When Bill de Blasio ran for Mayor the first time, he sought my help. We met and spoke candidly. He told me he would strongly support traditional public schools. He said he would oppose the expansion of private charters into public school space. He promised to stop closing schools because of their test scores. His own children went to public schools. He would protect them and end the destructive tactics of Joel Klein, who coldly and cruelly closed schools over the tearful objections of students, parents, and teachers.
Very discouraging. Even when conscientious folks like Ravitch succeed in a major electoral campaign, the golden boy once again turns out to have feet of clay. Leftists have to be despairing of electoral politics, even on the local level, where activism is supposed to have more impact.
Destruction of public schools is a key agenda item for the 1%, but far from the whole picture. When de Blasio effectively pays fealty to the privatizers, it answers the question “Which side are you on?”
So much for de Blasio. It’s all downhill from here. But what lesson does this sad episode bear for activism? I don’t think you can say “so much for electoral politics” just yet, but bad results like electing de Blasio certainly validate the call for “diversity of tactics” - in case another angle might work better.
“The golden boy” and the real estate lobby are trying to force the li’l Jimmys to relocate to Jersey.
The li’l Jimmys only wanted some individual attention.
I’m at a loss here. Who is “Eva” referred to in the third paragraph as having billionaire backers?
Eva Moskowitz. Here’s her Wikipedia entry. I’m on the opposite coast here, but I believe there are lots of articles about her school privatization efforts. I’m not familiar with NY politics, but scrolling the Wikipedia page i noticed she is a Democrat.
Ms Ravitch, have read all y our articles over the past several years, and I share your core concerns about anchor schools in neighborhoods.
But I am still waiting for you to do the most important thing: shift your emphasis toward what you think we can do to dramatically improve teaching and learning in the schools we currently have. Your emphasis seems to be on keeping what we have, maintaining business as usual in the schools.
This emphasis prevents our close examination of how to upgrade professional skills and begin to graduate more people who can think. Our public schools have let us down for decades now–just look at average voter discernment, ability to process information, ability to think.
These are instructional issues, and they have little to do with money or job protectionism. Our public schools should be worth fighting for! Now get to work.
I’m going to respectfully disagree. Ms. Ravitch’s strength is history and policy, and the most important contribution she can make is helping stop the corporatization and privatization of public education. Speaking as an educational researcher and teacher educator, her greatest strength is not the nitty gritty of how public schools should be improved, but seeing through the agenda the billionaires and CEOs have for schools. If schools continue to be operated in the corporate image, there will be zero emphasis on developing thinking critical skills, and a whole lot of emphasis on mindless obedience. You have to stop the whole juggernaut, not just do isolated staff development, for if policy doesn’t steer public education in a fundamentally different direction, then public education becomes (remains) merely the handmaiden of large corporations and the 1%. But if Ravitch and others help stop these destructive policies, then there are others who are better about the nitty gritty of helping schools and teachers educate for citizenship, deep understanding, etc. But first this giant ship must be turned around, and until that happens, we’re just banging our heads on the wall telling future and prospective teachers to do the right thing, and they reply that they can’t given the political climate.
Thanks Karl. Sounds like we both want good things for the schools.
When you evaluate teachers on test scores you destroy education. No two school districts are exactly alike, rendering test score comparisons moot. But politically, the useful pawn idiots think teachers have it easy and should be evaluated using students’ test scores. The end of public education in America is coming thanks to these brain dead cretins.
Some tests, such as those looking at whether computational or language grade level skills have even been taught, let alone mastered, are valid. Completely. Some tests may be a waste of time. But “tests” have been yet another scapegoat, another externalized excuse that too many weak teachers use to justify the fact that students graduate without having achieved competence in much of anything. Ask any great teacher whether he/she is deterred by tests, or whether the existence of tests prevents them from mounting a curriculum that employs critical thinking activities all along the way and you will see what I mean. Public education does not need to come to an end. It needs to be improved. It has already been dumbed down for decades, so get with it.