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

Monday, September 19, 2016

Publishing My Email Exchanges with D. Ravitch, Part 1

Dear Diane,

I saw your new blog post yesterday that shows your earnestness to depict me as an out-of-control sexist bully who is out to get you:
Jim Horn has a website called “Schools Matter.” He opposes corporate reform, as I do.
I have never met him. I hear he doesn’t like me. I don’t know why. I thought we were fighting for the same goals.

The first time I became aware of his hostility was when he posted a photograph of me with the caption, “Nice face job, Diane.” Very puzzling as I have never had a facelift. Sexist too. I ignored him.

When Anthony Cody and I decided to create the Network for Public Education, aiming to build alliances among the many individuals and groups fighting against corporate reform, we selected a board and announced our existence. Horn emailed to say that he was going to attack us because we included a much admired NBCT African American teacher from Mississippi. Horn discovered that she had written an article praising merit pay. Many emails went back and forth among him, Anthony, and me. He decided not to poison us at our birth.

But he has an intense and personal animus towards me. Again, I can’t explain it. I don’t know why. . . .

Diane, Diane, you surprise me with your amateurish dissembling.  I have seen much better from you over the years. 

Surely you remember crowing about a review that I did of your book in 2013.  Yes?  No, well here's the link.

Do you not remember, Diane, the email exchange we had after I came to hear you speak (twice in one day) at William & Mary in October 2010?  Surely you remember those emails the following January, especially the email wherein you joked about that earlier blog post that I did that  included this parenthetical "(nice facelift, Diane)." 

It was the same email exchange that included my apology for any offense I might have caused you.  Let me jog your memory.  And if you would like to see screen shots of the original emails, I have those, too.
On Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 1:56 PM, James Horn ‪<ontogenyx@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Diane:

First I want to thank you for the work you are doing on behalf of public schools and the Republic, itself.  Prior to your publishing the Fall and Rise . . . book, I was one of your most ardent critics.  Nothing personal, I hope you know, but an extension of my long-standing resistance to the destruction of public schools and the possibility of an inclusive, integrated society.

I only wish that Jerry Bracey had lived to read your book and hear your speeches, even though I know he was aware of your moving away from the NCLB madness in the months prior to his death.

I was at the CREATE conference in Williamsburg in October, where I heard you speak.  I am probably one of the few people who have heard your cogent railing twice in one day, for I heard you, too, at Wm and Mary later in the day.  Really powerful.

I am wondering if you have a copy of your speech from Wm and Mary.  I am writing a book that is part intellectual autobiography, part research study (my LEAP research providing the core of the book), and part history of ed reform ideas.  I would like to quote from your Wm and Mary presentation if I may.

Lastly, I want to reiterate my take on the importance of your book.  It was YOUR courage and YOUR voice that has given the supporters of democratic living and learning hope that we may, indeed, prevail in the end.  Well, survive, at least.

Best regards,
Jim Horn

On Jan 9, 2011, at 2:18 PM, Diane Ravitch wrote:

Dear Jim,

Thanks for your note. I don't blame you for criticizing me in the past. I would do it myself, if I read now what I had written then. This gets verbally convoluted, but I often say to people that I don't mind if they disagree with me, because I disagree with me too. If that makes sense!

I didn't know you were at Wm&Mary and CREATE. You should have introduced yourself, and I might have complained about when you wrote that I had a facelift. If only!

It was a challenge to come up with two different presentations to what would be an overlapping audience. 

I will send you the Wm&Mary speech tomorrow or the next day. I am not at home, and the speech is on my home computer.

It is hard to understand how things got as bad as they are; I happen to think that Duncan bears a lot of responsibility. Republicans do what they do, and teachers understand that. What they can't understand is why they have no allies in a Democratic administration, and why this Secretary cheers whenever teachers' VAA scores are published.

I'd love to talk to Jerry Bracey now. And to Ted Sizer. American education lost two of its best thinkers when they are most needed.


On Sun, Jan 9, 2011 at 6:15 PM, James Horn ‪<ontogenyx@gmail.com> wrote:
Dear Diane,

You don't miss a beat, I can tell that.  I guess you could interpret my earlier speculation as a reluctant acknowledgement that you are looking great, an observation shared widely enough to be taken as fact.

It seems to me that the Dems made a calculated choice to let the BBC run the federal ed show, in exchange for massive continuing contributions.  I think you can see this yielding to corporate power on other issues as well, from health care to environmental policy to war (there are as many or more contractors now  in Iraq and Afghanistan as there are troops).  

With the SCOTUS decision regarding the status of corporations and their new capacity for unlimited contributions, every pol in Washington is to some degree marching to the same drummer.  The ideological wars make for great theatre in the media, but the real political choices come down to either Wal-Mart or Target.  

The Dems know that unions have no place to go politically, so they can continue to take them for granted, even as union leaders snuggle with the oligarchs.  We need a Teddy Roosevelt in the worst way, and Obama ain't no Roosevelt.  More Charles W. Eliot than Teddy Roosevelt. Meanwhile, Broad and Gates are unleashed to make their corporate messes that someone will have to clean up.  

In truth, all of this worries me less than than the phytoplankton levels and the rate of permafrost melting.  The real education reform should be to educate the world on taking action today, that or learning to die with dignity.  To avoid, as Ted Turner so inelegantly put it, eating each other.

Thanks in advance for sending me your speech.  


On January 10, 2011 at 6:44 PM, Diane Ravitch wrote:


I haven't looked at this [the Wm & Mary speech]. There may be portions that are just notes, not written out.

I hope it is helpful.
Sound sort of sweet, doesn't it?  Now do you remember me? We had many exchanges of emails, in fact.  I'm sorry you don't remember them.
But let's get to the more inflammatory and defamatory charge that you have made, that I was going to attack you and Anthony Cody because of my hostility toward an African-American woman who you chose as a Board member for NPE?  Is that the way you remember it?  

Stay tuned to the next installment of emails that will help you recall those events. 

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