Diane Ravitch is arguing that the President Obama’s educational agenda – using federal money to woo states to facilitate the expansion of charter schools and tie teacher evaluations to test scores – is a violation of states’ rights. In a letter to the Department of Education, she urges “respect (for) the requirements of federalism” and counsels that “(h)umility is sometimes the best policy, especially when you are not on firm ground with your remedies.”
Kevin Carey at “The Quick and the Ed” (click the link for a full copy of the letter) suggests that Ravitch’s argument is specious: no one’s ever tried to tie test results to student evaluations so we don’t know if it will help, and the caps on charter schools stifle meaningful competition so we have no way to determine if expansion will produce better results. He also says that Ravitch’s defense of state control of education amounts to “preserving a system of vicious institutionalized racism” embodied in the vast disparities in academic performance between whites and minorities, though it’s more accurately a system of vicious institutionalized classism. High income students get to draw from the pockets of excellence and poor students are stuck with the rags.
Not to be inflammatory, but how is Ravitch’s defense of states’ rights in education different from Senator Strom Thurmond’s defense of states’ rights in racial segregation? (He holds the record for the longest filibuster speech in Senate history – 24 hours and 18 minutes – as he attempted to derail the Civil Rights Act of 1957.)
From Ravitch’s letter to the US DOE:
I think the DOE should respect the requirements of federalism and look to states to offer their best ideas rather than mandating policies that the current administration likes, even though there is no evidence to support them.
There wasn’t much “evidence” to support eliminating Jim Crow policies either. Is that the scent of magnolias in the room? Really, she’s too smart to stoop to this.