Diane Ravitch: Education has become search and destroy mission and teachers are often the targets

Diane Ravitch, perhaps America’s most influential scholar on education, has reversed her stance on issues such as standardized testing, school choice and the No Child Left Behind Act.

In her new book, influental education scholar Diane Ravitch criticizes policies she once supported. (Photo/Jack Miller)

In her new book, influental education scholar Diane Ravitch criticizes policies she once supported. (Photo/Jack Miller)

It’s the equivalent of Neal Boortz renouncing the FairTax or Ted Nugent embracing a tofu and berries diet.

That change of heart has sent Ravitch’s new book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System” flying out of bookstores in its first week on the shelves. Ravitch can’t keep up with e-mails pouring in from grateful teachers.

“The groundswell is because there are a lot of teachers who are very upset because nobody has been listening to them, nobody has been standing up to say, ‘Wait a minute. Is all this testing getting us anywhere?’

“The whole point of testing now is to find out who we should punish,” says Ravitch, speaking by telephone from her home in New York. “If kids get low test scores, then you should figure out why and what you can do to help. Now, we figure out who is to blame and how fast can we punish them.”

A former assistant secretary of education under the first President Bush and a noted education historian, Ravitch cheered the sweeping No Child Left Behind Act when it was introduced by the second President Bush. (Ravitch was also a consultant to Georgia on its new social studies standards.)

“As I was reading all the complex complaints about how schools can’t do this, it’s too hard, it costs too much, etc., I thought to myself, ‘what the law says is that the schools will teach all kids from third to eighth grade to read and do grade-appropriate math. How impossible is that?’” she said back in 2003.

Seven years later, she says the act asked for the impossible by making teachers accountable for student performance factors that are well beyond their control, including poverty and absence of parental support.

By overemphasizing test scores, No Child Left Behind sounded a death knell for arts education and anything else that wasn’t tested, she now believes. It focused too much on basic skills to the exclusion of thinking skills. It did not require that states develop well-rounded, meaningfu curricula and rather than raise standards, it lowered them.

But Ravitch does not want to discard the law entirely, believing that its provisions on using data to identify struggling students and provide them with help is worth retaining. “But get all the punishment out of the law,” she says.

However, most of the policies fostered by the second President Bush in the law and maintained by Barack Obama won’t improve schools, she says.

“The schools will surely be failures if students graduate knowing how to choose the right option from four bubbles on a test, but unprepared to lead fulfilling lives, to be responsible citizens, and to make good choices for themselves, their families, and our society.”

This from a scholar the New York Daily News commended in 2004 as the champion of “high-pressure, high-stakes standardized testing.”

Ravitch now says schools are better at churning out data than they are at producing educated students. And she cites the purported cheating on Georgia’s CRCT as a by-product of a testing culture gone mad.

“Take graduation rates. If I am a high school principal and you tell me that I’m fired if I don’t get a 100 percent graduation rate,  I will get 100 percent and you will get kids coming out of school who won’t be able to read and write,” she says. “But I will still hand them a diploma.”

A longtime critic of education fads, Ravitch says that at first she didn’t realize that No Child Left Behind was just another of those fads.

She also identifies two other fads — choice and charter schools — that will also fail to create lasting improvement in schools.

She admits being seduced by the rhetoric of choice.

“In part, I was swept along by my immersion in the upper reaches of the first Bush presidency, where choice and competition were taken for granted as successful ways to improve student achievement,” she says.

But the data have not supported that assumption. She cites Milwaukee’s 20-year voucher experiment, which she contends has helped neither the neediest students nor the public schools left behind.

She’s grown disenchanted with the charter-school movement as well.

While such schools often do enroll poor students, they tend to attract those students who are already the most motivated, since many of the schools require lotteries for admission. She notes that New York City Chancellor Joel Klein is among those smitten with charters. He wants to see 10 percent of the city’s students in charters.

“Who is talking about the other 90 percent?” she says. “When you look at the results for charters, you can always find one with great results and another with terrible results. On the whole they don’t have better results than regular public schools.”

