Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Bipartisan Consensus Around Bad Ideas


Dear Graders:

Valerie Strauss has conducted a compelling E-mail interview with educational historian Diane Ravitch, Ravitch criticizes the current prevailing educational theories being pushed by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama: “Yet everyone — teachers, parents, administrators — feels helpless, not knowing where to turn because they are now up against a bipartisan consensus around bad ideas. . . . The biggest mistake they have made is that they bought into the consensus around high-stakes testing, this NCLB belief that someone must be punished if scores don’t rise every year, especially ‘bad’ teachers. . . . I would urge him [President Obama] to stop using language of failing, punishing, closing, and firing and speak instead of improving, building, supporting, and encouraging.”

The local connection, of course, is that these bad theories are exactly those promoted by Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Mayor Fenty (and, according to his own rhetoric about supporting “school reform,” by Council Chairman Gray). Ravitch says “the emphasis on evaluating teachers will simply produce more teaching to the test, more narrowing the curriculum, more gaming the system,” and that teachers and parents are perfectly aware of that, but that politicians of the left and right have joined to support these faddish bad theories.

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