The Wisdom and Wit of Diane Ravitch

2015 – Dear Lamar, Some History, & Arne Duncan’s Failure

  • Here we find a letter to Lamar Alexander almost begging him to do what he can to limit yearly standardized testing and its impact. Lamar is the chair of the US Senate Committee for Education. She tells him he knew that the goals of NCLB were out of reach and that they would cause all schools to fail by 2014. By taking over control of national curriculum it has broken federal law. He has helped cause what many parents see as federally-mandated child abuse.
  • Her April 2, 2015 article provides some history starting with the Elementary and Secondary Schools Act (ESEA) of 1965. Its intent was to send federal funding to poor schools. While it has done this, the fact that schools are funded to a large extent on local property taxes means that in the US we spend more money on schools for rich kids. In 2001 NCLB was founded on the idea that the more you test children the better they will learn. Even I knew that expecting every school to score higher was a fantasy when I first saw the details.
  • These laws have been bipartisan. The folks on the right wanted public schools to fail so more funding could be sent to private and charter schools. The folks on the left wanted yearly testing so they could continue to show how poor and minority students underperform. Unless their failure is demonstrated repeatedly the assumption is that they would be overlooked. Ironically, federal NEAP testing every other year shows this very well.
  • In the final post from 2016 Diane gives no less than 14 reasons why Arne Duncan’s legacy is negative. They include the billions funneled to private and charter schools, requiring the use of tests to evaluate teachers, nationalization of curriculum via the Common Core Standards, the attack by states on collective bargaining, the decreased enrollment in teacher preparation programs, and his disdain for parents in general.
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