Dr. Ravitch, we welcome you to our district where we embrace our diversity - public discourse in our school and the community – and our pursuit of “school the way it oughta be” for every single student, not some, every day.
I expect that Dr. Ravitch is speaking to the choir tonight and there are many who agree with all that she presents - and there those who perhaps do not. As Dr. Ravitch knows, as a practitioner, I must admit I find myself positioned awkwardly on some issues. On one hand, I rail against those seeking to control or dismantle the mission of public education. My colleagues and I are those leading the charge against excessive testing, labeling teachers with scores, narrowing curriculum as a result of the former, unfunded mandates and more. On the other hand, I see that we must leverage continuous improvement in our schools – through professional learning and not more testing - and I see the value in rigorous academic standards as long as the local district has choice in the design of their curriculum with dynamic instruction and authentic assessments.
So - as I thought about this introduction, I kept going back to the story that many of you have most likely heard - the story about the drunk crawling around under the corner streetlight. He is approached by a wise Samaritan who asks what he is doing. “I lost my keys over there across the street.” “Then why are you looking here?” she asks. “Because the light’s better! Yes – there are too many people – many of whom who are not educators – who have drunk the kool-aid – that are too many seeking to dismantle public education and crawl under the light as the ideological glow of quick fixes, a business model, a way to churn out test scores, or a way to fund their beliefs.
Diane Ravitch knows that light is like Dorothy’s rainbow, that there is no superman, and, as she highlights in the first half of her book, that too many people are espousing myths and looking for answers in all the wrong places. We are fortunate that Dr. Ravitch knows there are many keys to be found to educate every single child in remarkable public schools with remarkable professional teachers and leaders and local policy makers – and those keys can be found in the second half of her book.
Dr. Ravitch comes to us via the public schools in Houston, Wellesley College and Columbia University. She is a research professor, was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by our neighbor President Bill Clinton, and among her many achievements, received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize, an award that honors those who champion informed judgment to advance the public good, use sound analysis and research in policy making, and contribute to the civility of public discourse while pursuing a bipartisan approach to society’s most pressing problems.
So, at this time, I would like to introduce Dr. Ravitch – but I am not – that distinguished role belongs to a teacher, one our school librarians, Susan Polos.
link to speech: