Yes, Homer Simpson is an exemplary model of doing something really stupid and realizing his mistake only when it’s too late to fix it. I hope that’s what Diane Ravitch is feeling these days – not that it will do any good for the rest of us.
Ravitch served in President Bush’s Education Department and was one of the leading advocates of the No Child Left Behind law that has afflicted public education for the last decade. Schools across the country scramble to meet the rigorous testing standards with insufficient funding, and every year the bar is raised higher and higher. By the year 2014, schools are supposed to make certain 100% of the students score proficient or above on every test – and continue to do so forevermore. That’s 100%. Even special education students. Even students who don’t speak English and can’t read the test.
Recently, however, Ravitch has come to realize that she may have made a mistake. She now calls the hallmarks of NCLB (standardized testing and charter schools) “faddish trends” which are undermining our school system. She suddenly noticed that the emphasis on reading and math testing has squeezed out history, art, music, and physical education. Ravitch is surprised to discover that her system of accountability has caused “test cramming and bean counting” to replace quality education. I don’t know if she’s noticed yet that non-English speakers are having a little trouble passing the test, but obviously her learning curve is kind of shallow. NCLB is a Frankenstein monster.
Slap your forehead, Ms. Ravitch. We could have told you this a long time ago. In fact, I think we did tell you. Now, how are you going to get rid of the monster?