Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ravitch's "Reign of Error"

A colleague/friend of mine recommended Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error

Education reform is not high on my reading list these days, but I appreciate book recommendations and Ravitch has been a big stick over the last two decades-- so she's certainly worth a look.

I read the first chapter. So far, it's a dog's breakfast of useful stuff, exaggeration, conflation, strawmen, and blech.

The most notable, quick problems: she...

a.) pounds liberals and progressives (broad categories!) without defining which subsets she's attacking: 
b.) says that private and charter schools are "deregulated, unsupervised, and accountable"; 
c.) implies that choice necessarily (or likely) undermines democracy; 
d.) ignores that the status quo is deeply unequal; 
e.) conflates NCLB with charters/vouchers; 
f.) is apparently allergic to for-profit involvement; 
g.) seems to think that our probs in education are largely inner city; 
h.) ignores family structure/stability in her correct reference to important variables other than schools; 
i.) conflates charter and voucher in terms of "privatization"; 
j.) acts as if we've had a ton of market reform; and 
j.) tells us that we're not in crisis, but if we pursue even a bit more market reform (as if we've had a ton already!), then it's akin to a train going off of a cliff.

All that said, the book is probably worth sifting through the chaff to get some wheat. But I'm not sure whether I'll get to it soon...


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