Archives for category: Ravitch, Diane

Okay, so I wrote this post on my iPhone, using the WordPress app, and as I should have expected, the content disappeared.

It is a flaw in WordPress.

This is the speech I gave to the SOS March on July 8.

If you have five minutes to spare, you might enjoy watching.

The resistance continues, and the movement grows stronger!

I owe a special debt to my alma mater, Wellesley College. The college accepted me in 1956, coming from San Jacinto High School in Houston, an unpolished, unsophisticated 17-year-old who wanted to make a difference in the world but didn’t know where to start. My four years at Wellesley changed my life. I acquired a bit of polish, a smidgeon of sophistication (my friends would say, none or very little, actually), and a great education. It took a while to figure out where and how to make a difference, but I eventually did figure it out. After marriage and children, I entered graduate school, studied with Lawrence Cremin, the nation’s most outstanding historian of education, and found my niche.

This Thursday, I will be speaking at Wellesley and inaugurating a lecture series that I endowed. Its theme is: “Education and the Public Good.” I have also endowed opportunities for student research and internships, as well as other activities that promote scholarship and understanding of current issues in education. Knowing the idealism and brilliance of the students it attracts, I am hopeful that Wellesley will become a center that produces women devoted to advancing the common good and the public interest. Wellesley graduates enter many fields, including education, government, business, law, medicine, science, engineering, philanthropy, and finance. Wherever they are, I hope that what they learn in college will imbue them with a commitment to improving the lives of all children and investing in our shared future. There is a huge reservoir of intellect, character, and wisdom at Wellesley. My hope is that this great resource will advance our common purposes, our public purposes, now and in future generations of students.

I am speaking at 7 p.m. and all are welcome. The event will be live streamed.

Here is the College’s announcement:

Watch the live webcast of the inaugural Diane Silvers Ravitch ’60 Lecture on Thursday, October 22 at 7:30 PM EST.

Wellesley College is proud to welcome Diane Ravitch ’60 for the inaugural lecture in a new series of talks on current issues in public education. Ravitch is a leading national advocate for public schools who is ranked at the top of Education Week’s 2015 listing of influential scholars. In her presentation, entitled How to Ruin or Revive Public Education, she will discuss how testing and privatization are damaging children, teachers, schools, and communities, and are threatening public education as a common good.

Author of the New York Times bestsellers The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement, and many other books and articles on education history and policy, Ravitch also maintains a popular blog with nearly 23 million page reviews. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor under President George H.W. Bush, and was later appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by President Bill Clinton.

Please join us in the Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall Auditorium, Thursday, October 22 at 7:30 PM, or watch How to Ruin or Revive Public Education streamed live.

Wellesley College
106 Central Street | Wellesley, MA 02481
781.283.2373 | wellesley.edu/events

Long-time readers of this blog know that we have had a more or less steady procession of trolls who have inhabited these precincts. They lurk. They come and go. Some are grumpy. Some argue; some take a thread and take it off point. Some are annoying. I leave them alone so long as they live within the rules of the blog (no insulting your host because you are in my living room, no cursing, no conspiracy-mongering, a basic level of civility—and no monopolizing the comments section).

I have never asked others who blog what they do with their trolls. I just play it by ear. On severe; occasions, I have banned them when they broke the rules. Sometimes I put them in a queue to moderate their comments before they are posted to make sure they don’t continue their bad behavior. I give them a warning before there are consequences. But I am generally very tolerant.

It turns out that there are people who actually study troll behavior and offer advice about how to deal with them. The New York Times recently published an article on “the epidemic of facelessness.” This is a phenomenon new to our age, in which people communicate without having face-to-face contact. Much online interaction is between complete strangers. Online interactions can sometimes allow people–in their anonymity–to unleash a level of rage and hostility that they would never express in a face-to-face encounter. Some people have received death threats or rape threats online from total strangers, which happens to be criminal activity.

Stephen Marche writes:

What do we do with the trolls? It is one of the questions of the age. There are those who argue that we have a social responsibility to confront them. Mary Beard, the British historian, not only confronted a troll who sent her misogynistic messages, she befriended him and ended up writing him letters of reference. One young video game reviewer, Alanah Pearce, sent Facebook messages to the mothers of young boys who had sent her rape threats. These stories have the flavor of the heroic, a resistance to an assumed condition: giving face to the faceless.

