Alter and Duncan demolish Ravitch


(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Jonathan Alter calls out Little Ramona. Money quote from Ed Sec. Arne Duncan:

Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama’s normally mild-mannered education secretary, has finally had enough. “Diane Ravitch is in denial and she is insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country who are proving her wrong every day,” he said when I asked about Ravitch this week.



8 Responses to Alter and Duncan demolish Ravitch

  1. Daniel Earley says:

    Aside from almost posthumously offending Whittaker Chambers in a reverse analogy, great article. Given that she’s precisely an “anti-Whittaker Chambers” a simpler metaphor would have been Ethel Rosenberg or Tokyo Rose. Alas.

  2. Robin Bingham says:

    Dear Mouthpiece for the Walton Foundation Posing as a Professor,

    You continually call on Ravitch to use ALL the facts, rather than pick and choose, but you fail to do so yourself. Read this article by a fellow education researcher like yourself, about Bruce Randolph:

    I don’t check your blog often, but I’ve noticed an increasing number of entries dedicated to smearing Ravitch, without more than a smattering of facts to back you up. I hope you return it to a more thoughtful analysis of true education reform efforts as you once purported to make it.

  3. Diane Hanfmann says:

    And I thought April Fool’s Day was over. Better late than never! Did Duncan misspeak and say Ravitch while describing Rhee?

  4. matthewladner says:

    Ms. Bingham-

    Jonathan Alter works for Bloomberg News and NBC. Arne Duncan works for President Obama. These gentlemen are on the other side of the ideological fence from me, and only the most tin-foil hat theorist would place them in any sort of “Walton Family Foundation conspiracy,” if you wish to entertain yourself by believing in such a thing.

    Note however that they see the same pattern of sloppy thinking and deceit in Ravitch that we and many others, on both the left and the right, have commented on repeatedly.

  5. Robin Bingham says:

    Mr. Greene,
    Please read the link I posted on your site before responding so flippantly.

    The fact that Alter’s affiliation with a news organization and Obama’s Democratic credentials have little to do with their Educational Ideologies. I know little about Alter, but Obama’s administration has done more for the School Deform movement through Race to the Top. Duncan was a lead Deform Movement Advocate in Chicago, and his work as Education Secretary has done more for the Deform movement than any Republican appointee in history, (save, perhaps Ravitch’s old boss) and I think they would be proud to say so.

    I’m speaking more of your accusation of ‘sloppy thinking’ on the part of Ravitch. You need to respond with something less sloppy than a photograph of Mohamad Ali in order to really convince anyone. As Neiman points out in the blog I linked to your page above, (which by the way, is not exactly bashing the Deform movement, rather calling for some honesty on the part of Deformers in their work to make schools better),

    “The Bruce Randolph that was described as a failure was a middle school only. Thus it makes sense to look at the scores the middle grades received in their most recent testing. And they are dismal.

    The middle school’s math score is the 5th percentile. This means, of course, that 95 percent of the schools in Colorado outperformed it. In addition, fewer than 21 percent of students are at the proficient or advanced math levels.

    Achievement goes down from there. In science, the school comes in at the 2nd percentile, with fewer than 10 percent meeting the standard. In writing and reading, Bruce Randolph students at the middle school level are at the lowest possible level, the 1st percentile. Isn’t it curious that this school would be highlighted by the President as an example of the success of the ‘turnaround model?'”

    Her point is that Deformers should not claim miracles unless they truly are miracles.

    I work as a teacher, and am about to set off for the graduation ceremony at my old high school. Our graduation rates have also soared, but sadly, I cannot claim that all the children receiving their diplomas today really earned them. In fact, with the new emphasis on graduation rates, our district (Baltimore) has taken to dredging up students who haven’t shown up for anywhere up to 90 days in a row, to drag them across the stage. And yes, the Deform movement claims that Baltimore is a miracle city. In just 3 years, we have cut our drop-out rate in half. If this is an argument of semantics and dictionary definitions, than we can celebrate. Otherwise, it’s smoke and mirrors in the service of corporate (i.e. Walmart) takeovers of public education.

    • allen says:

      Not that it’s likely to have any effect but you vitiate any credibility, and the likelihood that anyone will read past your second paragraph, with your pedestrian name-calling.

      If you must engage in name-calling try to exert what creativity you possess to make the name-calling entertaining. I’m sure you get a thrill up your leg every time you type the word “Deform” but it’s a thrill unlikely to be shared by prospective readers.

  6. Matthew Ladner says:

    Greene didn’t write this post, nor did he respond to you in the comments. I entirely agree with Allen.

  7. concerned says:

    Sorry to butt in on this current situation, but I’d like to read your take on

    Porter et al. take a look at international comparisons, comparing Common Core math standards to the eighth grade standards for Finland, Japan, and Singapore. The alignments are 0.21, 0.17, and 0.13, respectively. The starkest difference in each case is that these countries place much more emphasis on “perform procedures” than do the Common Core standards. On language arts and reading, comparison with standards from Ontario, Finland, Sweden, and New Zealand yielded alignments between 0.09 and 0.37.

    So, does this mean that the Common Core’s standards are better than what’s in place, or is this worrisome news? Porter and his colleagues make it clear that it’s hard to know for sure. The Common Core seems to represent “a change for the better” when it comes to “higher order cognitive demand” but the “answer is less clear” when it comes to topics.


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