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Influential scholar reverses position on school reform

March 4, 2010

The New York Times reports that Diane Ravitch, an assistant secretary of education in the first Bush administration, an “influential education scholar,” and an early proponent of  the federal No Child Left Behind law has reversed her position.

“Accountability, as written into federal law, [is] not raising standards but dumbing down the schools,” Ravitch writes in her most recent book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” She explains that she previously believed that “managerial and structural changes — that is, choice, charters, merit pay and accountability — would help to reform our schools.”

Now she says we’re on the wrong track, and is convinced that protecting the United States’ public schools is important to democracy.

Her colleague, Chester Finn, another former assistant secretary of education, has also changed his views according to the New York Times article.  “‘Accountability’ has turned to test-cramming and bean-counting, often limited to basic reading and math skills,” Finn has written. But rather than return to a historic public school model, he thinks radical change is needed.

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