Diane Ravitch Changes her Mind about School Reform, Testing, and Charter Schools!

Diane Ravitch is a well-respected education historian who at one time was one of the leaders of the conservative movement that promoted the power of standardized testing, school choice, and charter schools to reform public education.  In the past few years, she has undergone an about-face about her views and in the words of a NY Times article (see URL below) an “intellectual crisis”.   She is now referring to testing, choice, etc. as faddish trends that have undermined public education not improved it.  She resigned last year from the boards of two conservative research groups, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.    The article quotes another conservative education reformer, Chester Finn, Jr.,  as saying that “Standards, in many places, have proven nebulous and low,” and  “ ‘Accountability’ has turned to test-cramming and bean-counting, often limited to basic reading and math skills.”   Recently Ravitch was asked how she would reform public education and she replied:   “Nations like Finland and Japan seek out the best college graduates for teaching positions, prepare them well, pay them well and treat them with respect,” she said. “They make sure that all their students study the arts, history, literature, geography, civics, foreign languages, the sciences and other subjects. They do this because this is the way to ensure good education. We’re on the wrong track.”


The NY Times article is available at:



  1. Educational Reform is Dead on Arrival because Teacher Education is a Myth
    Classroom Practices is an Unregulated Market: Investments of money, time, human energy & student lives are made without reference to Educational Value. Professors, Schools of Education & Money Motivated Merchants (Publishers) are the Underwriters of this easily manipulated and unfettered, more than free market in ideas and practices. It is long past time for the Federal Government, or more ideally a group of Veteran Educators to intervene. However, lobbyists who are protecting & exploiting their self-interests overly sway Government, school districts, self-self-serving foundations, and misguided teachers’ Unions who seem to be without capacity to be proactive. The website ahead tells of a nascent effort to bring attention to both the problem and at least one solid and generative way to begin to address this historical need. It speaks to a means by which to better identify Best Instructional Practices in a transparent, scientific and ongoing way. Currently there can be no such thing as Teacher Education, let alone teacher accountability since there is no agreed upon way to even identified what should be the core curriculum & practices of a Teacher Education program. Good will notwithstanding, Professors, Schools of Education & State Education Depts. are not held, nor are they holding themselves responsible for the conflicting and often digressive information that they “teach” as content for Teacher Education. There can be no educational reform until this largely unrecognized misassumption is addressed. There is no other profession extant that is so totally lacking in coherence and sanctioned principles and more importantly PRACTICES.
    Anthony V. Manzo, Professor, Emeritus

  2. Diane Ravitch’s “u-turn” has not been quite as abrupt as it appears in the NYT article. An examination of the archives of the blog, Bridging Differences, a long-running online conversation between Ravitch and Debbie Meier, the evolution of Ravitch’s thinking on a range of education issues from 2007 to the present. Bridging Differences also provides an in-the-moment record of major policy issues in education over the past three years.

  3. This volte-face is pretty mind-blowing — and, of course, heartening in a way, though the diagnosis itself could hardly be thought heartening. I always thought she was one of the more thoughtful folks aligned with the (not-so) “New Right”; it’s nice to see she’s re-aligned. Thanks, Tony.