I may be a librarian, but I am also an educator and care about the future of our public school system. Educator friends have been posting links to tweets and writings by Diane Ravitch through social networks, and I was intrigued by her conclusions. When I heard she was coming to KU, I made sure I could make it.
I took stream of consciousness notes tonight, and hope I captured the words she was saying the best I could. If anyone discovers errors — please let me know! Â The lecture was well worth my time, and I look forward to reading her latest book. I’ve pre-ordered the new edition that’s to be released on November 1 on Kindle. Feel free to leave comments.Â
KU Humanities Lecture
Diane Ravitch [website] [blog] [twitter] [latest book] [American Schools in Crisis article]
Crisis in American education. We haven’t read about this crisis. Not low test scores or bad teachers. It’s caused by bad federal education policies. It’s caused by mean-spirited attacks on teachers and principals. Budget-slashing. Entrepreneurs who don’t see a vital public resource but a business opportunity. By billionaires.
Sees herself as an improver, not a reformer.
Book out last year. Said she was wrong about testing in schools.
Keeping thinking. Listening to points of view. Open to new ideas. What education is about: to listen, to learn, and to admit error.
We construct narratives to explain events. National school reform is based on bad news industry.
But they’re wrong. Their story is threatening public education.
Never before, has there been such an effort to dismantle public schools. Corporate reform: schools be like business. Test scores determine profit and losses.
Change from community institution that is democratized to private institution funded with public dollars.
As free market reform in schools went from theory into practice, Dr. Ravitch saw that this wasn’t working.
Testing, accountability, and choice are the standards of this movement.
Alliance of foundations (Gates, Walton, etc.), think tanks, non-profits, and hedge funds and others are backing this reform movement.
They say schools spend too much, teachers don’t need union protection, failing all types of students. All of these reformers went to elite private schools.
In private schools, teachers aren’t held accountable to test scores.
Education schools would be judged by graduates’ students’ test scores.
They don’t know much about cognitive development, but can cite performance statistics (test scores).
All teachers need to be great teachers is high test scores (not master’s degrees, small class size, experience).
The reformers never mention how the firings will affect workplace morale. And where will they get teachers?
Free market works well for goods and services, but not for public services. It produces winners and losers. It does not provide for equality. It has cycles and downturns. Free market is not kind to losers.
Education is supposed to treat every child as a unique and special individual, not as a profit, not as a race, not as a competition, not as a finish line. It is to prepare us to do the best we can.
Corporate ed reform come from non-education backgrounds. Believe in creative disruption. Risk. Tearing things up and start over. Disruption and chaos aren’t good for children. They need disruption.
They need caring adults, there every day, as a steady source. Not teachers as consumer good, whose availability is determined by market forces.
NCLB marked a sea change in ed policy. NCLB has been the worst federal education policy passed by Congress. Failed fed policy that is ruining education.
NCLB has caused PE, arts, civics, history, foreign language cut back because only reading and math count. Schools have cut librarians, libraries, nurses, counselors, to devote to test scores.
Education decisions made in DC for 10 percent of ed funding, not in state capitals and local school districts where 90 percent of funding is.
By 2014, virtually 100 percent of schools will be deemed failing.
Waivers offered to escape NCLB timetable. States have to accept Sec. Duncan’s terms.
Texas Miracle didn’t happen. Congress bought it — passed NCLB.
NCLB = “measure and punish”
Nothing to support educators or inspire them. Instead: Intimidation. Punishment. Fear.
It should be repealed: equity and equitable resources and provides sound education for all.
Congress shouldn’t tell schools how to reform, because Congress isn’t competent to reform them!!
They don’t know what they’re doing.
Congress should support schools who enroll high rates of low-performing students, not punish them.
These reformers don’t want their own children in public schools without arts or play time.
Bill Gates this spring told governors schools needed larger class sizes — but his own children wouldn’t have to adhere to that.
How will teachers get better if they have less education, less experience, and larger classes?
Race to the Top: Transformation means all staff will be fired or school will be turned into charter schools.
Renaissance 2010 in Chicago that Arne Duncan was behind: didn’t make a difference.
Game of musical chairs.
Public schools are beginning to close because their scores are too low. Communities destabilized. New schools aren’t any better. Closing schools doesn’t narrow achievement gap, help a student learn to read English.
Schools aren’t chain stores that can be opened or closed at will.
RTTT holds teachers accountable and forces them to teach even more for tests.
Psychometrics –> tests should be only used to measure what they’re written to measure. Test students, not teachers.
Finland school system — best in the world.
Variation in schools is the smallest in the world. Equality of educational opportunity in Finland. Students only take standardized tests to go into higher ed.
Finnish teachers required to have 5 years prep, incl master’s degree.
Only 1 in 10 accepted to teach. Learn how to help ALL children learn how to learn. Trusted professionals.
They trust their teachers.
3% of children live in poverty in Finland. 25% in US live in poverty.
