Your column is the opposite; using rhetoric and invective instead of evidence and careful reasoning to attack one of the leaders in the efforts to preserve our public schools from the corporate reformers who want to impose a free-market, competitive business model. Many of them are being funded by Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Walton family, who argue that resources and large classes don't matter for poor kids, while sending their own children to private schools where the tuition is $30,000 per year and class sizes are 20 or less.
The move towards privatization (and yes, charters are schools that are privately run, with public money) is leading to even more inequitable conditions, as charters enroll far fewer of our most at risk students (ELL, homeless, free lunch and special education), students who instead are increasingly concentrated in our public schools. Charter schools also have very high attrition rates, for both students and teachers. The silliest comment above is from Duncan, who claims that Diane is "insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country" whereas it is she who has been defending them against Duncan, who has called for mass firings of teachers and wants to impose unfair evaluation and merit pay schemes, policies that don't work and will further undermine the teaching profession.
Moreover, Diane supports real education reforms that work: like equitable funding, experienced teachers, smaller classes, and a well-rounded curriculum. I guess your attack, as well as Duncan's, is a sign of how threatened the corporate reformers are whenever someone who opposes their policies has a chance to air their views in the mainstream media, because they fear that an open debate will lead to more people understanding their systematic distortion of data.
Let the debate begin and let all sides have a chance to air their views in the mainstream media, and not be frightened off by this sort of underhanded attack. I'm sure Diane won't be. - Leonie Haimson
Of course, her allies (like me) have spent, you seem to forget, their adult lives working daily, year after year, to reinvent the way we "do" schooling for the sake of our faltering democracy. Odd as it seems to call folks like me defenders of the status quo to call someone like Ravitch akin to a "reformed" Communist and a "reformed" traitor is...I can't find a word for it. It's also utterly puzzling as a metaphor. I'm not clear in this usage of history whether you see Chambers or Hiss as the hero or villain? The only similarity is that Chambers changed his mind. Is that the sin?
We all make mistakes--but you owe Ravitch and many others an apology. -- Deborah Meier
Mr. Alter: Yours is perhaps the most mendacious essay I've ever seen. The outright dismissal of Dr. Ravitch's use of the very same statistics that privatizers use to tout their lucrative education schemes is humorous. The fact that she can derive the correct conclusion from them is what scares those bent on profiting from education.
#1) Begin with a sports analogy, Arne's go-to technique when the data isn't really on his side.
#2) Choose a person, rather than policies or solutions, as your target, because it doesn't require as much intellectual horsepower in analysis. For good measure, compare her to a Communist, "in denial."
#3) Trot out resonant cliches--"favor the status quo," "phenomenal results," "hardworking teachers," "sophisticated evaluations," "take down...an inner-city school"--and, my personal favorite, "working with unions." As if.
#4) Use lots of little deceptive captions, like "Classroom Malpractice" and "Misuse of Statistics" so that your average column skimmer will come away with an impression, rather than a more complex analysis of what's really going on in this your-research vs. my-research policy skirmish.
#5) Frost it all with incendiary language: "slimed," "pernicious," "malpractice."
Educators across the board respect Diane Ravitch's scholarship and conclusions. She made your buddy Arne look bad by uncovering the real data on his miracle schools. Assassinating her character makes you look bad in turn. For shame. -- Nancy Flanagan