March 17, 2010

TNR's symposium on Diane Ravitch's book on schools

By: Sonny Bunch

It’s a pretty interesting back and forth. Kevin Carey stops being polite and starts getting real:

The problem is that your distaste for faddism and naiveté can be overwhelming–you see these sins in everyone you happen to disagree with about anything.

For example (there are many), the book concludes: “Reformers imagine that is easy to create a successful school. It is not.” This is complete nonsense. Nobody thinks it’s easy to create a successful school, particularly when at-risk children are involved. I have heard dozens of reformers go on about this subject over the years. They’re obsessed with the difficulty of building good schools, to the point, frankly, of being pretty hard to shut up about it.

Throughout the book, you accuse those you newly disagree with of believing in, variously, silver bullets, magic feathers, panaceas, quick fixes, and miracle cures. Can we please retire the insulting declaration that “there are no silver bullets”? You may have believed in them once, but that doesn’t mean everyone else made the same mistake.

Burn! That is some #realkeeping. To be fair, I believed in them once as well (and still do, to a certain extent — there is certainly a place for standardized testing and teacher accountability in education reform, perhaps even a preeminent one). Anyway, you should check out the whole symposium. It’s interesting.