Federal Opinion

Is Diane Ravitch Insulting Teachers? Who Speaks for Us?

By Anthony Cody — June 09, 2011 2 min read
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Last week, in the pages of the New York Times, Diane Ravitch went after the most sacred of cows of the education “reform” movement -- the supposed “miracle schools” that prove the reforms actually work.

Columinist Jonathan Alter offered a rebuttal that was carried in a media outlet owned by leading education “reformer,” New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. But his approach was to attack Diane Ravitch, and had little substance. It was immediately rebutted by dozens of commenters (including me -- see here.)

Duncan himself was compelled to respond -- the only thing more significant would have been if Obama himself had responded. And in his response, Duncan presumed to speak for teachers, saying, “Diane Ravitch is in denial and she is insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country who are proving her wrong every day.”

Jonathan Alter has been on the defensive since, and his performance in a debate with Diane Ravitch on David Sirota’s radio show yesterday was unconvincing. You can listen here to the Wednesday, June 8 show.

Other education “reformers” like Michael Petrilli of the Hoover Institute have responded by actually defending Ravitch on the merits, and trying to walk balk some of the preposterous mandates of NCLB to more realistic levels -- again, met with a chorus of comments that demand real reform.

The remarkable thing in this event is not simply the fact that there is a debate here. It is how one-sided the debate has become. The “reformers” all seem to be sponsored flacks, and I am seeing virtually NOBODY speak up in defense of their project. Alter tweeted “the point of Diane’s column was to discredit the progress those teachers have made.” So far as I know, no teachers have spoken up to say they were offended.

When reporters pointed out the huge negative response that Arne Duncan’s letter to teachers got a month ago, press secretary Justin Hamilton responded that “It’s disappointing to hear that someone feels that way, but we don’t think that’s how the broader teaching community feels about it.”

So here is a challenge.
I would really like to hear from any educators - people actually working in our schools, and not on the payroll of Michael Bloomberg, Arne Duncan, or Bill Gates, who take issue with Diane Ravitch’s critique of education “reform.”

If there is a silent majority out there, as the Department of Education seems to think, here is your invitation to speak up. I offer the comment space below, and if you would like to write a full blog post, I offer that as well, without censorship or editorializing.

And if you agree with Diane Ravitch, please say so as well.

What do you think? Has the debate over education “reform” become one-sided? Are there teachers out there who support the policies of the Department of Education?

The opinions expressed in Living in Dialogue are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.