Diane Ravitch, research scholar at NYU Steinhardt, recently appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition to discuss her new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education under George H. W. Bush, was once a conservative proponent of education policies like No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which sought to raise standards by demanding accountability from school districts.
Now, however, Ravitch argues that instead of raising standards, NCLB and high-stakes testing have lowered standards, as states and districts game the system by “dumbing down” their tests and manipulating data to make it appear as though more students are passing.
A big failure of NCLB, according to Ravitch, is that it introduces competition into education, which is antithetical to the very nature of public education.
She says, “Schools should operate like families; the fundamental principle by which education proceeds is collaboration. Teachers are supposed to share what works; schools are supposed to get together and to talk about what succeeded for them. They are not supposed to hide their trade secrets and have a ‘survival of the fittest’ competition with the school down the block.”
To hear Ravitch speak about her new book, click on the link below.