Opinion
Federal Opinion

The Lesson of Florida

By Diane Ravitch — April 20, 2010 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Dear Deborah,

As I write this, I am concluding a week of book-touring, and what a week it has been!

I started in Chicago, where I spoke at DePaul University, the University of Illinois, Catalyst, and the National School Boards Association. At NSBA, I was in a concurrent session, but well over 1,000 people showed up, and security guards closed the doors when there were no more chairs.

I flew to California and spoke at UCLA, Stanford, and Berkeley.

At UCLA, the audience included a large contingent of young teachers from Fremont High School, which is bring “transformed” or “turned around.” They asked me to help save their school, TO GIVE THEIR plea to Los Angeles Superintendent Ramon Cortines, which I did.

At Stanford, the first question came from a teacher in Salinas who teaches the children of migrant workers; she burst into tears as she said that “they” are about to close HER school where the teachers are working hard to instruct a transient and high-needs enrollment.

At Berkeley, a few hours before I spoke, I learned the great news that Governor Charlie Crist of Florida had vetoed the horrible law that would have made test scores the single largest determinant of teacher compensation. My cell phone (which is my traveling computer) immediately began to overflow with emails from Florida, expressing joy and relief.

Teachers, parents, and friends of public education understand that the Crist veto is not the end of the battle. The struggle is now engaged, as misinformed legislators seek to impose punitive measures on educators, thinking that such actions will help them win Race to the Top funding.

I tell my audiences that Race to the Top will turn out to be a poison pill for American education. It is based on the same “measure and punish” philosophy as No Child Left Behind.

The one bright aspect to the events in Florida is that teachers and parents there HAVE shown what can happen when people organize and take concerted political action. Despite the powerful, well-funded forces ready to destroy the teaching profession, the teachers and parents of Florida prevailed.

The friends of public education in Florida provided people a powerful lesson: united we stand, divided we fall. The education deformers have behind them the resources of hedge-fund managers and financial titans, but the friends of public education have something even more potent: they have people power.

Everywhere I go, the same questions come up: Who will step up and lead the vast and widespread opposition to current policies? Who will give voice to the disempowered teachers, parents, administrators, and school board members who know we are headed in the wrong direction?

Where is the political leader who will take this struggle to the next level?

Diane

The opinions expressed in Bridging Differences 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.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Feds to Probe Whether Texas Ban on School Mask Mandates Violates Disability Rights Laws
The Education Department has already opened investigations in six other states that ban universal school mask requirements.
2 min read
A staff member holds the door open for kids on the first day of school at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas on Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.
A staff member holds the door open at Goodwin Frazier Elementary School in New Braunfels, Texas in 2020. This year, Texas has prohibited school districts from requiring all students to wear masks.
Mikala Compton/Herald-Zeitung via AP
Federal New Federal Team to Work on Puerto Rico School Improvement, Oversight
The Puerto Rico Education Sustainability Team will focus on creating better learning environments and improving financial management.
3 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits the Emilio Delgado School in Corozal on June 30, 2021 during a visit to Puerto Rico.
Teresa Canino Rivera/GDA via AP
Federal Pandemic Tests Limits of Cardona's Collaborative Approach as Education Secretary
He's sought the image of a veteran educator among former peers, but COVID has forced him to take a tough stance toward some state leaders.
10 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during their visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona and Schools Chancellor Meisha Porter speak to Mia Arias, 10, during a visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP
Federal White House Launches Hispanic Education Initiative Led by Miguel Cardona
President Joe Biden said his administration intends to address the "systemic causes" of educational disparities faced by Hispanic students.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona writes down and draws positive affirmations on poster board with students during his visit to P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school, Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021 in New York.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona visits students in New York City at P.S. 5 Port Morris, a Bronx elementary school in the Bronx last month.
Brittainy Newman/AP