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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 11/30/2010

Ravitch answers Gates

By Valerie Strauss

In a paean to Bill Gates, Newsweek's Jonathan Alter calls Diane Ravitch the Microsoft founder's "chief adversary."

It's the world's richest (or second richest) man vs. an education historian and New York University research professor.

Gates, through his philanthropic foundation, has invested billions of dollars in education experiments and now has a pivotal role in reform efforts. Ravitch, the author of the bestselling The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has become the most vocal opponent of the Obama administration's education policy. She says Gates is backing the wrong initiatives and harming public schools.

In the Newsweek piece, Gates poses some questions aimed at Ravitch. I asked her to answer them. Below are the questions Gates asked, in bold, and the answers, in italics, that Ravitch provided in an email.

Gates: “Does she like the status quo?"
Ravitch: "No, I certainly don't like the status quo. I don't like the attacks on teachers, I don't like the attacks on the educators who work in our schools day in and day out, I don't like the phony solutions that are now put forward that won't improve our schools at all. I am not at all content with the quality of American education in general, and I have expressed my criticisms over many years, long before Bill Gates decided to make education his project. I think American children need not only testing in basic skills, but an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics, and physical education.

"I don't hear any of the corporate reformers expressing concern about the way standardized testing narrows the curriculum, the way it rewards convergent thinking and punishes divergent thinking, the way it stamps out creativity and originality. I don't hear any of them worried that a generation will grow up ignorant of history and the workings of government. I don't hear any of them putting up $100 million to make sure that every child has the chance to learn to play a musical instrument. All I hear from them is a demand for higher test scores and a demand to tie teachers' evaluations to those test scores. That is not going to improve education."

Gates: "Is she sticking up for decline?"
Ravitch: "Of course not! If we follow Bill Gates' demand to judge teachers by test scores, we will see stagnation, and he will blame it on teachers. We will see stagnation because a relentless focus on test scores in reading and math will inevitably narrow the curriculum only to what is tested. This is not good education.

"Last week, he said in a speech that teachers should not be paid more for experience and graduate degrees. I wonder why a man of his vast wealth spends so much time trying to figure out how to cut teachers' pay. Does he truly believe that our nation's schools will get better if we have teachers with less education and less experience? Who does he listen to? He needs to get himself a smarter set of advisers.

"Of course, we need to make teaching a profession that attracts and retains wonderful teachers, but the current anti-teacher rhetoric emanating from him and his confreres demonizes and demoralizes even the best teachers. I have gotten letters from many teachers who tell me that they have had it, they have never felt such disrespect; and I have also met young people who tell me that the current poisonous atmosphere has persuaded them not to become teachers. Why doesn't he make speeches thanking the people who work so hard day after day, educating our nation's children, often in difficult working conditions, most of whom earn less than he pays his secretaries at Microsoft?"

Gates: "Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts?"
Ravitch: "Does Bill Gates realize that every contract is signed by two parties: management and labor? Why does management agree to 400-page contracts? I don't know how many pages should be in a union contract, but I do believe that teachers should be evaluated by competent supervisors before they receive tenure (i.e., the right to due process).

"Once they have due process rights, they have the right to a hearing when someone wants to fire them. The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence.

"Gates probably doesn't know this, but 50% of all those who enter teaching leave within the first five years. Our biggest problem is not getting rid of deadbeats, but recruiting, retaining, and supporting teachers. We have to replace 300,000 teachers (of nearly 4 million) every single year. What are his ideas about how to do this?"

Gates: "Does she think all those ‘dropout factories’ are lonely?"
Ravitch: "This may come as a surprise to Bill Gates, but the schools he refers to as "dropout factories" enroll large numbers of high-need students. Many of them don't speak or read English; many of them enter high school three and four grade levels behind. He assumes the schools created the problems the students have; but in many cases, the schools he calls "dropout factories" are filled with heroic teachers and administrators trying their best to help kids who have massive learning problems.

"Unless someone from the district or the state actually goes into the schools and does a diagnostic evaluation, it is unfair to stigmatize the schools with the largest numbers of students who are English-language learners, special-education, and far behind in their learning. That's like saying that an oncologist is not as good a doctor as a dermatologist because so many of his patients die. Mr. Gates, first establish the risk factor before throwing around the labels and closing down schools."

Gates: "If there’s some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we’re all ears.”
Ravitch: "Here's the sad truth: There is no magic way to reduce the dropout rate. It involves looking at the reasons students leave school, as well as the conditions in which they live. The single biggest correlate with low academic achievement (contrary to the film Waiting for Superman) is poverty. Children who grow up in poverty get less medical care. worse nutrition, less exposure to knowledge and vocabulary, and are more likely to be exposed to childhood diseases, violence, drugs, and abuse. They are more likely to have relatives who are incarcerated. They are more likely to live in economic insecurity, not knowing if there is enough money for a winter coat or food or housing. This affects their academic performance. They tend to have lower attendance and to be sick more than children whose parents are well-off.

