In 2005, former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch wrote, "We should thank President George W. Bush and Congress for passing the No Child Left Behind Act ... All this attention and focus is paying off for younger students, who are reading and solving mathematics problems better than their parents' generation."
Four years later, Ravitch has changed her mind.
From the NPR interview transcript:
Prof. RAVITCH: Well, the Obama administration had 100 billion dollars in stimulus money for education and they set aside about five billion of that. And they said to the states, if you want to compete for this five billion dollars, you must do several things. One of the several things is that you must get rid of any limits on the number of privately managed charter schools. This is, I think, advancing privatization.
INSKEEP: What's wrong with charter schools?
Prof. RAVITCH: They remove students from the public sphere and turn them over to private management.
INSKEEP: Although, in some sense, they're public, right? They're under the auspices of the local government, even though it might be local parents or someone who manages the school.
Prof. RAVITCH: No, not really, because there's very little transparency with charter schools. You really dont know who's going on or what the salaries are. The basic point about charter schools is they're about 5,000 of them today and they range across the board from very, very fine schools to absolutely horrible schools, and the only national study that's been done said that 17 percent of the charter schools did better than the local public schools with which they were matched and 83 percent were either no different or worse. So we dont have any evidence that this is going to make it any better.. . . .
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972