I just wanted to put forth some of what Diane Ravitch talked about in her recent appearance here in Seattle at the elementary/middle school principals convention.
- She opened by pointing to the Chehalis Caribbean band who had been entertaining the crowd beautifully as people filtered into the room. To big applause she asked, "Where does that show up on a test?"
- She pointed out that no nation whose K-12 students are performing well are using any of the tactics/techniques being pushed here in the U.S. Not charters, not frequent student/teacher testing, not merit pay and not vouchers.
- She said that 40-50% of teachers leave within five years and there should be a way to make teaching more stable and attractive. That said, she stated she could understand why, in the last five years, more teachers have left. No one wants to be overworked, underpaid AND now, demonized by people who should know better.
- She got a big laugh when she said that carrots and sticks were for donkeys, not people.
- She received a big hand when she pointed out that a lot of ed reform takes away local control. That's a good point and I wonder how ed reformers explain that one.
- Another big hand came when she explained that when you put concentrated poverty in the same school with racial isolation, the outcome is lower test scores.
- Diane visited Finland and said there is virtually no attrition in teaching and very few children living in poverty. She said the U.S. leads the world in child poverty which is now at 20% in our country. This, she said, is the REAL crisis.
- Another round of applause when she said that state legislators, who know very little about education, should stop telling teachers and principals how to do their jobs.
- She explained her theory of why merit pay does not work. She said teachers want to collaborate, not compete against each other.
- She mentioned that Louisiana is moving toward a voucher program for about half the children in the state. She pointed out that Milwaukee, WI has had a voucher program for the last 21 years but their test scores have not radically improved.
- She got nervous laughter when she pointed out the dangers for teachers if kids figure out/find out that their teacher is being assessed on their test scores.
- In NYC, where they recently made public every single public school teacher's test scores, the teacher dubbed "the worst" had her photo on the front page of the New York Post, was harassed at her home and so was her elderly father at his home. This teacher has taught recent-to-the-country ELL students for the last 10 years.
- Diane called RTTT "NCLB 2.0".
- She called the cheating scandal in Atlanta "organizational midconduct."
- The biggest applause of her speech? That the feds should fully-fund their 40% of Special Education costs. Clearly an issue everywhere in our country.