"The United States today has a child poverty rate of over 20%, and it is rising. This is a national scandal. The film compares us to Finland, but doesn't mention that their child poverty rate is under 5%. Mr. Gates, why don't you address the root causes of low academic achievement, which is not 'bad teachers,' but poverty. It won't involve magic, but it would certainly require the best thinking that you can assemble. And if anyone can afford to do it, surely you can.

I don't mean to suggest that schools as they are now are just fine: They are not. Every school should have a rich and balanced curriculum; many don't. Every child should look forward to coming to school, for his or her favorite studies and activities, but those are the very studies and activities likely to lose out to endless test preparation. Schools need many things: Some need more resources and better conditions for teaching and learning; all need a stable, experienced staff. Teachers need opportunities for intellectual growth and colleagueship. Tests should be used diagnostically, to help students and teachers, not to allocate bonuses and punishments. Teachers, principals, administrators, parents, and local communities should collaborate to create caring communities, and that's happening in many places. I know that none of this is the "magic way" that you are looking for, Mr. Gates, but any educator will tell you that education is a slow, laborious process that requires good teachers, able leadership, willing students, a strong curriculum, and willing students. None of that happens magically."

I also asked Ravitch about her reaction to the strange comparison Alter made in calling her "the Whittaker Chambers of school reform." She wrote:
"I wondered if Alter knows much about history. Whittaker Chambers renounced Communism and embraced American patriotism. Was Alter suggesting that Bill Gates is the Alger Hiss of school reform? I thought it was a weird analogy.

-0-

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By Valerie Strauss  | November 30, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Diane Ravitch, School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  bill gates, charter schools, diane ravitch, jonathan alter, microsoft, newsweek, school reform, teachers  
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Comments

I'm just so happy that we have someone like Diane Ravitch to speak out for educators, students and real education. I suggest that if Bill Gates wants some street cred on education, he might actually decide to reinvest in the school he helped create in Philadelphia, the HS of the Future. He walked away when reality hit that little venture.

Posted by: Nikki1231 | November 30, 2010 5:34 AM | Report abuse

Sigh. Could either side offer up anything but strawmen arguments?

Ravitch states: 'I think American children need not only testing in basic skills, but an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics, and physical education.'

Tell me *anyone* who disagrees. Tell me a single person arguing against an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences et al.

Or take the statement 'The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence.'

First, every single employee *regardless of union status* has legal due process rights when an employer acts in a discriminatory manner counter to federal or state law. As a private employer with numerous employees, I can't fire any of them because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation - nor can I fire them for not contributing to a political campaign - and *none* of my employees are in a union. Throwing this out as a justification for tenure either demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of tenure or is a willful attempt to defend the indefensible.

I typically enjoy Ravitch's analysis - the above is quite disappointing.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

For a story that you can use to argue pro or anti union, read this:
Prince George's schools sued for discrimination
"A group of current and former Prince George's County school employees has filed a lawsuit against the school system, alleging that a principal engaged in systematic discrimination against white teachers and the African American teachers and staffers who came to their defense."
.......
"The lawsuit also names the Prince George's teachers union. The staff members allege that the union employee in charge of defending them against discrimination, Jimalatice Thomas-Gilbert, refused to give several of them the forms to file grievances. They also say she was attempting to recruit the principal to join a home-based direct-selling network that would have benefited Thomas-Gilbert financially."


http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/23/AR2010112306934.html

Posted by: edlharris | November 30, 2010 6:45 AM | Report abuse

Ravitch states: 'I think American children need not only testing in basic skills, but an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, economics, and physical education.'

Tell me *anyone* who disagrees. Tell me a single person arguing against an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences et al.
------------------------------------------
Principals all across the United States will disagree come February. That's when schools start "gearing up" for standardized testing with pep rallies, "incentive" programs to get kids to try on a test that has no meaning to them, and a narrowing of the curriculum.

Many schools pull their kids out of, or cancel classes involving the arts or any other non-tested subject and place them into test prep classes that drill test taking strategies for the 6 weeks or so prior to the test.

If nothing else, this certainly lets the kids know what the school values and what it doesn't.

Posted by: Wyrm1 | November 30, 2010 6:50 AM | Report abuse

'Principals all across the United States will disagree come February. That's when schools start "gearing up" for standardized testing with pep rallies, "incentive" programs to get kids to try on a test that has no meaning to them, and a narrowing of the curriculum.'

No, they won't disagree.

If you want to continue the strawman, then let's go the other direction.

