Book review: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education (Diane Ravitch)

Via on Jul 26, 2010

This is one of the most important, articulate, meaningful, and provocative books on education to come out in recent years.

Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and former Assistant Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, at one time was a proponent of high stakes testing and charter schools, but has since changed her stance after seeing the impact of NCLB, the charter movement, and the impact of private foundations without public accountability on public schools.

In this book, she advocates for a back to basics, liberal arts education that broadens the focus of student learning beyond what is looked for on the typical state test (namely reading, writing, mathematics, and perhaps science). Ravitch also encourages the return of classroom control to educators versus allowing politicians and business people make decisions about not only how schools should be run, but what students should be taught and how to teach them. Ravitch agrees that schools and teachers need to be held accountable, but filling in bubbles on a multiple choice, high stakes (for all but the students and parents) test only encourages cheating and score manipulation rather than actually demonstrating what a student knows.

This book is highly recommended for anyone with even a tertiary interest in education and what our students should and do know by the time they finish school. From Basic Books and available from your local, independent bookseller. (Shop local, shop independent, and tell ‘em you saw it on Elephant Journal.com!)

About Todd Mayville

Todd is a single dad of four diverse and lively kids, and is an English teacher and climbing team coach at a local public high school. A rock climber, cyclist and avid reader, Todd also practices yoga and meditation as often as he possibly can, which helps him stay at least a little centered and sane.

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One Response to “Book review: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education (Diane Ravitch)”

  1. [...] The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Educa…. In this book, Ravitch advocates for a back to basics, liberal arts education that broadens the focus of student learning beyond what is looked for on the typical state test (namely reading, writing, mathematics, and perhaps science). She also encourages the return of classroom control to educators versus allowing politicians and business people make decisions about not only how schools should be run, but what students should be taught and how to teach them. [...]

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