Jay Greene Reviews Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error”

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It’s worth a full read, but here’s a sample:

Reign of Error should be understood as a form of therapy. It soothes the outraged educator by articulating that anger and giving it legitimacy. And educators have some reason to be outraged. They are losing autonomy over their daily work life, as control over education is increasingly centralized and politicized. They are under pressure to teach according to some script meant to increase performance on standardized tests. They feel threatened with consequences if those test results are not favorable. They see young twerps from elite colleges with little classroom experience assuming positions of power in state departments of education and cash-gushing foundations.

Reign of Error is a venting of collective anger, but it is not a productive catharsis. Ravitch is so reckless in her interpretation of evidence that she and anyone citing her would lack credibility in policy discussions with those possessing a passing familiarity with the research. The selective and faulty reading of evidence is so pervasive in Reign of Error that it would take a volume of equal or greater length just to document and rebut all the instances of it.

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