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

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Today's Communique to the Ravitch Forces

After what seems to me to have been a pretty effective skirmish, the Ravitch forces have climbed out of their tent at their permanent Basecamp, stomping the ground and waving their, um, whatevers.  For those Ravitch acolytes who are not too drunk on revenge to read, here's something to ponder, as I am working on a next book today and don't have time to attend to your whining.

In everything I have seen from D. Ravitch and the band of intellectual eunuchs who comprise the NPE echo chamber, a theme stands out, which is that we cannot afford to fight among ourselves, that allies cannot be ripped asunder, that we must stick together in the same tent, blah blah. So let me speak to Diane directly here, and I hope that all of her disciples will read this carefully.

The problem is, Diane, our goals are not the same. My goals are ending testing accountability in all forms, ending segregated classrooms in all forms, and ending corporate education reform in all forms. I can't work toward those goals with any effect while misleaders like you and the union suits are cutting deals on ESSA to guarantee another generation of testing accountability, segregated classrooms, and corporate control.  Have you read the history of NCLB?

We are on different sides of these issues, regardless of how much braying and foot stomping you are able to stir up. We are not allies. I am your enemy. Get used to it.


  1. Jim, as a fan of both you and Dr. Ravitch, I believe that you're a bit misguided here, and, just from a strategic level, impractical and counter-productive to the goals which you and all opponents of corporate education reform seek to achieve. As an avid reader of both your writings and Ravitch's --- indeed, of pretty much everything that both of you have written in the last several years --- I think there exists way more common ground than you are aware of, or perhaps are willing or able to recognize.

    The battle over the future --- nay, the very survival --- of public education would benefit from people who do have such common ground working together whenever and wherever that is possible. Referring to anyone with whom you may disagree as "your enemy" or as "eunuchs" is, I believe, not the way to go.

    Rising above differences, and uniting whenever and wherever it is possible to do so, I believe, is the better way to go.

    You say that your goal is to save children from three things: "another generation of testing accountability, segregated classrooms, and corporate control. Have you read the history of NCLB?"

    Well, Jim, I could literally post hundreds of links from Ravitch's blog with articles written by Dr. Ravitch, and/or written by others to whom Dr. Ravitch introduces and to whom her blog links which vociferously condemn all of those three things, and NCLB.

    Like you, I'm pissed at Randi and Lily for not taking a more militant, oppositional approach to corporate education reform, but I also do whatever I can at the local level, the state level, and at the NEA-RA conventions to push our unions in that direction.

    1. Jack,

      Thanks for your note and your kind remarks re my work.

      First, I should say that I did not call Ravitch my enemy but, rather, I pointed out that I am her enemy, and I became her enemy by the policy positions that she has embraced. By her backing of ESSA’s massive stimuli for more segregated corporate charter schools, big data, CBE, and unending testing accountability, Ravitch has demonstrated that we are on entirely different missions. She has put her support behind another generation of CorpEd reforms, while continuing to pretend that she is against all the bad elements that her policy choices have clearly embraced.

      In short, she is aligned with my values only when it comes to talk and only when that talk cannot matter. When it did matter and does matter, i. e., when education policy is being defined for the next decade at least, she has made everyone who is against privatization, segregation, and testing accountability her enemy. Eventually, that reality will sink in. The sooner the better, for until then, lots of passionate people will continue to be diverted from acting by a whole lot of empty, tough talk that maintains the status quo that some call reform.

  2. Anonymous7:12 PM

    In Newark, AFT affiliate NTU is sponsoring a gofundme page ostensibly to solicit donations to further its union work of defending public education. Had Weingarten not invested large sums of money in spurious endeavors like the Clinton campaign, there might be some change left in the coffers to defend teachers under attacks that show no signs of abetting. Opt Out has run its course. The dangers faced by public education from the All Technology All the Time Consortium of hedge fund billionaires and Silicon Valley Mavens are far graver than the annual test and punish regimen. The goal apparently is to wrest control from teachers and administrators in possession of heart and soul in favor of the cruel viscitudes of allegedly free market forces. There is no bargaining with the devil. Supporting ESSA and Opt Out simultaneously is an intellectual inconsistency of the highest order. The evils being perpetrated on children in impoverished urban communities with Newark as a glaring template are unspeakable.

