Archives for category: Ravitch, Diane

In recent days, there has been an extended discussion online about an article by California whistle blower Kathleen Carroll, in which she blasts Randi Weingarten and the Teachers Union Reform Network for taking money from Gates, Broad, and other corporate reform groups, in some cases, more than a dozen years ago. Carroll also suggests that I am complicit in this “corruption” because I spoke to the 2013 national meeting of TURN and was probably paid with corporate reform money; she notes that Karen Lewis, Deborah Meier, and Linda Darling-Hammond also spoke to the TURN annual meeting in 2012 or 2013. I told Carroll that I was not paid to speak to TURN, also that I have spoken to rightwing think tanks, and that no matter where I speak and whether I am paid, my message is the same as what I write in my books and blogs. In the discussion, I mentioned that I spoke to the National Association of School Psychologists at its annual convention in 2012, one of whose sponsors was Pearson, and I thought it was funny that Pearson might have paid me to blast testing, my point being that I say what I want regardless of who puts up the money. At that point, Jim Horn used the discussion to lacerate me for various sins.

Mercedes Schneider decided to disentangle this mess of charges and countercharges. In the following post, Schneider uses her considerable research skills to dissect the issues, claims and counterclaims. All the links are included in this piece by Schneider. Schneider asked me for my speech to the National Association of School Psychologists as well as my remarks to the TURN meeting, which are included.

I will make two points here. First, Randi has been my friend for 20 years, and I don’t criticize my friends; we disagree on many points, for example, the Common Core, which I oppose and she supports. I don’t hide our disagreements but I won’t call her names or question her motives. Friends can disagree and remain friends.

Second, I recall learning how the left made itself impotent in American politics by fighting among themselves instead of uniting against the common adversary. I recall my first job at the New Leader magazine in 1960, where I learned about the enmity among the Cannonites, the Lovestonites, the Trotskyites, the Mensheviks, the Schactmanites, and other passionate groups in the 1930s. That’s when I became convinced that any successful movement must minimize infighting and strive for unity and common goals.

Even earlier, Benjamin Franklin was supposed to have said at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.”

In the past two days, there has been speculation in the media that I might be a candidate for governor on behalf of the Working Families Party.

I have not sought this designation nor am I running for any political office. There are many well-qualified candidates, and I expect that WFP will choose one of them.

Regular readers of this blog know that I had major surgery on May 9 to replace a knee that I injured when I fell in April. For the balance of this summer, I look forward to walking, not running!

I hope that WFP mounts a vigorous campaign, especially on the issue of education, pointing out that the Cuomo administration has tolerated highly inequitable funding, limited the ability of districts to tax themselves to meet their needs, and shown preference for charter schools–which enroll 3% of the state’s children–over public schools. Our children are our future.

The bloggers at valueaddedmeasureit.com have proposed what they call “the fight of the century” to replace “the fight of the century that wasn’t.”

They refer to the debate that never happened between Michelle Rhee and me.

They refer to efforts by Lehigh University to set up a debate between us on February 6, which did not happen because Rhee kept raising new demands and eventually backed out when she said she could not find a third debate partner.

They offer a few conditions that might make this debate actually happen.

See if you think they suggest a workable format.

Yesterday, the blog recorded 69,817 page views.

This was a record for the blog.

The single most-read blog was the breaking news from Indiana, alerting readers that Governor Pence was trying again to strip the powers of Glenda Ritz. Over 30,000 people read that entry.

Information is power. Stay informed.

John Merrow, who doggedly pursued the cheating scandal in D.C. here takes issue with someone named John Buntin who wrote of a fictional match-up between Michelle Rhee and me.

Merrow chides Buntin for ignorance of the facts that Merrow covered. He sent this letter, but got no reply:

“I have a couple of observations about your Rhee/Ravitch piece that I hope you don’t mind my sharing. The first is a minor quibble about the firing scene. We filmed that as part of my NewsHour coverage–we followed the young Chancellor for her entire three years in DC (12 NewsHour reports). Only later did we include it in our film for Frontline. I allowed Oprah to use the footage, and Davis Guggenheim appropriated it without our permission for “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” although he did eventually pay us for using it.
My second objection is substantial and has to do with Rhee’s record as Chancellor. Not long after she departed, USA Today broke the story of widespread erasures on the DC-CAS, the city’s standardized test, during Rhee’s first and second years. We covered that in our Frontline film.

“However, AFTER the film I obtained a copy of a confidential memo that made it clear just how much she knew of the erasures and how she failed to act. That is summarized here: http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6232

“While “Rhee vs. Ravitch” is a compelling headline and a sexy feature, it’s a roadblock to understanding American education. Ravitch is a passionate advocate who argues from facts. In contrast, Rhee’s policies were tried, and they failed. By almost every conceivable measure, the DC schools are no better than before her tenure. In key areas of student attendance, graduation rates, and principal and teacher turnover, they are worse. Central offices in abutting districts have shrunk, but DCPS’ has grown considerably. Even DC’s most recent gains on NAEP, which began 12-15 years BEFORE Rhee’s tenure, seem to have been fueled by an influx of better-educated families (gentrification) and quality pre-school. Here’s a summary: http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=6490

“I urge you to revisit this story. There is a titanic struggle going on in public education, one that is complex and deserving of coverage. Using Michelle Rhee as symbolic of ‘one side’ is misleading, unfortunately. Wendy Kopp and Teach for America might better represent one side and Ravitch another, although the issue has more than two sides.”

A good response from John Merrow. Read the whole thing as it is quite interesting.

Mr. Buntin, not known to me, should have covered–or pretended to cover–the debate I was supposed to have with Michelle Rhee on February 6 at Lehigh University. She agreed to the debate, agreed to the date but then began making demands about the format. First, she demanded that we needed seconds. She chose Rod Paige, who had been Secretary of Education in the George W. Bush administration. After a long silence and no signed contract, she required that we have two partners. My choices: Pasi Sahlberg of Finland and Helen Gym, parent leader from Philadelphia. Again a long silence. Rhee then cancelled, saying she could not find a second partner. All very puzzling.

I do my best to explain the assault on public education. It is unprecedented in American history. Public schools have always had critics, but never has there been a calculated effort to replace public schools with privately managed schools. And let’s be frank: that movement has succeeded because of bipartisan support and the availability of hundreds of millions–or billions, if you include Race to the Top–in government and private funding to undermine public education.

Here is a new interview, this one with “District Administration.”

Make no mistake. We can stop this movement if we recognize what is happening and unite.

Join your local or state group to support public education.

Contact the Network for Public Education, and we will help you find a state or local pro-public school group.

I earlier announced that I would be speaking on the evening of January 16 at Fox Lane School in Bedford, New York, but registration closed at 650 people.

FYI, in my experience, there are always no-shows. I have been to several events that were theoretically “sold out,” yet there were empty seats.

So, I would encourage you to come to the event and take your chances.

The event begins at 7:30 pm and is sponsored by the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. Admission is free.

If you want more information, write here: mguglielmo@wpsba.org

This is a wide-ranging interview with Christine Romans on CNN.

Romans has two school-age children, and I think she gets it.

It only takes about 3 minutes, and we cover a lot of ground.

I say things that are obvious and common sense but seldom heard on mainstream television.

I earlier posted that Michelle Rhee and I would debate at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania on February 6.

As you may recall, Rhee first demanded that we have two people on each team, then three people on each team.

I readily assented and selected a wonderful second and third for the debate.

Early on, Rhee said her second would be Rod Paige.

My choices were the Finnish educator Pasi Sahlberg (a visiting scholar at Harvard this year) and Philadelphia parent activist Helen Gym.

Rhee and I–through our agents– mutually agreed on the date.

However, the debate is off because Rhee says she cannot find a third partner.

This is the information I received from Lehigh.

I don’t know anything more, except that this debate will not happen.

I am very disappointed.

I was looking forward to it.

I think it would have been informative for all involved.

Thanks to all who sent expressions of support and concern. I read every one and appreciated them. You gave me the strength to get through the first days, which are the hardest. I even heard from people with whom I have had disagreements. I was humbled by the goodness that people expressed. We–including me–should all work harder to find the good and praise it rather than submit to the fault-finding, attacks, and meanness that now infests so much of our culture.

On the health stuff, the good news is that the diagnosis of walking pneumonia was a false positive, meaning the first x-ray was wrong. My lungs are clear. My job now is to take my blood-thinning medicine to dissolve the clots in my right leg, which are always dangerous. Luckily, I got medical treatment before the clots could go traveling to my lungs, heart, or brain.

What causes blood clots (in my case, deep vein thrombosis)? Too much air travel, too much inactivity. If you must fly (and I will), get up and walk around every half hour. Don’t let the blood pool in your legs. Drink a lot of water. But above all, walk up and down the aisles frequently.

I am home now, and I have an appointment to see a vascular specialist on Monday.

I won’t travel as often as I did in the past. I will blog and tweet as often as ever.

I plan to speak to school leaders on Long Island on November 19. I plan to speak to the Virginia Education Association on November 22 in Richmond. I will be in Las Vegas on December 6 to address the Association for Career and Technical Education and will stay a couple of extra days, not to gamble, but to adjust to the air travel.

On December 11, I will speak to parents and teachers at PS 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn. That’s the Patrick Daley School, named for its beloved principal who was killed in 1992 when he stepped into gang crossfire in a housing project while going to a student’s home to see if he was okay. All are welcome.

Be of good cheer. Thank you for the good you do in the world and never stop seeking the justice and freedom from want that we all need.

Diane

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