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Thu Mar 24, 2016, 03:38 AM

So Many Children Left Behind: An Interview With Educational Reformer Diane Ravitch


In a recent interview, Secretary Ravitch expressed deep concern regarding the current presidential campaign’s profound lack of attention to the failing K-12 public school system and the abject failure of the last two administration’s attempts to mitigate the failures through an expanded program of privatization and a regime of costly and useless testing.

“For the past 15 years, the nation’s public schools have been victims of the failed federal policies of the Bush and Obama administrations,” said Ravitch. “15 years ago, Congress passed George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, which required that every child in every year from 3rd grade to 8th grade had to be tested. There’s no other country in the world that tests every child every year. It’s just on overload. No Child Left Behind was supposed to close the achievement gaps, raise the graduation rates, and do all kinds of wonderful things. But none of the things it was supposed to do came true. So it was ... it became a toxic brand.”

Ravitch and other critics of testing and choice assumed that, since the policy had failed so measurably under Bush Two, when Obama took the reins of power he would transform the policy. But according to Ravitch, the Obama administration put No Child Left Behind on steroids, and did so with the appointment of Arne Duncan, a charter school cheerleader, as Secretary of Education. Duncan pressed on with the policies of No Child Left Behind and expanded them under a new name, Race to the Top. According to Ravitch, it became a race to the bottom.

“When Obama ran for office many people, particularly educators thought he was going to change this policy, because it obviously failed,” said Ravitch. “Schools were being closed around the country based on No Child Left Behind. Almost all the schools that are closed are schools in poor communities. They are schools where black and brown children go, especially poor kids. Then Obama came in, brought in Arne Duncan as the Secretary of Education, and doubled down on No Child Left Behind. They announced a program called Race to the Top. And that turned out to be even more reliant on standardized testing than No Child Left Behind. At some point you have to realize the testing has driven education out of a classroom. Kids are spending hours and hours, weeks and months, preparing to take the test, because the tests are so consequential. Your school might be closed, the teachers might be fired, and the principal might be fired if the test scores don’t go up every year. So this is where we are. It’s been disastrous, and ... none of the candidates talk about education much. So Republicans want more of the same, and the Democrats hardly mention it at all.”

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Reply So Many Children Left Behind: An Interview With Educational Reformer Diane Ravitch (Original post)
eridani Mar 2016 OP
elleng Mar 2016 #1

Response to eridani (Original post)

Thu Mar 24, 2016, 11:52 AM

1. I too hoped things would change under President Obama,

and this has been my #1 disappointment with this administration. and with 3 little grands, it's more personally consequential for me and my family.

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