Diane Ravitch

  • Aired:  03/03/11
  •  | Views: 236,822

Diane Ravitch believes education reform should focus on getting children out of poverty, not finding the bad teachers. (8:11)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT AN HISTORIAN OF

EDUCATION, A PROFESSOR AT N.Y.U.

HER BESTSELLINGING BOOK IS

CALLED, THE DEATH AND LIFE OF

THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL

SYSTEM.

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE

PROGRAM, DIANE RAVITCH.

( APPLAUSE )

♪ ♪ ♪

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

>> WONDERFUL TO BE HERE.

>> Jon: "THE DEATH ASK LIFE OF

THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM

HOW TESTING AND CHOICE ARE

UNDERMINING EDUCATION."

NOW YOU HAVE TO FORGIVE ME, BUT

I BELIEVE IF I'M CORRECT-- AND I

THINK I AM IT'S CONVENTIONAL

WISDOM IS TESTING AND CHOICE ARE

SAVING THE GREAT AMERICAN SCHOOL

SYSTEM.

SO I-- I THINK THE PREMISE OF

YOUR BOOK IS PROBABLY WRONG.

YOU PROBABLY WANT TO TAKE ALL

THAT BACK, DON'T YOU?

GO AHEAD.

>> WELL, LET ME ASK YOUR STUDIO

AUDIENCE.

HOW MUCH DO YOU LIKE TESTING?

( BOOING )

WELL, THAT'S HALF THE ARGUMENT

RIGHT THERE.

>> Jon: I'M NOT SURE THAT'S THE

WAY IT GOES.

( LAUGHTER )

SO WHY IS-- IN YOUR MIND, SO

THIS IS NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND,

RACE TO THE TOP, THESE ARE THE

THINGS THAT ARE DAMAGING OUR

ABILITIES IN SCHOOLS?

IS THAT--

>> YEAH.

BASICALLY, WHAT'S HAPPENED SINCE

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND-- WHICH HAS

NOW BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 10

YEARS-- IS TOOLS HAVE BEEN

TURNED INTO TESTING FACTORIES

AND THERE'S LESS TIME FOR THE

ARTS.

WE HAVE SCHOOLS CUTTING THE ARTS

COMPLETELY.

LESS TIME FOR SCIENCE.

LESS TIME FOR HISTORY.

FOR PHYSICAL EDUCATION, FOR

CIVICS.

ALL THE THINGS THAT MAKE SCHOOL

INTERESTING --

>> YOU ALMOST SAID FUN.

>> NO I STUMBLED ON FUN, IT'S

TRUE.

KIDS HAVE TO HAVE A REASON TO

WANT TO COME TO SCHOOL.

I'VE NEVER MET ANY CHILD WHO

SAID, "I CAN'T WAIT TO GET TO

SCHOOL FOR TEST PREP?"

>> Jon: THEY WOULD STILL HAVE TO

HAVE IT AT SOME LEVEL.

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND CERTAINLY

AROSE OUT OF A NEED TO FIX

SCHOOLS.

IT'S NO AS THOUGH IN THE 90s

SCHOOLS WERE GREAT.

SO WHAT WOULD BE THE RIGHT STEP,

OR IS IT COMPLICATED?

>> WE COULD LOOK, FOR INSTANCE,

AT FINLAND.

THEY'RE THE NUMBER ONE NATION IN

THE WORLD ON THE INTERNATIONAL

TEST.

THEY NEVER GIVE STANDARDIZED

TESTS AT ALL.

THEY FOCUS ON HAVING REALLY

TERRIFIC TEACHERS.

THEY PREPARE THEM WELL.

THEY GIVE THEM LOTS OF SUPPORT

AND THEN THE TEACHERS MAKE UP

THE TESTS AND THEY USE THE TESTS

TO SAY WHICH CHILDREN NEED HELP.

>> Jon: EVEN CRITICS, PEOPLE

THAT, YOU KNOW, THIS "WAITING

FOR SUPERMAN" THEY POINT TO

FINLAND AS WELL.

EVERYBODY POINTS TO FINLAND.

>> BUT FINLAND IS NOT

PRIVATIZING THEIR SCHOOLS.

>> Jon: VERY STRONG TEACHERS

UNION?

>> 100% TEACHER UNIONIZED.

FINLAND IS AN EXAMPLE OF A

COUNTRY THAT'S VERY SUCCESSFUL.

THE POVERTY RATE IS LESS THAN 3%

FOR CHILDREN.

IN THIS COUNTRY IT'S 20% AND

GROWING.

>> Jon: NOW WE'RE ON TO

SOMETHING.

