Diane Ravitch Politicizes Another Tragedy

Oct 23, 2013 by

RiShawn_Biddle.jpg1RiShawn Biddle –

No one beats once-respectable education historian Diane Ravitch when it comes to using senseless tragedies to defend traditionalist thinking. She proved herself adept at this base behavior last December when she penned claptrap on her eponymous site about the massacre of 26 teachers and children in Newtown, Conn., that was mostly devoted to arguing against Nutmeg State Gov. Dan Malloy’s school reform efforts (including the expansion of charter schools, Ravitch’s bogeyman of late) instead of lauding the heroism of teachers and school leaders such as Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung (who was slain while protecting a child from the murderous rampage of Adam Lanza). Ravitch would get another comrade in sophistry when Karen Lewis, the president of the American Federation of Teachers’ Chicago affiliate, defended Ravitch and upped the ante with her own blame-reformers-for-tragedy game.

So it isn’t surprising that Ravitch took time out of her day to engage in more base intellectual charlatanism hidden under the guise of lamenting tragedy, this time, the shooting at Sparks Middle School in Nevada that left one teacher murdered and two children wounded. “Quoting” a letter from a former teacher-turned-consultant who lives within the district that operates the school, Ravitch once again attempts to essentially argue that reform efforts — including the standardized testing that has helped identify the underlying causes of the nation’s education crisis as well as support the development of techniques to hold adults in schools accountable for their work with children — is the reason why the massacre took place. Declares the former teacher, Debra A. Feemster, in the letter Ravitch promoted on her site: ” I feel that given the relentless, inflexible and unyielding focus on “test-taking” and school rankings and scores, etc., could have possibly contributed to this horrible school shooting… If one teacher, counselor or administrator had had a few extra minutes to look into this student’s eyes and possibly connected with him in a meaningful way, maybe this catastrophe could have been averted.”Your editor could spend some time pointing out that there is no evidence that testing has ever led to such tragedy. I can also point to the overwhelming evidence that testing itself actually helps children in their learning by allowing kids to learn from their mistakes and get the help from high-quality teachers they need in order to improve in areas in which they are struggling (as well as in tracking and addressing the progress of teachers, school leaders, schools, and school operators that serve our kids). But the Sparks Middle School shooting isn’t an appropriate time to go through all this. What I will say is that once again, Ravitch, this time using Feemster’s letter as a Trojan Horse, is engaging in pure and inappropriate intellectual demagoguery in obituary form. It is indefensible. And any ally of Ravitch who attempts to defend her sophistry is equally as lacking in decency as she is.

Certainly Ravitch could have found a more-appropriate topic through which she could argue for her positions. She could have even devoted her piece to discussing how the Sparks Middle School tragedy is another opportunity for all of us to build caring cultures for our children. But befitting Ravitch’s intellectual charlatanism as well as her long and recent record of engaging in shameless demagoguery, she is clearly incapable of decency or logical thinking. Once again, she has proven herself not worth giving serious consideration.Meanwhile Ravitch actually missed an opportunity to simply focus on honoring Michael Landsberry, a former Marine Corp. soldier-turned-teacher who gave up his own life yesterday to save those of children at Sparks Middle School. Landsberry’s move to walk calmly to the alleged shooter and attempt to stop him from taking the lives of his schoolmates helped save the lives of at least 64o of the children attending the school. What Landsberry did is make the kind of sacrifice all of our teachers should do for all of our children — and his example is one all adults in our schools should follow every day in everything they do. We should all keep Landsberry’s actions, along with those of other good and great teachers, in our hearts and minds — and give our own lives to saving the futures of all our kids so they can write their own stories of success.

via Dropout Nation » Diane Ravitch Politicizes Another Tragedy.

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