Friday, July 9, 2010

Diane Ravitch at 2010 NEA national convention

Stand Up For Public Education
New Orleans
“I promised to speak out against No Child Left Behind. It's a disaster. It has turned our schools into testing factories. Its requirement that 100 percent of students will be proficient by the year 2014 is totally unrealistic. Any teacher could have told them that.  Thousands and thousands of schools have been stigmatized as failing schools because they could not reach a goal that no state, no nation, and no district has ever reached.  By setting an impossible gol, No Child left behind has delegitimized public education and created a rhetoric of failure and paved the way for privatization.

Public education is the backbone of this democracy, and we cannot turn it over to privateers....The current so-called reform movement is pushing bad ideas. No high-performing nation in the world is privatizing its schools, closing its schools, and inflicting high-stakes testing on every subject on its children. The current reform movement wants to end tenure and seniority, to weaken the teaching profession, to silence teachers’ unions, to privatize large sectors of public education. Don’t let it happen!

"In speaking out, I have consistently warned about the riskiness of school choice. Its benefits are vastly overrated. It undercuts public education by enabling charter schools to skim the best students in poor communities. As our society pursues these policies, we will develop a bifurcated system, one for the haves, another for the have-nots, and politicians have the nerve to boost bout such an outcome.

"...Why expand the number of charters when research shows that on average they don't get better results than regular public schools? Last year, a major evaluation showed that one out of every six charters will get better results, five out of six charters will get no different results or worse results than the regular public schools. A report released just a couple of weeks ago by Mathematica Policy Research once again shows charter middle schools do not get better results than regular public middle schools.

"The National Assessment of Educational Progress, on whose board I served for seven years, has tested charter schools since 2003. In 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, charter schools were compared to regular public schools and have never shown an advantage over regular public schools. Chater schools, contrary to Bill Gates, are not more innovative than regular public schools. The business model and methods of charter schools is this -- longer school days, longer hours, longer weeks and about 95 percent of charter schools are non-union.

"Teachers are hired and fired at will. Teachers work 50, 60, 70 hours a week. They are expected to burn out after two or three years when they can be replaced. No pension worries, no high salaries. This is not a template for American education.

"....Stand up to the attacks on public education ... Stand up for teachers. Stand up for public education."