THIS IS-- YOU KNOW, THE

EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IN THE

COUNTRY IS SUCH A COMPLEX

ECOSYSTEM, AND IT APPEARS THAT

THE TEACHERS, BECAUSE THEY ARE

THE MOST VISIBLE AND ON THE

FRONT LINES, ARE THE EASIEST

TARGETS OF THE IRE OF THOSE THAT

WOULD LIKE TO EXPRESS THEIR

FRUSTRATION.

AND IT'S NOT TO SAY THAT

EDUCATION IN THE COUNTRY ISN'T

IN TOUGH TIMES.

WHY DO YOU TEACHERS, DO YOU

THINK, COME UNDER SUCH FIRE AND

HOW IMPORTANT ARE THEY WITHIN

THE SCHEME OF IT?

>> WELL, JON, I'VE BEEN

TRAVELING THIS PAST YEAR SINCE

MY BOOK CAME OUT, AND I'VE GOT

TO 80 OR 90 DIFFERENT PLACES ALL

OVER THE COUNTRY, AND THE ONE

THING I'VE LEARNED IS TEACHERS

ACROSS AMERICA ARE DEMORALIZED.

THEY'RE DEMORALIZED BECAUSE

WE'VE HAD A PUBLIC RHETORIC OF

THE LAST FEW YEARS SAYING THAT

IF TEST SCORES ARE LOW, IT'S THE

TEACHERS' FAULT, AND THAT'S

RIDICULOUS.

BECAUSE IN OUR LOW-POVERTY

SCHOOLS OUR SCORES ARE BEYOND

FINLAND'S.

OUR LOW-POVERTY SCHOOLS DO

INCREDIBLYLY AND IT'S ONLY WHERE

WE HAVE INTENSE POVERTY AND

RACIAL ISOLATION IN PLACES LIKE

DETROIT, WASHINGTON, D.C., AND

BALTIMORE.

WHEREVER YOU FIND POVERTY AND

RACIAL ISOLATION YOU FIND LOW

TEST SCORES BECAUSE KIDS ARE

HOMELESS, THEY'RE HUNGRY,

THEY'RE SICK, NOT GET ANYTHING

MEDICAL CARE.

THOSE THINGS MATTER.

AND YET WE HAVE THIS CORPORATE

REFORM MOVEMENT, HEAVILY FUNDED,

POLITICALLY POWERFUL, BIPARTISAN

SUPPORT THAT SAYS POVERTY

DOESN'T MATTER.

WELL IF YOU'RE HOMELESS AND

YOU'RE HUNGRY, IT DOES MATTER.

>> Jon: ARE THEY SAYING POVERTY

DOESN'T MATTER OR THAT-- I THINK

THERE'S NO DENYING SOME OF THE

PARENTS AND A LOT OF THE PARENTS

AND THE CHILDREN IN THOSE

POVERTY-STRICKEN AREAS AND

SCHOOLS HAVE A PUBLIC SCHOOL

THAT FEELS OUT OF CONTROL TO

THEM, AND THEY WANT AN AVENUE

THAT THEY CAN GO TO.

IS CHOICE THE PROBLEM EITHER?

IT SEEMS LIKE CHARTER SCHOOLS

AREN'T NECESSARILY THE PROBLEM.

NONE OF IT DEALS WITH THE LARGER

ISSUE, WHICH IS THE ENVIRONMENT

AROUND THE SCHOOL.

>> POVERTY IS A PROBLEM.

KIDS CAN BE POOR AND STILL DO

WELL IN SCHOOL.

BUT PEOPLE WHO TEACH IN SCHOOLS

WITH A LOT OF LOW-PERFORMING

KIDS ARE NOT NECESSARILY BAD

TEACHERS.

AND THE WHOLE PUBLIC MONOLOGUE

FOR THE LAST FEW YEARS HAS BEEN

BLAME THE TEACHERS FOR

EVERYTHING.

>> Jon: THAT THING THAT I THINK

HAS BEEN THE MOST MIND-BLOWING

FOR ME WATCHING THIS DEBATE AND

AFTER SITTING THROUGH THE WALL

STREET DEBATES AND THE TAX CUT

DEBATES, TO SEE PEOPLE BLAME THE

AVARICE OF TEACHERS OR THE

IDEA-- HEY, THEY ONLY WORK NINE

MONTHS A YEAR.

GOD FORBID YOU DO THE JOB OF A

TEACHER FOR A YEAR.

IT WILL BLOW YOUR MIND AT HOW--

MY MOTHER WAS A TEACHER FOR

YEARS.

SHE WORKED IN THE EDUCATIONAL

FIELD.

SHE'S STILL IN THE EDUCATIONAL

FIELD.

I COULDN'T BE MORE IMPRESSED BY

WHAT SHE DID AND THE WORK THAT

SHE DID IN HER LIFE.