As an historian, Ravitch cites experience to warn that the current push for charter schools is dangerous.

“What is stunningly successful in a small setting, nurtured by its founders and brought to life by a cadre of passionate teachers, seldom survives the transition when it’s turned into a large school reform.”

A few years ago, I heard Ravitch asked whether testing was good. Her answer was succinct: “Depends on the test.”

She reiterated that theme in her book and in our interview, saying that the problem lies with the misuse of tests, not the tests themselves. Tests provide too narrow a gauge for promoting students, assessing teachers or grading schools, all of which require a wider lens.

Tests were never designed to gauge such things, she argues. They were designed to see whether students could read or do math. Even then, tests have limits and must be tempered with human judgment.

Furthermore, tests have become a club to bludgeon teachers who need respect much more than they need punishment.

“Teacher quality is very important,” she says. “The answer is to professionalize teaching, not to ignore experience and all credentials and just fire people if they don’t produce high test results.”

She also frowns on the infatuation with Teach for America and other fast-track programs that put untrained college graduates in the classroom. That model — young people working 60 to 70 hours a week for a few years — is never going to create the depth and breadth of teaching force necessary, she says.

Merit pay, another education fad, also draws her disapproval. In her view, it has not improved student performance and has become another way to beat up on teachers.

In her book, she celebrates her own favorite teacher, Ruby Ratliff — gruff, demanding, indifferent to a student’s self-esteem and stingy with her A’s.

“We now have so much emphasis on test scores,” she says, “that it would probably drive somebody like that out of the profession today.”

118 comments Add your comment

MS Teacher

March 5th, 2010
1:57 pm

This needs to be on the front page of the AJC…suddenly someone says it!!!!


March 5th, 2010
1:59 pm

Finally an insider willing to tell the truth the outsiders have known all along.

Dunwoody Mom

March 5th, 2010
2:04 pm

Bravo!!! I ordered Ms. Ravitch’s book – cannot wait to read it. This article should be front and center on the AJC.


March 5th, 2010
2:06 pm

Glad she has had an epiphany. So much damage and false information has been publicized about these damaging fads that it defies the imagination.

If the general public knew the real facts behind charters, vouchers and NCLB they would be shocked.

Isaac Hernandez

March 5th, 2010
2:13 pm

Diane, Come see the play that our charter school is putting together, The Last Play On Earth:
“The school district’s budget cuts are ruining the arts programs… And a few students are taking a stand.” http://www.thelastplayonearth.com


March 5th, 2010
2:20 pm

While I applaud the fact that Ms. Rivitch has finally come to the same conclusion that teachers have been saying since the concept of NCLB, she doesn’t seem to have the faintest idea of the havoc these laws have and continue to make of schools and the teaching profession.]
Her favorite teacher would have LONG since been run out of schools by principals demanding test scores and parents demanding their sweeties be handled with warm and careful attention to their delicate self- esteem. Not to mention the obsession with A’s!

EX-Evil Old English Teacher

March 5th, 2010
2:35 pm

hijacked word #1 – Don’t mistake “common” for “standardized.” Common is always horizontal. Standardized is always hierarchical

hijacked word #2 Don’t confuse “accountability” with “micromanage.” True accountability is trust and transparency not rules and regulations.

hijacked word #3 – Don’t confuse “professional” with “market-driven.” To profess requires courageously following a calling. It’s not about a shirt and a tie and a binder full of notes.

hijacked word #4 – Don’t confuse “unity” with “uniformity.” We can all be in the same book without being on the same page.

hijacked word #5 – Don’t confuse “fundamentals” with “fundamentalism.” Phonics are necessary. Memorizing state capitals is superfluous.

hijacked word #6 – “Curriculum” originally meant “journey.” Now we’ve made it into a map forcing children into Kettle-Korn-esque tourists.

hijacked word #7 – Don’t confuse “collaboration” with “meetings.” True collaboration happens over a pint, not under florescent lights while holding binders.

hijacked word #8 – “assessment” and “test.” Assessments are authentic, tests are items designed to make children pray.

hijacked word #9 (actually a phrase): “for the children” is most often used to justify the exact thing that will harm a child’s mind.

hijacked word #10 – “educate” originally meant “to draw out.” Don’t confuse a process with an institution.

