Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

Education Is Not Scalable

May 12, 2020 1 min read

To the Editor:

I enjoyed the video of Diane Ravitch (“Diane Ravitch in Her Own Words,” Education Week Video, April 10, 2020), a historian who has modified her perspective about education through the years. I’d like to broaden her perspective yet again.

Ravitch polarizes charter schools and other public schools and advocates shifting power to teachers’ unions, whose best efforts often stand as roadblocks to teacher excellence and response to student need. For example, United Teachers Los Angeles prioritized limiting the scope of teacher work in their district during the pandemic, leaving a three-week gap in services to students. What if the doctors’ and nurses’ unions had done the same?

I have worked as a teacher and principal in the trenches of public schools, a parochial school, a distinguished charter school, and in excellent private schools. I have witnessed students thrive or fail in privileged schools. I’ve seen charter schools provide power to underserved populations. I’ve seen district school mandates impede the work of sincere teachers who champion the agenda of educating all children.

I am neither for charter nor against public schools: I am for effective public schools. It’s not really about money, as Ravitch thinks.

I have seen firsthand that education is not scalable: A large district can buy toilet paper in bulk but cannot provide sensitive responses to kids and parents. Only a system that is agile enough to recognize needs and responsive enough to seek excellence will successfully address the cultural, learning, and economic differences among kids and families to close the gap we so want to mend.

Wendy Zacuto

Literacy Specialist and Educational Consultant

Playa del Rey, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the May 13, 2020 edition of Education Week as Education Is Not Scalable


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