The more we test, the more we can’t trust the test.
Teach test-taking tricks, cheating. Atlanta schools.
NY dept of ed made the test easier and easier — NYC Miracle collapsed — test scores didn’t go up.
Tests should be used for information, diagnosis, not firing, bonuses.
Focus on wrong goals by focus on testing.
Testing is social instrument, not barometer. Bad tests — test questions worded badly.
What does this practice mean for our nation? Multiple choice tests. Squeezing out creativity, originality, critical thinking of our kids?
Multiple choice –> factory workers for industrial age. Designed for early 20th century.
Corporate education reform. Schools were great 50 years ago and have fallen into decline. The reformers are wrong bc they don’t know their history. 3 big changes.
1) End of legally mandated racial segregation. Lack of economic opportunity
2) Stopped excluding students from education because of disability.
3) Huge wave of immigration into schools. Many of these students can’t read or speak English.
Our schools have to deal with the challenges they have today, not ignore them. NASP (???) is the only national test. Achievement has not declined based on this test. Achievement increased for black families.
Black-white achievement gap significantly reduced in the 70s & 80s.
Why aren’t we ranked #1 internationally in international test scores? 1st international test in 1960s, we ranked 12 out of 12. Never ranked in the top.
How is it a nation that ranked so low in international tests created great achievements (Obama quote).
As the level of poverty rises in schools, test scores decrease. If we could lower poverty, we could raise test scores.
Corporate reformers don’t want to talk about poverty. Schools alone can solve social inequality.
Waiting for Superman film promoted by these corporate reformers.
Solutions: Privately managed charter schools, merit pay, deregulation, competition, firing low scoring teachers, no unions. We see this all over the place. The narrative is all over the place.
Schools must be improved. Wrong problems id’d and wrong solutions suggested.
Family Poverty level is what drags down educational performance, not teachers.
Poverty effects: Health care access. Housing. Nutrition. Children’s motivation. Access to books. And others.
Charters can be good and bad. Not answers to problems of American education. 5K charters enrolling 1.5 million students. No different in performance because there are excellent pub schools and bad pub schools. Some get high test scores through enrollment practices.
Maragaret Raymond looked at 2500 charter schools — 17% of charters were better than public schools. 37% were worse than pub schools. 46% no difference.
Since 2003, charter students and public school students test scores — no difference.
Vouchers. Going into legislature. These programs don’t work. Milwaukee had publicly funded vouchers for 21 years. Black students in Milwaukee are among lowest in black students in the country. State scores — no difference bw low-income students in public schools, charter schools, or voucher schools.
Voucher advocates no longer claiming achievement increases. It’ll save money.
Teacher’s unions holding us back? Highest performing states are Mass, Connecticut, and NJ — union states for teachers. Lowest performing states — non-union states.
Corporate reformers have obsession over teacher evaluation — esp from Gates foundation.
Research doesn’t support teacher evaluation. Current measures are inaccurate and unstable. Depends on who is in a teacher’s class. One year class will be great, next year not great class. Huge margin of error in teacher evaluations.
By using student test scores to judge teachers, balance of power shifts to students. Undermines authority of adults in the classroom.
Litigation. Against ineffective teachers. From parents.
Reformers say they want quality teachers but quality teachers are leaving the profession because they are demoralized.
Teach for America: 5 weeks of training to be in front of the toughest classrooms in thof nation — and these students leave a few years later.
Merit pay has been tried since the 1920s but it’s never worked! Vanderbilt Univ study. 15,000 bonus offered for higher test scores. No difference between those eligible and those not eligible.
Edwards Demming. Performance pay. When you send colleagues into competition: destroys teamwork and collaboration. Schools are communities, not competitions. Bad for organization and doesn’t have results.
NYC merit pay: wasted $56 million on merit pay.
National Research council: testing doesn’t raise achievement. It incentivizes bad behaviors: grade inflation, cheating, and gaming the system. When you give performance bonuses, people lose motivation.
These three conclude: People work harder and better when motivated by idealism and sense of purpose and autonomy.
Yes we do have a crisis in education. Will we allow this reform movement to decimate public schools?
Will we allow them to decimate public good and change into private free market?
What is good education?
Higher test scores aren’t goal!
Goal is to develop well educated citizens to develop our democracy. Full and balanced education: arts (music), history, civics, sciences, PE every day.
When teachers are treated with respect..
Children aren’t widgets but unique human beings.
We need to pay more attention to the recruitment, development, and support of teachers!
50% leakage of teachers — leave after 5 years.
Teaching should be commitment to career.
Better instruction. Assessments of what students have learned.
Achievement gap happens way before 1st day of school. Stems from prenatal care. Early childhood education.
School and society aren’t different worlds. Can’t improve schools without removing obstacles — POVERTY….
Incomprehensible that richest nation in world has the poverty levels that it has.
[And she ended right after this. I think she said one last thing — but I missed it!]