Monday, November 28, 2011

Plumbing Diane Ravitch's Heart

Check out Kevin Carey’s article today in The New Republic, “The Dissenter,” which analyzes Diane Ravitch’s switch from fierce advocate for standards-based education reform to the nation’s stalwart defender of the status quo. Carey attributes at least part of Ravitch’s change of heart to a long-running feud with former NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klein. Klein’s predecessor, Harold Levy, had been looking for an educator to lead a principals’ training program. Ravitch recommended her long-time partner Mary Butz, and Butz got the job. When Klein came to NYC he revamped the program and dumped Butz.

Carey’s information is based on a series of Freedom of Information Act requests for emails between Klein and Ravitch.

Regarding Ravitch’s body of work, Carey interviewed a historian, James Fraser, a colleague of Ravitch’s at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. Carey asked him if he could detect any consistent intellectual point of view in her work. Fraser replied,
“No. And that’s an interesting ‘No.’ I can’t really think of anything at this state, beyond her ability to use historical narrative in illustrating various points—sometimes hugely contradictory points!—about current debates in education.”

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