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:
- Just three days ago she engaged in name-calling to dismiss the efforts of Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton Family by referring to them as the “the billionaire boys club” in a piece on The Daily Beast.
- Four days ago on Twitter she maligned the research by economists finding that, on average, teachers are not more effective with experience or smaller class sizes by suggesting that they are somehow bribed to find this result by funding from the Gates Foundation: “Look to economists he [Gates] pays to tell him that masters degrees & experience don’t raise test scores & larger class size ok“
- Numerous Tweets in the last week suggest that “the billionaire boys club” has “bought” the policies they prefer in public education: “Bill Gates really has bought control of US education,” “Billionaires. Club takes over LAUSD,” “Pearson is too late; US education already purchased by Gates & Broad.”
- When she’s not alleging on Twitter that public officials have been bought by billionaires, she alleges that they are too incompetent to design systems for evaluating public employees like teachers: “Those who can’t teach, pass laws about how to evaluate teachers.”
- And when she’s not trashing the ability of democratically elected policymakers to govern schools, she’s fretting over how to preserve democratic control of schools: “I’m not afraid of teachers. I’m afraid of those who use vast wealth & political power to subvert democracy.” “Not a mixed bag: private money means loss of democratic process. Do what funders tell you to do.” and “You are right. It is scary when private foundations take control of public education. Privatization at top. End of dem?”
- And here’s something that may not sound mean to everyone, but as a parent of a disabled child I can tell you that nothing is meaner than asserting that kids in special education cannot be helped to improve: “Teachers in special ed will have difficult time getting higher scores, so will teachers of gifted, because kids are at or near ceiiing [sic]“
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.