Public Education: Dead in 10 Years?


Public Schools in some major cities will be dead within 10 years, says former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch. According to Ms. Ravitch, a double-whammy combo of increasingly popular charter schools and the Common Core Curriculum will cause the public education system in numerous major cities to go belly-up as we know it.

As her interview in Salon reports:

In a wide-ranging conversation last week, Ravitch spoke with Salon about new data touted by charter school supporters, progressive divisions over Common Core, and Chris Christie’s ed agenda. “There are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now,” Ravitch warned.

Ms. Ravitch worked in high political positions for the administrations of Bush Sr., Clinton, and Bush Jr. She was one of the top cheerleaders of Bush Jr’s “No Child Left Behind” school testing program. It has been a resounding failure. The decline of public schools has not been reversed. Now, she opposes the program.

She urges reform. With bureaucrats like Ravitch, it’s always about the next reform. The next great reform, we are always told, will be the key to fixing public schools. They never work. Things always get worse. SAT scores began declining in the 60s. This has never reversed.

The new big fad in public education is the Common Core curriculum. In a rare moment of stunning clarity, Ms. Ravitch sees Common Core for what it is: “More Children Left Behind”.

The fact is, we have no evidence that the Common Core standards are what we say they are until we’ve tried them. They haven’t been tried anywhere, they’ve been tested — and we know that where they’re tested, they cause massive failure. So I would say we need to have more time before we can reach any judgment that they have some miracle cure embedded in them.
In New York State when they gave the Common Core testing last spring, 3 percent of the English [language] learners passed it. 97 percent failed it…

Common Core will be an epic failure. It will be another in a long line of highly-touted education reforms which fall flat on their face. Then we can move on to the next great reform, which we will be told will make everything better. It won’t.

Ms. Ravitch unfortunately loses her clarity as she attacks charter schools.

Charter schools [are] allowed to throw out the kids they don’t want. They’re allowed to throw out the kids with low scores. They’re allowed to exclude the kids who have severe disabilities. They’re allowed to not accept the kids that don’t speak English. And then you’re going to compare them to… the schools that take all those kids? I mean, really — this is ridiculous.

…This is trending toward a dual school system: One school system for the privileged kids, or the kids who don’t have big problems… the charters, that are allowed to choose their students and exclude those they don’t want. And the other one, that’s required to take everyone.

Ravitch is dancing around the real reason why charter schools operate this way: they boot the rotten apples. Perpetual troublemakers and general bad eggs who clearly are not interested in education are booted. This raises the lowest common denominator in the school environment. It improves the learning atmosphere and makes the school better. If those kids don’t want to be there, and they make life hell for the good students, then why not boot them? Students are happy. Rotten eggs are happy. Parents are happy. This is why charter schools have become so popular.

But Ms. Ravitch claims this is elitist. She demands that good students be forced to stew amongst the lowest common denominators. It is unfair that good students who care about education should be allowed to congregate and study free of distractions from rotten troublemakers. The State, therefore, should step in and force parents to enroll their children into public schools at gunpoint.

Ms. Ravitch has an idea on how to improve public schools:

To insist that every school offer children a full education that includes not only the basics of reading and writing and mathematics, but science and the arts, and for language and history and civics. Make sure that every school in this country is appropriately funded. That is, that it has the resources that it needs for the children it enrolls. That’s just basic. We don’t do that now.

Ahhh, Of course. More funding. Why didn’t I think of that?

The old bureaucratic standby: “We need more money!”

The answer is always “more funding”. The public education bureaucrats always promise better results, if only they get more funding. Then they get more funding. Public Schools continue to get worse, as they always have. Then they cry out for more funding. The cycle continues.

There are schools that are being starved of funding, and more and more of the funding is being directed to vendors. And there are cities where there’s not going to be public education 10 years from now. That’s not good. Public education is one of the foundational institutions for a democracy. And yet there will be cities without public education. Their schools will be run by private management. And the private managers will be free to choose their students and exclude ones they don’t want.

“Public education is one of the foundational institutions for a democracy.”
This statement betrays Ravitch for who she really is: a high priestess for the religion of the State. She is one of the top cheerleaders for the only state-sanctioned church in America: the Public Education system. She is a true progressive who believes in the power of government-sponsored education to radically transform humanity and bring political salvation to the masses.

Newly-elected mayor of New York Bill de Blasio has been on a crusade to close charter schools in New York, ostensibly for some of the reasons Ravitch discussed earlier. However, the real reason is this: de Blasio understands that one of the top keys to State power and control lies in the State church, the Public Education system. If children are allowed to be drawn out of the Public Education system, the ability of the government to indoctrinate and mold children as they grow is severely threatened. De Blasio, like Ravitch, is a true progressive and a fervent believer in the religion of the State. He does not like charter schools because they decrease the power and prestige of the government, which he considers to be a force of messianic salvation for the masses. He is not happy unless parents are being forced under threat of violence to send their kids to be educated in the State churches.

Ravitch ends her interview with this:

Why destroy public education so that a handful of people can boast they have a charter school in addition to their yacht?

She brings up yachts. Ms. Ravitch is appealing to envy.

Envy is destructive. Nothing good comes out of envy. There is no sense in envy. It is an immoral thought-process. But it’s the only thing left for Ms. Ravitch to appeal. Ms. Ravitch appeals to envy because she knows, deep down, that the Public Education system is failing and that nothing can save it.

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