    Abigail Shure

  3. This is quite an indictment, Mike. Are you saying Diane Ravitch is "cutting deals" (with whom) on ESSA? Are you accusing her of being crooked and lying about her true goals?

    1. Diane Ravitch put her enthusiastic support behind the reauthorization that came to be known as ESSA. ESSA will assure another decade at least of testing accountability made worse with personalized learning, "no excuses" charter schools made much more numerous, and resegregated classrooms left to fester, and for which ESSA has nothing at all to say. Before ESSA was passed, most teachers and parents who are against corporate reform believed her when she said, "One may quibble with details, but the bottom line is that this bill defangs the U.S. Department of Education; it no longer will exert control over every school with mandates. This bill strips the status quo of federal power to ruin schools and the lives of children and educators. . . .This is a far better bill than I had hoped or feared."

      I don't know what Diane "hoped or feared," but the mandates have not stopped in ESSA. That is simply a lie. Annual testing is still required, and the bottom 5 percent of schools must be "turned around." How better to do that than with the hundreds of millions that ESSA provides in charter stimulus? As for ruining lives of children and teachers, ESSA puts that power in the hands of states, which is what Diane's pal, Lamar Alexander wanted 15 years ago when NCLB was passed.

      Ravitch is ruthless operator, who has chosen to stand on the side of the Clintons, the corporate unions, and their Wall Street supporters. In doing so, her alliances are clear. They are not with the teachers and children who are the victims of the corporate education genocide that continues with her support.

    2. I'm confused, #madrepitimpe: where did I make any charges against anyone?

  4. Tried to post this to Diane Ravitch's piece about your comments above, but I think I've reached "moderated" or "blocked" status on her blog for refusing to simply roll over to the "Trump is Satan; vote for Hillary" viewpoint that she promotes there.

    "@lauren wrote: "I have no idea what he stands for but his misogyny and bullying identify him as an enemy.
    shame on you, mr horn."

    First, on what grounds are we concluding that Jim Horn is a misogynist? Can someone find a source that equates "face job" with "face lift"? I could not. I found an urban dictionary definition that you might want to check; it doesn't have it as a synonym for "face lift," nor could I find "face job" under synonyms for "face life." Of course, I checked a finite number of online resources and may have missed one or more that back up the "face-lift" interpretation. Until I see one, I"m reserving judgment. I wonder why I seem to be the only person here who is doing so.

    As for the notion that Jim Horn is some lightweight in the fight against educational deform and privatization, readers who haven't already decided that he is the Donald Trump of this debate might want to take a moment to check out his 2013 book THE MISMEASURE OF EDUCATION (co-written by Denise Wilburn) and the 2016 volume Work Hard, Be Hard: Journeys Through "No Excuses" Teaching. I have a review of the former on Amazon and am reading the second one now with an intent to review it as well. Coincidentally, Amazon recommends something called REIGN OF ERROR as a co-purchase with the first book. Go know.

    Was what he wrote to Diane abrasive? Clearly so. And yet it's not totally off the mark. Commenters here are not exactly above hurling epithets now, are they? I don't see a lot of folks well-positioned to cast the sinless first stone at Jim Horn. And if his method is so offensive, shouldn't the focus be on correcting substantive errors, not attacking his character or playing armchair psychoanalyst about his alleged motives?"

    1. I am sorry, Michael, that you have fallen victim to Diane's censorship, although I think you should wear your ban as a badge of honor. Obviously, your "crap detector" is much too sensitive to remain quiet among all the happy bleating at Basecamp.

      Thank you for your comments and all you do as a true patriot.