Ravitch and many teachers are against teaching students basic skills. They don't believe students need to learn the basics of reading and math, and are opposed to any and all efforts to increase the basic skills of students.

That is just as accurate (and nonsensical) as the argument that Gates and others are against a comprehensive education.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

There's a reading -- not the obvious one -- of both R and G that suggests they could be in "violent agreement" on fundamental points, especially ed. goals. Yes, they differ on the "how," but neither has persuasive and compelling back-up for her/his views. Ravitch, as an historian, should know that the traditionalists have delivered the sorry state of today's schools.

The so-called reformers whom she smears casually have only been working the problem with actual implementation for the last 5-7 years. Decades of damage by "educators, educrats, and errant ed professors" can't be undone in a few years. And we would be ill advised to let the negligent and incompetent "experts" who brought us today's mess guide us out of it.

Posted by: axolotl | November 30, 2010 7:46 AM | Report abuse

Reformers have no credibility since they would never push their phony reforms on their own children or their children’s teachers.

How about collecting test data and personal information on the reformers’ children to store in a bogus database without value?

How about hiring temporary employees with low levels of education to teach the reformers’ children?

How about using the funds saved by hiring on the cheap to create new markets in remedial scripted in-the-box reading and math curriculum kits with matching reading and math tests for the reformers’ children? Then pay the low skilled recruits for teaching to the tests and for raising test scores.

How about closing private and parochial schools for the purpose of creating private for-profit on-line charter schools?

It’s good news that the reformers are fearful of pushback and backlash from voters.

Thank you Dr. Ravitch for speaking the truth and shining the light on the corporate agenda owned by the reformers for the purpose of undercutting American public education to profit on the poor and middle class while protecting the aristocracy.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | November 30, 2010 8:29 AM | Report abuse

I think power has gone to Gates head. He wants to control everything and always have his own way.

I wonder when he ever learn that he doesn't always have the answers? Or if he will ever learn?

Posted by: jlp19 | November 30, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Jonathan Alter really hates teachers and wants to destroy them.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 30, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

God bless Prof. Ravitch. For those of us who labor in those 'dropout' factories by choice day in and day out, year in and year out, it's encouraging to have Ms. Ravitch countering Gates, Alter et al. while we're busy attempting to change the trajectory of these kids' lives.

Posted by: kidswarrior | November 30, 2010 9:01 AM | Report abuse

axolotl,

You think that "educators, educrats, and errant ed professors" have ruined US education? Take a look around you. The top 1% are raking in windfalls while the bottom 90% is struggling to stay above water. This inequality is reflected in our schools. It's not all about economics and yes our schools do need to change, but adopting the business model is not good for anyone except businesses. TFA is a business. Microsoft is a business. Businesses have always been interested in school reform and it's not always because of their benevolence, e.g. Carnegie, et. al. More-and-more it's beginning to look like businesses are using "reform" as a foot in the public school door so they can exploit one of the only viable revenue streams left in the US: education. For example, "News Corp., After Hiring Klein, Buys Technology Partner in a City Schools Project." Schools are not businesses. Keep the profiteers out of education.

Posted by: stevendphoto | November 30, 2010 9:08 AM | Report abuse

FYIColumbiaMD,

I love it when people throw the gauntlet down for me.

You wrote, "Tell me *anyone* who disagrees. Tell me a single person arguing against an education that includes the arts, literature, the sciences et al."

I suggest that you talk to some middle school teachers or some high school teachers to find out why some students do not have history, science, music, or any elective because they are double-blocked in a math or Language Arts class. I understand why they are doing it, but you obviously do not even *know* that they *are* doing it. Here is their argument so you can keep up with the rest of us: They believe that if a kid can't read or perform basic math computations, then they won't understand history or science anyway, and they have no "need" for arts or electives.

(Let me clear some of the dust off my hands now.)

And technically, Ravitch answered most of Gates's lame questions explicitly (except the union one). Here's a sample just in case you missed it:

Gates: Does she like the status quo?
Ravitch: No, I certainly do not like the status quo.

Notice how he asked a direct question and she responded with a direct answer. I am sorry, but that is NOT a straw man argument. Once someone answers a direct question, she has a right to change the subject or go in a related line of reasoning without it being a straw man.
__________________________________________

Sarah,

5-7 years? Traditionalists? You should get out more. You lame-butt labeling looks a little jaundiced to me.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 30, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

As I continue to read the exchanges between Diane Ravitch and Bill Gates, the comments on this article, and others, I feel we are losing sight of the task at hand: How can we best meet the educational needs of our children so that they become the thinkers, innovators, creators, leaders of tomorrow? Reform is not a four-letter word, but should be viewed as an opportunity to begin anew. The field of education is not like any other. We continually have new beginnings; each quarter, each semester, each school year. So why does it take us so long to see what what we have in place now in public education must improve? Why do we continue to focus on content-based curriculum? How do we better prepare our students? Answer: Through a standards-based approach that uses the Common Core State Standards as the vehicle to drive instruction. Through the development of common formative assessments that measure specific skills learned. Through a rich content curriculum that is meaningful and links to the standards. Through instructional practices that are research-based and proven to work. Through teacher-teams working together to create units of study that focus on specific skills for students to master. Through the continued offerings of the arts, music, and languages. Reform should come within each school. Who is up for the challenge? We need influencers and edupreneurs in the trenches to prepare our students for their future.

