VideoGate on NRO

I wrote-up the whole VideoGate saga for National Review Online, which you can read here.

I’ve now said just about everything I have to say on this issue.  Unless something changes I think we’ve established a few things about Diane Ravitch if you didn’t know them already.  First, it appears she fabricated (or imagined) serious allegations of misbehavior against a public official.  That combined with her inaccurate and selective treatment of empirical evidence should make us doubt her credibility as a scholar.

Second, she is behaving like a classic bully.  She hurls insults and allegations against others on a continual basis, but as soon as she is challenged she tries to shut-down the opposition, punish her critics, and deplores the meanness of public discourse.

And let’s be clear — Ravitch is a huge source of meanness.  In just the last week (including after her call for an end to meanness) here are some of the missives she has hurled:

This is just a sample of her meanness within the last week.  Her bizarre tirades go on and on and on.

In exposing her false allegation against Deborah Gist and ridiculing her thin-skinned swollen ego I am not primarily seeking to be mean (although I should add that I have nothing against meanness when properly used to defeat bad things).

I have done all of this because respectable people — people who should know better — have been treating Diane Ravitch as if she were a serious person.   She isn’t.  I don’t know whether she has experienced a mental breakdown, has become intoxicated by her new celebrity, or was never a serious person.  Respectable people should be wary.

There are far more serious people out there who have concerns about the influence of wealthy foundations on education policy, who doubt the benefits of school choice, accountability testing, and merit pay, and who would be willing to be interviewed to say as much.  I’m not saying these views are ridiculous.  I am saying that the unsupported, unthoughtful, and hypocritical way in which Diane Ravitch expresses these views is ridiculous.  And ridiculous things are deserving of ridicule.

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10 Responses to VideoGate on NRO

  1. matthewladner says:

    Ravitch has generated attention with her coversion, and has sold a large number of books to her amen-corner, but she isn’t having much if any impact on serious policy discussion.

    The only sad thing is that some profoundly misguided group of people decided to give her an award named after the great Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

    DPM held many positions with which I not only disagreed, but thought were utterly and completely wrong- abolishing the CIA, die-on-a-hill opposition to the 1996 Welfare Reform come to mind.

    DPM’s intellectual honesty, however, was never in question. I’m trying to imagine him basking in the attention of throwing his core beliefs out the window, and then pulling a cheap stunt like what Ravitch attempted in Rhode Island.

  2. Stuart Buck says:

    Two days ago, she tweeted this link twice: http://laststand4children.blogspot.com/2011/05/meet-monica-caldwell-our-new-east-coast.html The point of the link is to mock teachers who disagree with Ravitch as homely, stupid, and incompetent.

    • thatsrightnate says:

      Hmm, I checked out that link and I don’t see any reference to anybody being homely. I guess that’s your hang up. Perhaps, a more attractive woman would garner your respect? As for that link, I’d say, “ridiculous things are deserving of ridicule.”

  3. matthewladner says:

    Somehow I can’t imagine DPM doing anything like that.

    Or turning over a Twitter account with his name on it to little AFT minions to spew a steady stream of nonsense, if that is what is really going on.

  4. Greg Forster says:

    The post by Alexander Russo that Jay links to above is brief but worth reading in full. Nettiquette prevents me from copying and pasting it here, but let me give you a taste:

    “Indeed Ravitch has recounted to me a long list of people and instutions who’ve wronged her. She is aggrieved with great regularity and seems to make admirable use of being slighted. As for the latest case, Gist sent Ravitch a conciliatory letter, according to EdWeek, and Ravitch — this may have been a tactical error — seems to have accepted.”

  5. Mitch says:

    ““Teachers in special ed will have difficult time getting higher scores, so will teachers of gifted, because kids are at or near ceiiing [sic]“”

    Oh, come on. I don’t like Ravitch, and don’t know anything about the fuss and care less. But getting offended about this–and bringing in your own personal history as an attempt to add weight to the issue–is just silly. It is manifestly true that special ed and gifted teachers will have a tough time raising scores. She did not say they couldn’t improve–that was just you looking to be peeved. But the simple truth is that special ed students have more challenges that, on average, means that non-school influences will make it even harder for teachers to have an impact.

    I was actually interested in reading about the silliness Ravitch had engaged in, but now I’m thinking you’re just whining. And really, dragging your child into it? That’s just nasty.

  6. matthewladner says:

    Mitch-

    Someone forgot to tell Florida’s disabled kids that they couldn’t make academic gains. Their 8th grade reading scores increased by more than the general population since 1998. The same is true of 4th grade reading- children with disabilities made 33 points of progress, children without disabilities 19 points.

    One finds the same trend in math scores. In fact the some of the national numbers follow the same general trend. You can go look up the numbers for yourself:

    http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/naepdata/dataset.aspx

    So see, here’s the thing Mitch- what Ravitch and you had to say about disabled children is in fact both ignorant and yes offensive. Attitudes like that, where we are supposed to expect little from children with disabilities and their teachers is a perfect example of the soft bigotry of low expectations. It’s only soft on the adults.

    When you raise expectations through testing and pressure through parental choice, it is the kids who have previously been warehoused who make the biggest gains- whether they are poor, urban or disabled.

  7. [...] of a few recent posts, and Diane Ravitch’s “Videogate” problem, I’ve written my latest Huffington Post column on how education reform [...]

  8. Stuart Buck says:

    She also constantly tweets about testing as if the only purpose is to provide profits for corporations that design or grade tests. This would be as if someone accused Ravitch herself of arguing for nice school facilities only because she wants to allow construction companies to profit.

  9. Stuart Buck says:

    More of Ravitch’s newfound commitment to civility, from today’s round of non-stop twittering:

    “These draconian measures make me wonder if their authors hate teachers, public education and children.”

    “Anti-public ed govs want to prepare workforce for 19th century factory jobs.”

    “Govs wrecking public education: Haslam (TN); Kasich (Oh); Walker (WI); Daniels (IND); Snyder (MI); Christie (NJ); Scott (FLA); Perry (TX).”

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