Political Spectator

March 5th, 2010
2:39 pm

This is no more than politics at its finest. Ms. Ravitch views are the cornerstone of No Child Left Behind. I mean literally, the Republicans used her conservative views to write NCLB. Ms. Ravitch is a conservative educational reformer. The Bush II Administration (and Ted Kennedy) depended on her as they wrote the NCLB legislation.

She is a smart lady. It has not taken her this long to figure out standardized testing is overuse and it stifles creativity. The difference is a Democrat is in office. Before you drink from Ms. Ravitch’s Kool Aid, understand that her views are subject to change when the politics change.

I now understand why some people are so cynical about politics. This lady does not have the best interest of teachers or children at heart. She has her political party at heart! So sad.

Ed Johnson

March 5th, 2010
2:42 pm

Dunwoody Mom, my words exactly! I, too, have ordered the book and can hardly wait to read it.

Still, now maybe there will come great inclination to look to and learn from those who have always known and have always told us. These wise and practical knowers include, among others…

Deborah Meier

Alfie Kohn

Linda McNeil

Stephanie Pace Marshall

Lee Jenkins

And arguably at the core of them all is…
W. Edwards Deming

EX-Evil Old English Teacher

March 5th, 2010
2:43 pm

This is blatantly stolen from jtspencer.blogspot.com

A kid raises his hand during the drill-and-kill test. “I’m supposed to find the main idea of a book that is about the desert, but the options are Cactus Heat, By the Ocean and Mountain Drought and Shrinking Ice Caps. All of these will work. Chile has a desert that’s nestled right up against the ocean. Mountains have deserts, too. And one of the largest deserts is freezing cold. Hasn’t the test-maker ever heard of Antarctica? See, a desert isn’t simply hot and flat. It’s about precipitation.”

On another test, he asks, “I’m supposed to say how many people will be at the party. If I’m not counting myself, this works out just fine. But if I’m not then it won’t work. The test question doesn’t ask, but I think it’s rude to not attend your own birthday party.” He’s right. The correct answer could be 12 or 13, which is B or C.

He raises his hand five times when the question reads, “Which is the best question for . . . ” and says, “They’re making the subjective into something objective. Why can’t they just let me write my own question and judge that instead?”

No one asks him to defend his answers. No one gives him a chance to clarify a question. Given his special education accommodations, I can re-read a question but I can’t explain it. The system is set up to efficiently measure critical thinking and few people seem to question whether higher order questioning belongs with a low-order format (multiple choice).

I don’t deny that he has a hard time reading. His mind meanders in often bizarre directions. Thus, he is able to answer a critical thinking question, but miss a simple comprehension question. He over-analyzes answers that he believes are vague. In math, he can explain a complex concept and then make a simple math error that ruins the entire problem.

When the test is over, he draws a scene from The Shining. I ask him about it later. “The Jack Nicholson guy is a politician and the students are saying red rum and the politicians look really scared. They’re living out of fear and the kids are scared too. But it’s not until the politicians look at themselves in the mirror that they realize that they are the ones killing our education.”

According to the Galileo, he doesn’t understand theme or symbolism or metaphor. He earned a sixty percent, which will drop his A in reading down to a C. I’m not suggesting that this story resembles most students. Yet, I have seen many students who fit this criteria. They are great thinkers and lousy test takers. (For the record, I’m a decent thinker and a great test taker, which is why I ended up in honors classes and some of my smartest friends were overlooked)

I used to believe that if I taught kids well, they could pass the test. I thought that I didn’t have to teach to the test in order for them to pass it. I believed critical thinkers were smarter than test-makers. I’m having second thoughts about all of those presuppositions.

But I’m still banking on this hope: that some of the kids who fail the test will find a way to succeed in life.


