Gary North – March 18, 2014
Diane Ravitch says that America’s urban public schools are about to go belly-up, killed by the Right (charter schools) and the Left (the Common Core curriculum).
I dearly hope she is correct.
Ravitch is the #1 maven of public education. She loves the system. She believes that badges and guns are crucial for education, as well as for democracy. She assures us that we cannot have education without badges and guns. She says: “Public education is one of the foundational institutions for a democracy.” She is this generation’s #1 defender of the messianic character of American public education. You can read about her here.
She earned a Ph.D. from the academic institution which, more than any other, gave us progressive education: Columbia University.
George H. W. Bush appointed her to a high office. So did Bill Clinton. So did George W. Bush.
Now she says the whole system is at risk. We read on the liberal Salon site:
Ravitch is the consummate public education weather vane. She gets on board one fad after another, only to be left in the dust when it fails. They all fail.
“No Child Left Behind” is clearly a failure. Ravitch supported it. Now she opposes it.
These well-paid bureaucrats become cheerleaders for one reform after another. But their team — tax-funded education — has not had a winning season since 1940.
Dr. Ravitch was Assistant Secretary of Education when the Department’s report was published, 120 Years of American Education: A Statistical Portrait. She wrote the introduction. Most Americans are unaware of these facts:
Look-say reading techniques of the 1940’s have produced millions of functional illiterates. Dick and Jane can’t read. One estimate is that 20% of Americans cannot read.
No major national educational reform has worked since the post-Sputnik reforms, which were supposed to create a nation of scientists and engineers. Today, over half of all Ph.D students in engineering are foreign students. American taxpayers are educating the world’s best graduate students in science and engineering.
The new math was a bust in the late 1960’s.
One after another, reforms are heralded as the solution to declining student test scores. None of them ever produces the promised successes.
The SAT scores started falling in 1963, and they have not reversed. Other tests showed similar declines.
Look at what schools are buying.
It’s great for Apple. Meanwhile, school buildings rot.
Buying iPads for students is just another fad. New school construction is an old fad. It has been discarded. Fads come and go. This is constant: Test scores decline.
What about Common Core?
When she says “massive failure,” what does she have in mind? This:
I say this. Let’s call Common Core what it really is: “Most Children Left Behind . . . Asians Excepted.”
Common Core will fail. The politicians who promoted it will find themselves in another line of work if they don’t abandon the experiment. Moms Against Drunk Testing will vote them out of office.
Teachers are being blamed for the failures. Well, what else would they expect? The system has been in decline since 1940. But Ravitch refuses to blame them.
If the teachers are not to blame, then who is? She did not say.
I have two suggestions: (1) the system of tax funding; (2) the system of compulsory attendance.
In other words, blame the system as a whole, not just one component. Stop calling for reforms. The reforms do not work.
I have a slogan: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It is broke, fix it. If it can’t be fixed, stop funding it.”
She hates charter schools. She does not mention the #1 fact of charter schools: They are funded by taxes. So, she targets this practice: they kick out rotten students.
In short, charter schools raise the lowest common denominator. This is elitist, she says.
What is the solution? You already know her answer: more tax money. Subsidize failure.
I see. There has never been enough funding.
When you subsidize failure, but you promise success, there cannot be enough money.
Then the charter high schools will adopt the Khan Academy, which is free. They could then decide to have classes with 80 students, one low-paid 25-year-old with a B.A., and one high school graduate to help her keep order. They will be profitable. Khan is self-teaching, which is the way to do an online curriculum. It is what the Ron Paul Curriculum uses.
But they’re cheap! And with Khan Academy, they will be good enough.
She ends with this:
This is the rhetoric of political envy.
This is the rhetoric of a defender of a failed system.
Common Core is dead in the water. But it is going to take a decade to kill it. It will tear up the public schools. It will undermine support for the public schools. It will divide the bureaucrats.
Meanwhile, “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now.”
Then there will be private education for parents who want it for their children.
We are seeing the death throes of the messianic character of American education.
© 2014 GaryNorth.com, Inc., 2014 All Rights Reserved.