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Diane Ravitch Addresses Sacramento, and Undresses Education Reform

January 27, 2012

While my main purpose in traveling to Sacramento last week was for an event I helped plan and present, the added benefit was seeing some excellent speeches at the Sacramento Convention Center that evening.  The main draw was Diane Ravitch, who delivered a vigorous call to action for the audience of a few thousand like-minded educators and allies.  I was positioned to capture some of the event on video, though without a tripod or a proper video camera, I couldn’t capture the whole speech.  I’ll be posting some clips of Ravitch, and also some clips from the speech by Linda Darling-Hammond, which was similarly well-received by the teachers I spoke to after the event.  I have already posted a short clip of my friend and ACT co-founder Anthony Cody speaking at the same event, and he shared the text of his remarks on his blog (with the video embedded at the bottom).

I hope you’ll share your reactions and thoughts to these video clips here on InterACT – agree or disagree.

In this first clip, Ravitch considers the unfortunate idea behind NCLB – that eventually, every American public school would be labeled a failure.  She also considers “parent trigger” laws, and suggests that public schools are a public institution, not established and maintained for the sole benefit of the current students, but for the good of society overall and all of the students yet to come.  Why then, should a majority of current (and soon-to-be) parent community have the right to make a decision about potentially drastic changes to an institution that belongs to all of us?

In the second clip, Ravitch looks at the deprofessionalization of education – the sadly popular notion that TFA interns or other alternative-route teachers are good enough to be the classroom teacher of record with so little training, and that principals and superintendents need not have a background in teaching in order to lead effectively in a teaching organization.  When teachers protest these ideas, especially through their unions, the unions themselves are subject to attack for obstructing progress – nevermind that the leading states and nations all have strong teachers unions, while the lowest performing states, generally, are non-union or have weaker unions.

Additional clips from Ravitch’s speech are embedded in this follow-up blog post.

UPDATE: Audio only versions of the speech: Part One; Part Two.

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