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

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Ravitch Waves Goodbye to Common Core and Throws Kisses to Dennis and Randi

I read both of Diane Ravitch's books that she wrote after her conversion experience and subsequent surrender of her honored chair with the boys at Hoover/Koret/Fordham, and I kept looking to find out the real history of American corporate education reform, the one that Diane had ignored in every one of her books prior to her conversion.  What I found in her newer books was more or less a watered down version of Jerry Bracey's scorching critique that he had been offering for many of those years that Ravitch had remained an avid and loyal fan of privatization, testing accountability, and corporate education policy. Nothing on the sausage making of DC ed policy or anything that could be vaguely embarrassing for any of the conservative luminaries with whom she broke bread for so many years.

In either of Diane's newest books, we never find any of the dead bodies or skeletons, none of the insider knowledge of the juggernaut's inner workings, not a word on the cynical crafting of NCLB into a guaranteed failure production line for the charter industry.  Nothing about the phonics fanatics who got fat as dog ticks on Reading First cash, nothing on who was driving the alt cert programs to replace teacher preparation programs, not a word about the conversations of ideological warriors leading the crusade against the concept of public education, no details about the meetings of the Common Core inner circle, which included David Coleman and Diane, and nothing about who was behind farming out education policy to the corporate foundations.  Who else besides Diane Ravitch was advocating in 2006 (3 years before Obama) "we might be better served by getting the whole activity [ed policy] into the private sector, minimizing political interference and dumbing down by politicians."

I can only guess that such diving back into the neocon policy dumpster could be a dirty job, a task not in line with the well-honed image of the matriarch of moderation or the less obvious role as patronizer and placater of the corporate education resistance movement. Until such time that Diane decides to do a little deeper historical excavation, we, apparently, must be satisfied with her saccharine and misleading fantasies about NEA and AFT misleadership standing up for teachers. 

As the corporate crumb, Dennis Van Roekel, prepares to float into retirement on a golden parachute paid for with union dues and that teachers who actually work cannot even imagine, Diane waves sweetly and bids him adieu.  Meanwhile, she waxes almost poetic in wishing that Dennis and Randi would urge teachers to stand up against corporate socialists.  I wish, I wish, I wish she says,

I wish, I wish, I wish that he and Randi and every teacher leader would shout from the rooftops that what is happening now under the misguided “leadership” of the Obama administration will not stand! I wish they would recognize that Arne Duncan is a tool of DFER, and that the Obama administration has outsourced American education to the Gates Foundation. I wish they would issue a call for teachers to stand together to say NO to policies that hurt children, such as the Common Core tests that last for 8-10 hours. I want them to be angry and determined and proud and determined. I wish. I wish.
As Diane wishes and wishes, Randi is on the road advocating for using test score evaluation systems to fire teachers.  Here is a clip from Randi in Aspen, where she engaged in a kissing contest with John Deasy:

“At the end of the day, when you have a budget cut of 1,000 teachers, that’s the problem. The problem is yes, we should have real evaluation systems, and if you have people who are unsatisfactory they shouldn’t be kept, but when you have cuts of that magnitude.. THAT is the problem.”
When will Ravitch use some of her influence to demand leadership at the NEA and AFT that will do something more than shout from the rooftop?  When will she actually lead the revolution that she now wishes for?  Or is that just more wishing?

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