The Wisdom and Wit of Diane Ravitch

2016 – Other Failures and Dumb Laws

  • Secretary Duncan issued a statement saying that testing was consuming too much instructional time and causing undue stress for students and educators. He then advised states to limit tests to no more than 2% of class time. This is about 21.6 hours, which merely confirmed the status quo.
  • In December 2015, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA to replace NCLB. This title is another unrealistic prediction. It retains yearly testing in grades 3-8 but lets the states determine how to punish low performing schools and teachers.
  • Now we have the story of the Newark, NJ school district the received $100 million from Mark Zuckerberg. The project was top-down and just seemed to make things worse. One parent had kids assigned to five different schools. In essence, money and power are not sufficient to improve schools. There is a letter here that she wrote to Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerberg.
  • Diane sees the only way for testing to go way is for parents to opt their kids out of taking the tests. The results are of no use as they come back months later. Teachers never see them so they don’t know what their students got wrong and all they do is rank students and tell most of them that they failed. She gives some details from New York State where 20% of students have opted out.
  • Next she goes after dumb bathroom laws. Transgender people have been using public bathrooms for years so what’s the fuss? The laws are also unenforceable unless you have genital checkers in each bathroom.
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