March 5th, 2010
2:48 pm

Political Spectator – You typed the thoughts right out of my head. I appreciate her admission that NCLB has in fact become the paddle with which to punish educators for not teaching in the right school, district, or county; however, methinks she doth protest too much and I smell something rotten indeed!

mystery poster

March 5th, 2010
3:19 pm

I have a hard time singing praises to someone who was instrumental in the creation of NCLB, despite her comments now. Kind of like Bristol Palin’s recent chastity vow.


March 5th, 2010
3:21 pm

Blah, blah, blah. Buy my book. It’s publish or perish in the collegiate world.

Now that you mentioned Ted Nugent, maybe we should get his ideas on how to fix our schools. I would be willing to wager that it would be a practical, common sense approach without all the high falutin’ eduspeak.

B. Killebrew

March 5th, 2010
3:36 pm

Diane Ravitch.

Awesome. Simply awesome.


March 5th, 2010
3:40 pm

The Nuuuuge! Yeah …


March 5th, 2010
3:48 pm

nice to see you came to the conclusion late but not never. Let’s put the resposibility where it belongs shared 60% on students and parents and 40% on teachers. Testing really has never measured anything if you have test anxiety, (that is never taken into account on any test) Let’s face it everyone doesn’t want to go to college but that is what the test measure. ELL students should be tested but their scores not counted for 5 to 7 years after their date of entry into the school system but what do we do? We give them 1 year then their tests are thrown into the mix with no consideration that they may have had an educatiion in their home country or not.


March 5th, 2010
4:27 pm

The new Social Studies standards are HORRIBLE! Absolutley horrible. This woman should be put in jail for even being associated with them.

john konop

March 5th, 2010
4:29 pm

GOD BLESS HER! The truth is told!

Sunny Daze

March 5th, 2010
4:29 pm

I’m not sure how sound the info is Ms. Ravitch but your flipflop is a great way to sell a book.


March 5th, 2010
4:36 pm

I do not believe half of what I read in this article. However, why is everyone worried about every student being an “A” student. Those grades are reserved for teacher’s kids, community organizer’s kids, the affluent’s kids, and families that go to college traditionally. We need tomatoe harvesters too, we need grunts for our military, and we need ditch diggers. If you can not teach the kid to read, write, or do math, then maybe he can be a laborer. I do not understand why everyone should be a college professor or equivalent. They did not make this country alone and lately they sure have done a lot to destroy it. Just saying….


March 5th, 2010
4:37 pm

Maureen –

Thanks for posting this. While there may be some political issues behind the scenes here, Ravitch’s reversal may prove to be a very large rallying point to help straighten out some of this NCLB mess.

Have you read much about what is going on with Marc Dean Millot regarding his writing about how he believes the fix is in on the U.S. Department of Education’s competitive grants, in particular Race to the Top (RTTT) and Investing in Innovation?

“We do know that the Secretary benefited from a strong relationship with the new philanthropy in Chicago. We know that the Secretary is high on charter management organizations and the new teacher development programs that benefited from the new philanthropy. We know that RTTT czar Joanne Weiss was senior staff member at New Schools. We know that Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement Jim Shelton was a senior program education officer at the Gates Foundation and NewSchools. We know that both managed investments in the organizations’ Duncan favors.

Anyone who remembers the Reading First fiasco is familiar with the pattern. A Secretary inclined towards a particular education reform solution, subordinate political appointees with a personal investment in the same solution, connected to organizations practicing that solution – organizations with incredibly thin files of reliable evidence consistently demonstrating an educationally significant contribution to improvements in student performance in the schools where they work today. The last time education reformers saw this pattern, the organizations with the best evidence of efficacy were pushed aside in favor of those who met a tortured definition designed to produce the desired outcome. Given history, concerns that a repeat is in process are neither unreasonable, nor unwarranted.”


March 5th, 2010
4:38 pm

filtered again…..

B. Killebrew

March 5th, 2010
4:46 pm

Maureen, how do you feel about this?


