"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, November 07, 2005

Historians Who Ignore History

Apparently the national corporationist agenda of turning public money over to businesses to run the public schools has taken on a new urgency. The evidence is in Dianne Ravitch’s stalking-horse op-ed in the New York Times, where she attempts to provide academic credibility to the idea of using NAEP test data to prove the failure of the public schools, rather than the data produced by the state testing systems.

It seems that the states, many of them hoping that NCLB’s impossible demands will be modified or flushed before the day of reckoning in 2014, are devising strategies that allow the majority of their schools to meet AYP in the short term (click here for more on this), thus avoiding the unfunded mandates attached to federal sanctions that are now the subject of court challenges in a number of states against NCLB. In short, the education privatizers can’t wait until 2014 for the planned demonstration of public school failure, because they have begun to sense (and with good reason) that the American people are awakening from their 9-11 induced stupor, making it possible for them to see what is happening to their children and their schools as a result of the testing obsession led by the corporationists now in charge of federal education policy.

Just a few weeks ago, it was Standard and Poor’s, a subsidiary of McGraw-Hill, making the same suggestion (click here for more) that Ravitch has trotted out today for the more dependable NAEP data. What is so typical of the current Washington ED regime is that, instead of admitting that their NCLB policy bludgeon has done nothing to improve NAEP scores, it chooses to blame the states for developing testing policies that hope to assure the survival of their public schools until the testing hysteria cools. This is the equivalent of blaming the current Iraqi Army for the mayhem in Baghdad.

What is not typical, however, is to see someone like Ravitch, a respected historian of education, ignore the many examples of past and present fear-mongering to now promote ideological agendas of elected power brokers at the expense of the facts. In doing so, she puts herself squarely alongside another prominent education historian, Elwood P. Cubberley, whose enthusiasm for social engineering during the heydey of the eugenics movement came to outweigh his dedication to the historical truth.

Click here for some further thoughts on the Ravitch op-ed by TeacherKen.

Jim Horn

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