by Max Brantley
Interesting interview on NPR this morning with Diane Ravitch, a conservative Bush-era education official who's rethinking No Child Left Behind and the conservative orthodoxy about free market competition in education and the need for high-stakes tests. (Have faith, the naysayers will intone. The remnant, ravaged school districts populated by the demographic dregs will figure out how to get better after all the cream is skimmed by vouchers, charters, etc.)
Part of the reason schools were so intent on achieving high tests scores was because they were competing with other schools for resources, which were often doled out on that basis alone.
Ravitch is critical of the impact this had on schools.
"There should not be an education marketplace, there should not be competition," Ravitch says. "Schools operate fundamentally — or should operate — like families. The fundamental principle by which education proceeds is collaboration. Teachers are supposed to share what works; schools are supposed to get together and talk about what's [been successful] for them. They're not supposed to hide their trade secrets and have a survival of the fittest competition with the school down the block."
She writes that choice has largely been a failure in lifting achievement. In her interview with NPR, she says that research shows charter schools have mostly failed to exceed the performance of conventional public schools. Give a read and listen.