01 September 2012

Apple for the Teacher

A worthwhile addiction is BookTV, C-SPAN2 for the weekend. There was a repeat of an interview with Diane Ravitch, from 2000, for her then current book, "Left Back: A Century of Battles over School Reform" (that's the subtitle today). She went to Wellesley, and sounded sane, so off to Amazon to see what she's been up to since.

"The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education" is the latest. Reading through the comments, this one is of note (from one Andrew Wolfe):
Teacher-bashing, so in vogue among the "reformers" dominating the national discussion, is rejected by Dr. Ravitch. How could the unions be responsible for so much failure when, she asks, traditionally, the highest scores in the nation are posted by strong union states such as Massachusetts (best results in the nation) and the lowest scores in the south, where unions are weak or non-existent?

The whole teacher bashing, especially union bashing, to me has from inception been strictly about Right Wingnuts looking to end the teaching of evolution, and any other reality based knowledge. Since the curricula are created by Management, and the texts largely manipulated by Texas (Google for it; because texts are built to the demands of large customers, and Texas has such clout, Texas frames the content of many texts), blaming the teachers is just propaganda.

The thrust of her discussion during the interview was that education, if we mean it that we're a Democracy, must be egalitarian and public. Massachusetts established public education. They seem to get it right.

One point she makes, but I remain confused about, is whether consolidated schools are better than smaller ones. She is against early "tracking" of students. On the other hand, I went to public schools about eighty miles west of Wellesley, in Springfield. At that time, there were four public high schools: Trade, Commerce, Technical, and Classical; they catered to the sort of students you might expect. I went to Classical, big surprise. The thing is, I don't recall being tested in, either voluntarily or mandatorily. The social sifting was sufficient. It was known as Palestine High, since all the Jewish kids went there; and not just Springfield kids, but some from neighboring towns. I don't recall the details, but there was some agreement that allowed it. Kind of like a public prep school.

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