In this review of Diane Ravitch’s book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education,” Gary Houchens, a former teacher, principal, and school administrator, criticizes Ravitch for the “mistake” she makes in conflating school choice and testing. Houchens writes, “There are many excellent public schools throughout the U.S. But Ravitch and defenders of the educational status quo seem blind to the fact that millions of children are being grossly underserved by government-run schools, which are the only option for most families of modest means. “
Houchens, now a professor of Educational Administration, Leadership, and Research at Western Kentucky University, continues,
And this is another fundamental point that Ravitch and many other school choice opponents seem to miss. Just like traditional public schools, some schools of choice will be successful, while others will fail. The difference is that schools of choice that fail to satisfy their clients will go out of business, whereas failing public schools will continue to drain millions of dollars of taxpayer money forever. School choice is not a panacea for all of education’s problems, but it gives many families something they can only dream of under the current system: an option.
Ravitch’s tendency to associate all choice advocates with the push for standardized testing and paint them all with a “corporate” label grossly oversimplifies the great diversity in the education reform movement and among school choice supporters in general…Lumping them all together serves Ravitch’s rhetorical purpose of painting school choice in the most negative light possible and represents one of the most potentially destructive aspects of her work.