Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Diane Ravitch Calls It Like It Is

One of the remarkable things about Diane Ravitch is that she has been a staunch advocate from both sides of the great abyss. The fact that she now supports genuine, authentic and principled education gives hope to many of us in the face of the tsunami of testing, "accountability" and political meddling that is at the heart of the dismantling of the system of  education as we know it. Her recent blogpost about the heavy hand of the Federal Government regarding testing in Vermont is both comprehensive and eloquent and serves as a dire warning to anyone interested in the salvation of  our education system as a place where children learn, grow, flourish and blossom as individuals within a caring society.

The impending, inevitable  public outcry of perceived declining standards illustrated in the soon-to-be-released SBAC scores will only serve to highlight the wisdom of Ravitch's words as teachers and the education system are subjected to yet more abuse from an ill-informed public that seizes upon the simple but misguided notion that increasing levels of evaluation will improve the quality of education.

One of my colleagues at SMC, Beth Peterson, quoted Gary Oldfield when responding to Ravitch's blogpost with this brilliant observation " Setting absurd standards and then announcing massive failures has undermined public support for public schools . . . We are dismantling public school systems whose problems are basically the problems of racial and economic polarization, segregation and economic disinvestment.” (Educational Researcher, August/September 2014, p.286).

The SBACS, the tests in English language arts and math, adopted by many States as the  compulsory evaluation tool for the new Common Core State Standards will be an  unmitigated disaster. They are difficult to administer, difficult to take by students, and are scored on the other side of the country in Washington State. Costing around $27 per student they will undoubtedly make someone financially rich and the rest of us who have to suffer them culturally poor.  

Perhaps parents should be asked to take the SBACS to see what their children are being subjected to.

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