March 5th, 2010
4:56 pm

This is exactly what has happened in our public high schools. An article just came out today about Georgia’s rising grad rate. Guess why that rate is up? Ms. Ravitch just explained it:
“Take graduation rates. If I am a high school principal and you tell me that I’m fired if I don’t get a 100 percent graduation rate, I will get 100 percent and you will get kids coming out of school who won’t be able to read and write,” she says. “But I will still hand them a diploma.”

I teach at a school with this very scenerio. Lots of kids graduate only to spend years in remedial education after high school. We are wasting money keeping these kids in high school if they complete it and spend several years at taxpayers expense in adult education programs or remedial programs at college.

Ed Johnson

March 5th, 2010
5:01 pm

Maureen, the filter. Am I trapped?

Dr. John Trotter

March 5th, 2010
5:05 pm

From the inception of MACE (1995), we have been clamoring for treating teachers like professionals — trusting their professional knowledge, judgment, wisdom, and discretion. We have been saying, “For Kids’ Sake, Let Teachers Teach!” (This was the title of my initial article in the The Teacher’s Advocate! magazine of 1995. We have been alone among the educational organizations in Georgia calling for a cessation of the standardized testing mania. We have called standardized tests the false gods of public education. It’s good to see others saying the same thing now. Ravitch’s previous book on school reform failure in America is also a dandy. (c) MACE, March 5, 2010.

Maureen Downey

March 5th, 2010
5:12 pm

Ed, You are out. I was at the Global Village School in Decatur and just got back. You and 15 others were trapped.


March 5th, 2010
5:23 pm

Finally, we have someone with power and respect who learns and says what’s been so obvious to teachers for a long time! Hopefully, the pendulum may start to swing back into the direction of real education where students learn to respect authority and LEARN not only that they will succeed if they put in hard work but that they will also own up to their failures. And they will learn much more about how to succeed in life simply be being expected to reach high expectations, both behavioral and academic, while simply being accountable for themselves. And maybe, once again, self esteem will be earned when students have a true sense of accomplishment and true sense of ownership of their destiny, whether it’s negative or positive. Maybe we’ll once again start holding the students accountable for their learning, which promotes good teachers to stay and bad teachers to leave as opposed to the opposite model that we have now. And maybe once again, we will have a country where most people respect one another. Maybe I’m being too positive, but I surely hope not.

Math Teacher

March 5th, 2010
5:35 pm

This is a fantastic article. I teach high school math, and I feel like I’m forced to test my students to death because I am required to make all students pass, make all students learn, and produce results no matter what the cost is. I feel like I am making my students hate math rather than enjoy it, but I have to produce standardized test results and ensure that my students pass. Otherwise, I have to complete a mountain of pointless RTI, SST, IEP, and AYP forms for each of the students who do not pass. I cannot share my love and enjoyment for math with my students because I have to teach them how to pass the overwhelming amount of tests that I am required to give!!!


March 5th, 2010
5:38 pm

I am not sure about Ms. Ravitch’s motivations, but I agree with what she has said. I do not know why I even give grades anymore. I have sat in meetings where a child has failed multiple classes, but passes the CRCT, so we send the poor kid on to the next grade without the skills needed to pass and learn at the next level. We are teaching students how to memorize, not think. The purpose of the public eduction system is to educate the masses so that they will be able to work, make money, and figure out who they should vote for. We are failing our students because we teach to the bottom, praise the “gifted,” and forget about the 80% in the middle. Let teachers teach and ask them what is best for the students that they spend 40 hours a week with. I wonder the last time any of the “educational experts” were actually in a public school building. The experts are still in the classroom. So, Ms. Ravitich, the next time you work on sweeping educational reform, please come visit my classroom for a day first. Ok…done with my rant.


March 5th, 2010
5:49 pm

“She also identifies two other fads — choice and charter schools — that will also fail to create lasting improvement in schools”

To be honest; I don’t care if they create an improvement in my local school; as long as they provide a way out of the local school and/or provide some amount of offset to the cash I pay if I choose to send my kids to a local private school instead of my local failing public school. Once I’ve gotten my kids out of the local failing public school I cease to care what happens to it. If 80% of the parents don’t care enough about their child’s education and continue to send them to the failing local public school then there isn’t much I can do about that – that school is *going* to fail.

