I've got a copy of Diane Ravitch's latest tome on my bedside table -- just haven't found the time or fortitude to plow through the Houston native and former secretary of education's "intellectual crisis" and subsequent "U-turn," as The New York Times put it a few days ago. Because, once upon a time, Ravitch was all for standardized testing and No Child Left Behind and crushing the spirit and soul out of children in public schools who are, at present, being tested to death. But no more, she writes: "Accountability, as written into federal law, was not raising standards but dumbing down the schools. The effort to upend American public education and replace it with something that was market-based began to feel too radical for me."
Carla Ranger, the most outspoken DISD trustee, agrees: On her Web site, which had become in recent weeks a press-release bulletin board, Ranger has a post titled "Destroying public education and leaving democracy behind," in which she writes that she absolutely shares Ravitch's concerns. She writes, in part:
Today, use of the word "reform" has become the easiest way to hide agendas that have little to do with improving public education and everything to do with undermining public education on the road to increasing privatization by placing public money under private control. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has become a red flag because it covers up what is sometimes an ideologically driven effort to weaken public support of public education. ...Speaking of public education, Ranger just posted a piece concerning last week's board vote that makes it difficult to pull items from the consent agenda so they can be discussed at length during meetings. Writes Ranger, "I believe in public discussion of important public matters. The vote last Thursday indicates there are Trustees who still want to make that more difficult."
I support public school education for all citizens who take advantage of it -- the good, the bad and the ugly. I support public democracy. I support public control of public education. I support human freedom that recognizes no limit on human possibility.