THOSE PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA.

AND YET, THAT'S THE

CONVERSATION.

>> YEAH, I HAVE BEEN IN MEETINGS

WITH C.E.O.s AND GOVERNORS AND

THEY SIT AROUND SAYING, "OH,

TEACHING, IT'S ANACY JOB, AND

THEY'RE OVERPAID AND THEIR

BENEFITS ARE TOO MUCH."

AND THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT THEY'RE

TALKING ABOUT.

I'VE BEEN IN STATES-- I WAS

RECENTLY IN ARIZONA WHERE THE

AVERAGE TEACHER PAY SOMEWHERE

UNDER $40,000.

I'D LIKE TO SEE A GOVERNOR LIVE

ON $40,000.

>> Jon: BUT THEY GET TO ALSO GO

TO THE DENTIST.

( LAUGHTER )

AND YOU DIDN'T-- YOU DIDN'T

MENTION THAT.

>> THAT'S TRUE.

>> Jon: WHAT CAN BE DONE THOUGH?

WHAT REFORMS-- LET'S SAY THERE

IS-- ARE THERE REFORMS ON THE

TEACHERS' SIDE THAT YOU THINK

ACTUALLY COULD BE IMPLEMENTED

THAT THEY COULD DO THAT COULD

ALSO CHANGE THE CONVERSATION?

IT'S CERTAINLY NOT-- IT'S GOING

TO TAKE A COOPERATIVE EFFORT.

>> WELL, LET ME JUST SAY THAT

THINK THE THINGS THAT ARE BEING

DONE NOW BY SECRETARY DUNCAN, BY

THE GATES FOUNDATION, BY ALL

THESE VERY WEALTHY, POWERFUL

PEOPLE ARE TAKING US DOWN THE

WRONG TRACK BECAUSE THEY'RE

FOCUSED SOLELY ON HOW WE FIND

THE BAD TEACHERS.

I DON'T THINK AMERICA IS OVERRUN

WITH BAD TEACHERS.

I THINK AMERICA IS OVERRUN BY

TOO MUCH POVERTY, TOO MUCH

POVERTY AMONG CHILDREN.

AND IF WE'RE GOING TO TALK ABOUT

WHAT WORKS WE'RE NOT GOING TO BE

TALKING ABOUT WHICH TEACHERS DO

YOU FIND AND PUNISH BECAUSE

THEIR KIDS DIDN'T GET HIGH

SCORES.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> WE SHOULD BE TALKING ABOUT

HOW DO WE MAKE SURE OUR CHILDREN

HAVE ADEQUATE HEALTH CARE AND WE

HAVE PRE-K EDUCATION, BIRTH TO

FIVE-YEAR-OLD EDUCATION.

THERE'S A GAP WHICH KIDS START

SCHOOL.

THERE'S A GAP AT AGE THREE WHERE

POOR KIDS BEGIN AND THEY'RE

ALREADY BEHIND BECAUSE THEY

DON'T HAVE ACCESS.

>> Jon: THE WHOLE BAD TEACHERS

ARGUMENT BLOWS MY MIND.

YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE WORLD?

THERE ARE BAD EVERYTHING.

HOW MANIES ARE YOU BEEN TO THE

BANK TO-- LIKE, THERE ARE CRAPPY

PEOPLE WORKING ALMOST IN EVERY

FIELD.

( LAUGHTER )

AND, YET, SOMEHOW TEACHERS DON'T

HAVE THE LUXURY OF HAVING A

COUPLE OF CRAPPY ONES.

SORRY.

>> WELL, I WAS-- I WAS WITH A

PRINCIPAL THE OTHER DAY IN

CALIFORNIA.

WE WERE ON A TALK SHOW IN LOS

ANGELES.

AND I SAID, "HOW MANY TEACHERS

HAVE YOU SUPERVISED?"

SHE SAID, "I'VE BEEN A PRINCIPAL

FOR 15 YEARS.

I'VE SUPERVISED 300 TEACHERS."

I SAID, "HOW MANY OF THEM WOULD

YOU SAY ARE BAD TEACHERS?"

SHE SAID, "ONE.

>> AND GOT RID OF THAT ONE

TEACHER."

>> Jon: I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT

PRINCIPAL WAS ALLOWED TO KILL A

TEACHER.

( APPLAUSE )

I WOULD CERTAINLY THINK THE

UNION WOULD HAVE TO DO SOMETHING

ABOUT THAT ONE.

( LAUGHTER )

DIANE RAVITCH, "THE GREAT

AMERICAN SCHOOL SYSTEM." THIS IS

MAYBE ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT

SUBJECTS I THI

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