If the the crux of the problem with south Fulton, south Dekalb, and APS is that a vast majority of parents don’t really care and are not engaged with the kid’s education and a very large majority of the kids don’t care about their own education then there simply is no way to “fix” those schools. If we say that that is the problem with the majority of what are labeled as “failing” schools then they cannot ever be “fixed.” The only reasonable solution then is to at least offer “choice” and/or “vouchers” to the minority of kids & families that *do* care to let them go to a school with a more conducive learning environment where they will not only just pass but get a good solid education.


March 5th, 2010
6:04 pm

I blame the politicians for this standardized testing mess a heck of a lot more than I blame students, parents or teachers. The overwhelming majority of politicians are insurance executives and lawyers. Letting them dictate how the education system should run makes as much sense as letting teachers run the insurance industry and the justice system. Face it: politicians don’t know what they’re doing when they meddle in education! Why do we allow it?

Teachers are education professionals. At what point do we allow them to do the job they’re trained to do? There’s a myth loose in the land that teachers don’t want to teach and don’t care if their students succeed, that they just want to file their nails, collect their pensions and traumatize small children. I keep wondering when teachers are going to stand up for themselves and command the same respect for their expertise and training that other professionals command for theirs.

Nothing’s going to change until we get the politicians out of the way and let people who are trained to run schools and educate students do their jobs — and provide them with the resources they need to do so successfully.


March 5th, 2010
6:10 pm

Anyone know how kids sent to alternative school are treated if they drop out while at alternative school? Are they counted against the “home school”? How about those who “drop out” but go directly to night school? Are they counted as persisters?

My system’s high school is on the list of super-achievers. I know they work very hard and are led by a charismatic principal, but I see what we send them. NO WAY these kids are legitimately passing and graduating the traditional way–they can’t read when they leave our school, and after 5th grade they don’t get reading instruction! I know they send a lot off to alternative school or to night school, so I am interested in how these kids are treated. Tony? Or any other principal know how it works?

OLd Physics Teacher

March 5th, 2010
6:43 pm

Oh great. She’s just like McNamara in his autobiography when he admits he knew sending in more soldiers in Vietnam would only get more men killed and not further our national goals.

One of the principle players in NCLB. She helps screw up education like no one has ever done before and now discovers she had no clue what she was doing. Sorry, apology NOT accepted. She’s a politician. How do we know she’s telling the truth now? Do you know how to tell a politician is lying? ANS: their lips are moving. I don’t trust her to have educators’ best interest at heart unless she goes in and helps fix her mistakes, instead of writing a mea culpa.


March 5th, 2010
6:53 pm

Ravitch bears a huge responsibility for letting the monster out of the cage under Bush. While it’s good to hear her newfound insight, it’s a little too late. We now have a madman in charge of the “federal department of we want to takeover your schools” who has taken the mantras that started with Reagan and have intinsified through the years. The politically motivated, so-called report called “A Nation at Risk” received her blessing and the harm caused by the outright lies within that report continue to be used against schools today. And the media have gone right along with it.

catlady – How students are reported under alternative schools depends upon how the school is set up. Some systems set up the alternative school so that students are counted by the sending high school. Some set up the alternative school as a stand alone school which would mean the students are counted at the alternative school. The alternative school, if it is a stand alone, would have its own report card at GAOSA.ORG. If the school you are concerned about does not have its own report card, then the students should be counted under the sending high school.

Dr. John Trotter

March 5th, 2010
7:07 pm

Someone with stature on the national political scene finally stated what has been obvious for decades to classroom educators…The Educational Emperor is naked! Or, “You know, we ought to do something about this 4,000 pound purple elephant (or donkey) in the parlor.” About time.


