***NEA’s highest honor goes to education historian with change of heart on No
Child Left Behind***
NEW ORLEANS—Friends sometimes are found in the most unlikely places. And that
seemed especially true today when NEA President Dennis Van Roekel presented the
organization’s highest honor—the NEA Friend of Education Award—to education
scholar Diane Ravitch, an architect of the Bush administration’s infamous No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001. With her recently published book, The Death and
Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining
Education, Ravitch is raising concerns over testing mania, school choice, and
charters—concepts she once embraced but clearly has left behind.
The fact that her book has received significant media attention means Ravitch is
reframing the national debate over how best to improve our nation’s public
schools. Her change of heart is significant because as part of the conservative
wing of the education world, she was an assistant secretary in President George
H.W. Bush’s administration. She currently serves as a research professor of
education at New York University and is a Senior Fellow at Brookings
“Diane Ravitch did one of the bravest, most honest things a human being can do:
she looked at the facts and admitted that she had been wrong,” said Van Roekel.
“It is a testament both to her academic integrity as well as to her deep concern
for America’s public school students that she changed her position as the facts
warranted. She is indeed a true friend to all of America’s students.”
The Friend of Education Award, presented each year during NEA’s Annual Meeting
and Representative Assembly, recognizes a person or organization whose
leadership, acts or support have significantly contributed to the improvement of
American public education.
“I am thrilled to receive this prestigious award from the NEA, representing more
than three million of our nation’s wonderful, hard-working educators,” said
Ravitch follows influential education policy writer and researcher Dr. Linda
Darling-Hammond, who was named the 2009 NEA Friend of Education. Others who have
received this honor include U.S. Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, and
William Jefferson Clinton; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; Speaker
of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.); and U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W.
Riley and the late Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-Mass.).