    2. I'm flattered, Jim. I'm not 100% clear on whether I'm officially banned, moderated, or what, but nothing I tried to post there today has appeared. And I think it's likely that my new status was decided a couple of days ago, over my views on the race for POTUS. To my mind, many who comment regularly on Ravitch's blog are centrists who would support Hillary Clinton over Sanders even if the GOP didn't have a candidate, let alone one that they can claim is Satan in a suit. In any event, I'm generally in Dutch with a lot of folks there (but what else is new)? :)

    3. Now it appears that I wasn't alone having problems posting. Things appear to have been fixed. I'm going to have to look at the flood of new comments and see how I want to weigh in there.

  5. I am a supporter of the work you and Ravitch have done especially in relation to exposing the biggest threat to public ed - charters. Her daily posts of every single charter scandal are important. As are yours re KIPP etc. There is only so much air out there for making our points. And so much time for people to read. I have many disagreements with Diane esp in relation to Randi and the unions. But she doesn't want to break those eggs. But I also disagree with some of your attacks, especially in NYSAPE which you hinted was being funded by - who? They are also incrementalists -- and when I posted their attack on Mulgrew you ignored that but instead posted a 2 year old criticism I had of them. Selective to try to make your point --
    I think the amount of time and energy going into this debate pushes this to the ledge. What is the point when there are so many horrible forces on the attack? She is an incrementalist - I don't think that works but I don't have to spend my time addressing that issue because I would rather go after Randi and crew and ed deformers. I would rather have the new Ravitch than the old one. You know our film went far and wide -- and I think it was the first one to strike back at ed deform -- and she is the one who made it happen. Why not let ESSA come apart?

  6. If too much time has been devoted to this issue, then I am wondering why you are helping to keep it alive by suggesting I let Diane and NPE go their merry way, all the while pretending to be against all the policies that their enthused endorsement of ESSA has enabled. Your preferred solution, it seems, is to "let ESSA come apart." I suppose like NCLB's coming apart, which took almost a decade and a half, and time enough to entirely unhinge the public school system and to waste money on 7,000 charter schools where children and teachers are regularly abused.

    Sorry, I don't have that kind of time. Besides, how can ESSA be "come apart" when the Diane and the corporate unions are hellbent to get it implemented. The Ravitch books and blogs are very effective in maintaining the pretense that she is leading a network of resistance, and it's even fun to read sometimes, but it keeps the impetus to organize and fight contained. It's all talk and no action. Of course, that is her primary purpose. She is not an incrementalist--she is a policy schizophrenic.

    As for cherry picking from your blog, I posted what Google gave me. Sorry their algorithms suck.

  7. I guess you think your work will have a major impact. I don't think that way about my work. I'm just a small cog - and there was a time when you and I were a tiny minority of people fighting ed deform -- I'm going back 15 years for me. ESSA is not the main enemy - the charter movement is and as long as Ravitch is on that case I am not wasting time attacking her. Or the corporate assault which she deals with it. ESSA will come apart but your war on Ravitch will do nothing to stop ESSA. I was part of the war on NCLB when our union supported it back in 2003 and 04. All we can do is point out what will happen and as it does people will sign on. Your attacks on her and her crew don't move the ball forward because building a force to take on the main issues is primary in this war. I was one of her critics before her change of mind. Her book helped moblize so many teachers and others. So she left out the union role but I can live with it. Is she perfect? Far from it. I'm not looking for perfection. Our enemies have nukes and we have pee shooters. Any pees Ravitch shoots at them is better than none. We should do our work and support things Ravitch and NPE do when they do it right - I have morphed from a lone warrior as I get older -- I bet I have less time left than you. I'll be long gone and the battle will still be on.

