see President Obama and Secretary Duncan pushing charter schools and the evaluation of teachers by test scores."
Such reforms, Ravitch says, will do nothing to close achievement and opportunity gaps, nor will they ultimately lead to the more innovative and competitive workforce that these reforms are intended to create.
Ravitch's main contention in this article centers on the fallacy of the U.S. obsession with standardized testing. "Testing is a very flawed instrument, and we are basing our kids' futures on it," Ravitch says.
"We have to think about what testing does to children over a 12-year period. Taking these tests year after year teaches them that the aim of education is to be able to get the right answer and that you will be given four choices, three of which are wrong and one of which is right. What does that do to the child's thinking? What does that do to creativity, to imagination, to the ability to take a problem and turn it around and see something that no one else can see?"
Ravitch warns that the negatively focused education debate will create unintended consequences for future generations: "If you so poison the public mind against teachers, then who will teach?" she asks.
Read the full article.
ASCD Express, Vol. 7, No. 8. Copyright 2012 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.