Audrey Watters in a review of Diane Ravitch’s new book:
But in her attempts to challenge the “schools are broken” narrative, I worry we’re left with the unstated reverse: “schools are fine” (or at least those schools that aren’t in high poverty areas). Even if we were to scrap high-stakes testing tomorrow and institute, as Ravitch calls for, “a full, balanced, and rich curriculum including the arts, science, history, literature, civics, geography, foreign languages, mathematics, and physical education,” I don’t think we could say “schools are fine.” Not if they remain coercive. Not if there is inequitable funding. Not if classrooms remain teacher-centered. Not if access to powerful computers and to the open Internet is denied. Not if students sit, grouped by age, in rows of desks and move from subject to subject when the bell rings. Not if students are mostly listening and rarely building.
Powerful. I’ve tried to make a similar point about Ravitch’s work (her response speaks volumes,) but Audrey is exactly right that without a stronger, progressive, alternative narrative to define “reform” that people begin to embrace, the anti-reform message really won’t lead to a much better outcome for kids.