    1. my response here: http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2016/09/the-unbearable-costs-of-unity.html

  8. Norm Scott’s latest comments and my response embedded as #1, 2, 3, and 4. jh

    On Sep 21, 2016, at 8:10 PM, ed notes online wrote:

    ed notes online has left a new comment on your post "The Unbearable Costs of "Unity"":

    I wasn't paying much attention to this dispute until you went after NYSAPE - people I've been allied with - in what I felt was a dishonest and badgering manner. You posted my critical piece of them for not being more critical of the unions from 2 years ago but ignored their letter going after Mulgrew for attacking MORE on opt out - whose very existence contradicted your attack on them. That's when I started taking a closer look.

    1. I asked NYSAPE one question that was never answered. For you guys, asking questions must equal badgering. By the way, it was Jamaal who signed on to answer all questions, and then spent his time evading.

    Go ahead and continue your campaign. You are right. I have been too busy over the past decades in helping organize people to battle ed deform especially inside the UFT and AFT and NYSUT - the belly of that beast.

    2. As for organizing inside UFT, etc., you should know by now how effective that strategy is. You may achieve some kind of martyrdom, but you won’t change UFT as long as you guys are sending them your money to maintain their power base.

    You pick and choose the issues to attack Ravitch on. Yes we all pointed out the charter school stuff in ESSA which is why we opposed it and disagreed with Ravitch which we said at the time without engaging in all out war. You choose your tools, I'll choose mine. Just look at your response to me -- actually accusing me of in your words: "I am of the opinion that this is the same kind of thought disorder that has plagued you and other good union members for a long time. It clearly suggests that even though we know the leadership is corrupt and sadistic, we should celebrate when they open the torture chamber door and throw us a bone."

    Surely you joke -- no one has been on the union's case more than me in pointing out their faults and you know it - and I ahve never celebrated their bullshit. So that you would distort my history in such a blatant manner makes your attacks on all the others suspect --

    3. See # 2.

    And this
    "Notwithstanding your sad lecturing, Norm, to "do our work and support things Ravitch and NPE do when they are right,"
    So very sad. And I'm sorry you are feeling are feeling sorry for yourself today.--- I am not feeling sorry for myself - I am feeling sorry for you who I always considered an ally but who sadly cannot bear to be criticized in any manner without going on to personal attacks. And that is what has turned people off to your moralistic crusade -- for you are a true moralist - that only you can save us from ESSA.

    4. Who’s the angry man here? Who has his shorts in a wad about being criticized? If I am not your ally, that is not on me. My positions have not changed. It is some of the actions of your other allies—those who would like to have their cake and eat it, too— who have made the bifurcation obvious.

  9. Just posted to the Ravitch blog at her post on Sunday on which I (and some others) previously couldn't get things to appear:

    I wrote a few comments to this post when it first appeared that got lost; I subsequently decided not to get embroiled in this debate.

    But I'm stupid in so many ways. So I have to ask: Just how is "whatevers" misogynistic, particularly given that the verb attached is "waving," and the readership here is certainly not just comprised of women? The following paragraph makes reference to the followers of this blog as "eunuchs": I'm not all that well-read, but I didn't know that term refers to women. If I'm correct, then is the assumption that Horn switched his focus from women readers to men without any warning? Or could it be that what he imagined readers waving was something peculiar to males?

    No problem! Change the accusation from "misogynistic" to "chauvinistic" or "sexist" and you're good to go (though you may have to drop the references to that silly Trump comment about blood spurting back during the GOP debates)! Obviously, Horn is suggesting that women are too stupid to read!

    While we're on a roll reading minds, we certainly don't want to take Isabella Keegan's comment seriously: "I have been reading Horn’s “Schools Matter” blog for a long time and I have learned a lot from doing so. Rather than vilify this intelligent man for his feelings toward Diane Ravitch, I suggest that you actually his incisive arguments. You may not agree with everything he writes but you WILL get your eyes and minds opened to a different stance toward the topics that interest all of us."

    What is that? Actually reading someone's blog before deciding that his motives are jealousy, misogyny, ad nauseam? That's crazy talk!