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The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Educationby Diane Ravitch
Synopses & Reviews
A passionate plea to preserve and renew public education, The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a radical change of heart from one of America’s best-known education experts.
Diane Ravitch—former assistant secretary of education and a leader in the drive to create a national curriculum—examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions that she once staunchly advocated. Drawing on over forty years of research and experience, Ravitch critiques today’s most popular ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the feckless multiplication of charter schools. She shows conclusively why the business model is not an appropriate way to improve schools. Using examples from major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Denver, and San Diego, Ravitch makes the case that public education today is in peril.
Ravitch includes clear prescriptions for improving America’s schools:
The Death and Life of the Great American School System is more than just an analysis of the state of play of the American education system. It is a must-read for any stakeholder in the future of American schooling.
Book News Annotation:
Ravitch (a professor of education at New York U. and a former Assistant Secretary of Education and member of the National Assessment Board) reverses her previous support of educational policies of testing, accountability, choice, charter schools, and markets as panaceas for the failures of the American educational system. Addressing a general audience, she reviews the recent experience with these policies at various levels, from the national on down, and details their failures, often echoing the arguments of longstanding critics of such policies. In her conclusion, she argues that the most important area of schooling that requires attention is the improvement of curricula, pointing to Japan and Finland as examples of excellence in this area (she remains critical of what she sees as left-wing and right-wing attempts to limit curricula for political reasons). Annotation ©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Award-winning author, public intellectual, and former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch critiques a lifetimes worth of school reforms and reveals the simple—yet difficult—truth about how we can create actual change in public schools
About the Author
Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. President Clinton appointed her to the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees federal testing. She is the author or editor of over twenty books, including The Language Police and Left Back, and her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. A native of Houston, Ravitch graduated from the Houston public schools, Wellesley College, and Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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