Tuesday, April 11, 2017

An Evening with Diane Ravitch (and friends!)

Diane Ravitch is certainly one of the most outspoken and visible advocates for public education.  I recently had an opportunity to meet her and to hear her speak at a dinner hosted by the Friends of Texas Public Schools.  Much of what she discussed is a part of her daily blogs but I wanted to summarize what I thought were the key points of her presentation.
  •           Diane reminded us that the role of charter schools  was originally to complement the public school system but that it has become, in her words, a “juggernaut for privatization”.
  •           She discussed the overwhelming failures of the Milwaukee and Detroit public school systems and the role that introduction of vouchers played in that trend, also reminding us of the considerable influence exerted on Michigan public schools by Betsy DeVos.
  •           The lack of accountability and transparency continues to be a source of concern as it relates to school choice other than our public schools.  It is well documented that our Lt. Governor believes that the only accountability requirement for these parents is through the parents of children attending other than public schools.
  •           Diane expressed concern that the current push for vouchers will create a lot of  “pop up” schools, schools that seize upon a profit motivate as the driver, not the education of children.  Nothing new here but it’s always helpful to be reminded of the potential ramifications of voucher programs.
  •           In today’s school choice discussion, she stated that, “Schools have the choice, not the parents”.  We are well aware of this but I liked the simplified summary of the stark differences between public schools and other school choice options.
  •           Another of her quotes that resonated with me was, “Who gets the money is not about education reform; it’s about who gets the money.  True education reform would strive to make our public schools as strong as they can be”.
  •           She also noted that, in most communities, our public schools are the vehicle that brings communities together as parents and community members work on shared goals for their children.
Most of you have likely had the opportunity to read Diane’s blogs, to hear her speak, or to read one or more of her books.  Her blog can be found at https://dianeravitch.net/.

I found the interaction with Diane and the subsequent panel discussion with Diane, House Public Education Committee Chairman Huberty, Rep. Bernal and Rep. Van Deaver to be very enlightening and motivational to those who support public education.  Thanks to FoTPS for hosting this dynamic event.

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