The more established wisdom about trolls, at this point, is to disengage. Obviously, in many cases, actual crimes are being committed, crimes that demand confrontation, by victims and by law enforcement officials, but in everyday digital life engaging with the trolls “is like trying to drown a vampire with your own blood,” as the comedian Andy Richter put it. Ironically, the Anonymous collective, a pioneer of facelessness, has offered more or less the same advice.

Rule 14 of their “Rules of the Internet” is, “Do not argue with trolls — it means that they win.

Rule 19 is, “The more you hate it the stronger it gets.”

Ultimately, neither solution — confrontation or avoidance — satisfies. Even if confrontation were the correct strategy, those who are hounded by trolls do not have the time to confront them. To leave the faceless to their facelessness is also unacceptable — why should they own the digital space simply because of the anonymity of their cruelty?

There is a third way, distinct from confrontation or avoidance: compassion. The original trolls, Scandinavian monsters who haunted the Vikings, inhabited graveyards or mountains, which is why adventurers would always run into them on the road or at night. They were dull. They possessed monstrous force but only a dim sense of the reality of others. They were mystical nature-forces that lived in the distant, dark places between human habitations. The problem of contemporary trolls is a subset of a larger crisis, which is itself a consequence of the transformation of our modes of communication. Trolls breed under the shadows of the bridges we build.

In a world without faces, compassion is a practice that requires discipline, even imagination. Social media seems so easy; the whole point of its pleasure is its sense of casual familiarity. But we need a new art of conversation for the new conversations we are having — and the first rule of that art must be to remember that we are talking to human beings: “Never say anything online that you wouldn’t say to somebody’s face.” But also: “Don’t listen to what people wouldn’t say to your face.”

Given the national reach of the blog, I won’t be inviting any trolls for dinner. But there is an important point here: face-to-face contact tends to dissipate the rage that anonymity and facelessness promote. There is no way to make that happen, unfortunately. So we should just bear with one another, listen to those who join with us to argue every last point, be patient, be civil, and don’t jump to judgment.

You might (or might not) enjoy watching this 7-minute interview I did with former teacher Bob Greenberg. Bob has created a large archive of interviews like this one. It was filmed in my living room. The collection is called “The Brainwaves.” He sets up a camera and says “talk.” He doesn’t ask questions or interrupt.

Last year, when I spoke in Indianapolis to the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, I was interviewed by Gregory J. Marchant, professor of educational psychology at Ball State University. He published the interview, and it was recently selected as the most read article in the journal in 2014. Greg asked some penetrating questions about my personal journey in the world of education research. You might find it interesting to read. He is a good interviewer, and I was very colloquial, as I tend to be.

I spoke at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania on February 10. Originally Lehigh invited me and Michelle Rhee to debate, but after long and fruitless negotiations, she dropped out. (First she wanted a second on the stage; I agreed. Then she wanted a third on the stage; I agreed. Then she said she couldn’t find a third, and she canceled). So I decided to present a mock debate between me and “Mr. Reformer.” Of course, I had all the best lines and more of them; as I explained, that’s what happens to the side that doesn’t show up.

 

Lehigh made a video, which Is here. If you prefer to read instead of watch, this is a very good summary of the main points.

 

Lehigh plans to invite Mr. or Ms. Reformer to speak in a future session, in which he or she will get all the good lines.

You probably know all this, but if not, you might find this interview of interest. I was interviewed by Nika Wright of Guernica magazine.

Thanks to John Ogozalek, a teacher in upstate New York, who alerted me to this peculiar (but not surprising) phenomenon.

 

John googled my name and the first thing to pop us was an ad for Teach for America.

 

I tried it, and this was the first listing under my name:

 

Dianeravitch – 7 Things You Should Know About Us‎
Adwww.teachforamerica.org/On-The-Record‎
Teach For America On The Record.

 

Don’t they have better things to do with their money?

I will be speaking this evening at 6:30 p.m. to Tennessee Mama Bears, Tennessee BATs, and TREES. If you want to come and talk education, check the press release, which will direct you to the Facebook page of the TREEs, which will divulge where I am speaking.

 

Tomorrow I will speak to the national convention of the Association for Career and Technical Education at 8:30 a.m. at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

 

Hope I see you at one of these events.

Thank you to Linda Hall of Connecticut for spotting this wall-sized graffiti in Hartford, Connecticut, which apparently is directly across the street from Capitol Prep Magnet School, the school managed by Steve Perry, outspoken critic of public schools, teachers, and unions.

When I spoke at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, I met the artist who created this wonderful graffiti. His name is Kris Schmolze. He is not only an artist but was formerly an art instructor at Perry’s school in Hartford.

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