March 5th, 2010
7:28 pm

I feel sorry for teachers.They have thankless jobs nowdays.My momma every year told my teachers to call her if I was a problem.I respected my teachers.I knew i was in big trouble if i screwed up.Parents nowdays blame the teacher if their brat disrupts the class.


March 5th, 2010
7:42 pm

Tony–here’s a laugh for you. In looking at the OFFICE OF EDUCATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY’s website I found TWO (2) misspelled words on 5 pages! You’d think they could spell “mountain” and “performance” correctly, wouldn’t you?!?!? Lack of accountability! FAIL!

B. Killebrew

March 5th, 2010
7:45 pm

Ed Johnson…

Thanks for the links.

And don’t forget Linda Darling-Hammond.


March 5th, 2010
7:50 pm

Moutain Education Center (numerous times)
Academic Perfornce

Looks like our Gaosa needs to get some of their well-paid web people to do a little spell-checking. Looks b-a-d!


March 5th, 2010
8:19 pm

I’m sorry…but which golden days are we supposedly getting back to here?

How has standardized testing made education so much worse in Georgia? There are some big ole rose-colored glasses on this blog.

Maybe some teachers just want to get back to the days when there wasn’t a yearly accounting of them being not quite as good as they tell themselves they are.

Ed Johnson

March 5th, 2010
8:24 pm

Off topic:
APS is looking to hire a “Moderate Intellectually Disabled Teacher.”

On topic:
EX-Evil Old English Teacher, let’s get this right. You’ve a charge who asked: “Why can’t they just let me write my own question and judge that instead?” Wow! What an amazing understanding and clue for a very different kind of test. “Out of the mouths of babes…”


March 5th, 2010
8:27 pm

I feel sorry for the students. They’re the ones who suffer the ideas of adults who should know better.

It’s like phonics instruction – only on a larger scale. Phonics was done away with during my mother’s education (she’s 91) and she can read just fine, but she can’t spell worth a hoot, brought back during my time (I’m 60) and I can read and spell any word, and then taken away for my daughter (she’s 26) and she can’t spell worth a flip.

Education is so trendy and faddish. It goes in circles. The only problem is if you are caught in the downward spiral, you have missed out on a lifetime opportunity. My mom and my daughter will never be good spellers, and many of our NCLB kids won’t be critical thinkers.

Hank Williams Jr.

March 5th, 2010
8:57 pm



March 5th, 2010
9:05 pm

..and what about the kids whose lives we are shortchanging every single day.


March 5th, 2010
9:08 pm

Educators should get a free copy of her book. She is profitting off of what we have known and have been trying to tell everyone else for years. Now we are supposed to jump up and applaud her for her new stance. If she was such an expert, she would have already known about the harmful effects of such fads.


March 5th, 2010
9:19 pm

Quote- “Tests provide too narrow a gauge for promoting students, assessing teachers or grading schools, all of which require a wider lens. Tests were never designed to gauge such things, she argues. They were designed to see whether students could read or do math. Even then, tests have limits and must be tempered with human judgment.”

Exactly! This point is so hard for some to understand! I reason that legislators or those not in education could easily ignore this fact, if the goal is to simply reduce the educational budget by finding ways to decease teacher salaries. The Georgia legislators pretend degrees are worthless indicators and standardized test can measure everything!


March 5th, 2010
9:42 pm

@Dekalbite, you are right the regarding the teaching of phonics. I remember being told several times throughout the years the “most current research” on phonics, which ranged from unnecessary to ineffective to essential components of the language arts curriculum. I have also found many people who were not taught phonics and have suffered the consequences throughout their adult life. I still supplement the curriculum with phonics because I knew better. In my opinion, the omission of phonics is educational neglect. Which is the best oxymoron- educational achievement and Georgia’s Race to the Top or a leap of faith with Georgia’s’ legislators?


March 5th, 2010
9:46 pm

Corrections- “being a essential component” and “supplemented the curriculum”

B. Killebrew

March 5th, 2010
9:50 pm

I just got the book about 1.5 hours ago. Reading it now…