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

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Nationalize or Privatize? Does Ravitch Have a Preference?

I just finished looking over the Q&A from the Ed Week event, and here a couple of things that stood out:

1) Ravitch knows nothing or claims to know nothing about NCATE and what teacher preparation programs are doing in terms of subject matter focus:

Question from Jane Leibbrand, VP Communications, NCATE:
Diane, I must object to your answer to Stephen Grant in saying that having a national standard "might even persuade ed schools to care about teacher quality as it relates to subject matter." Diane, a majority of states now require a degree or the equivalent in subject matter. Candidates must know the subject they plan to teach to be recommended for licensure in accredited schools of education. Knowledge of subject matter is front and center, Standard 1, in NCATE's accreditation system. The problem comes when individuals who never planned to teach enter the system, usually teaching at-risk children in low-income areas. These individuals are not from 'ed schools.' Many teachers are also assigned to teach out-of-field. Ed schools are not responsible for this distribution problem. The entire education system must work to come up with reasonable solutions to this intractable problem. We can work at reallocating resources in the at-risk schools so that more adults are in the classroom with these students--student teachers, interns, career teachers, board certified teachers (as part-time supervisors), so that one unqualified teacher is not left on her or his own in a class of at-risk students.

Diane Ravitch:
Gosh, I have loads of scars from years of contending with ed schools on the issue of subject matter. If NCATE is now putting teachers' subject matter knowledge front and center, I am very happy to hear it.
And, 2) Ravitch would just as soon privatize as nationalize:

Question from Maria Estela Carrion:
The constitution limits the powers and duties of the federal government. Setting Education policy has always been a "right" of the state. What changes are needed to provide for this transfer of power to feds? What other arguments against national standards are state governors and officials putting forward?

Diane Ravitch:
As I mentioned before, I am not sure that this authority should be vested in the federal government or in a private entity. If it were in the federal government, it would not require a constitutional amendment, as the Constitution does not mention education. Yet we do have a federal Department of Education and many programs. We would need federal authorization by Congress to create such an activity. Which is why we might be better served by getting the whole activity into the private sector, minimizing political interference and dumbing down by politicians.

I guess if you are a corporate socialist, it really doesn't make much difference whether we have a national standard or a corporate standard.

1 comment:

  1. A fascist by implication if nothing else. Still, she has great things to say about the role of politics in the production of textbooks. She speaks truth about the role of the extremes in deciding content.