Posted by: core4all | November 30, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

FYIColombiaMD:

Of course nobody will SAY that they are not for a well-rounded comprehensive education, but the policies of NCLB and RttT are causing DEFACTO cuts in arts, civics, foreign language and other "non-tested" subject areas. Test preparation and the testing itself chews up inordinate amounts of time. Where the classes may still exist, they end up getting their time taken away regularly. Students also get the message that these studies are "expendable" because they are not tested and thus exert less effort to learning them well.

The second way that actions speak louder than lip service is that testing, scoring and data input services take money. The money for these largely unfunded mandates has to come from somewhere. When cuts are made, they are, in fact, despite what you'd like to think,made by cutting foreign language programs, arts programs and staff cuts which make larger class sizes for other non-tested subjects.

Again, of course nobody will SAY they are against a well rounded academic program, but the obsession with standardized testing and the costs involved have funneled tax monies away from students and into the pockets of a few testing companies. This has led to program cuts that have narrowed the scope of the education our students are receiving.

Posted by: buckbuck11 | November 30, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

I wonder how much money Jonathan Alters makes and how much he gets in raises each year. I also wonder how much time he volunteers to helping underpriviledged kids.

Posted by: educationlover54 | November 30, 2010 10:14 AM | Report abuse

Ravitch is right, Gates is wrong. And those who think American education is broken are wrong, and so are those who think that Ravitch et al (I think I'm the et in et al) do not believe in helping children develop basic skills.

1. Poverty is the issue. Students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools score near the top on international tests. Our mediocre average scores are because we have such a high percentage of children living in poverty compared to other industrialized countries. This shows that poverty is indeed the factor. (Yes, I am aware of our "low" math scores in a recent analysis. We were beaten by two clear outliers, Korea and Taiwan) and countries with small populations, including Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. We were also beaten by Hong Kong, not a country. And those high scorers did not do nearly as well on tests of science and reading.
2. Basic skills: the approaches we endorse consistently produce excellent results in the basic skills, better than skill-based approaches. I will be happy to post sources, references, citations from the professional literature.
3. The answer is, as Ravitch says, dealing with poverty, i.e. protecting all children from the effects of poverty. This means nutrition (I was happy to see Arne Duncan giving strong support to this recently), better health care (e.g. more school nurses) and far more access to books – classroom libraries, school libraries, and public libraries in areas of high poverty. Wide reading is the major source of the vocabulary and knowledge that children of poverty often lack, and current studies strongly suggest that providing a source of books can make up for the negative effect of poverty on reading proficiency.

Geoffrey Canada, in his autobiography Fist, Stick, Gun, Knife, informs us that outside of school voluntary reading contributed substantially to his school success: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."


Posted by: skrashen | November 30, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Ravitch is right, Gates is wrong. And those who think American education is broken are wrong, and so are those who think that Ravitch et al (I think I'm the et in et al) do not believe in helping children develop basic skills.

1. Poverty is the issue. Students from middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools score near the top on international tests. Our mediocre average scores are because we have such a high percentage of children living in poverty compared to other industrialized countries. This shows that poverty is indeed the factor. (Yes, I am aware of our "low" math scores in a recent analysis. We were beaten by two clear outliers, Korea and Taiwan) and countries with small populations, including Lichtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands. We were also beaten by Hong Kong, not a country. And those high scorers did not do nearly as well on tests of science and reading.
2. Basic skills: the approaches we endorse consistently produce excellent results in the basic skills, better than skill-based approaches. I will be happy to post sources, references, citations from the professional literature.
3. The answer is, as Ravitch says, dealing with poverty, i.e. protecting all children from the effects of poverty. This means nutrition (I was happy to see Arne Duncan giving strong support to this recently), better health care (e.g. more school nurses) and far more access to books – classroom libraries, school libraries, and public libraries in areas of high poverty. Wide reading is the major source of the vocabulary and knowledge that children of poverty often lack, and current studies strongly suggest that providing a source of books can make up for the negative effect of poverty on reading proficiency.

Geoffrey Canada, in his autobiography Fist, Stick, Gun, Knife, informs us that outside of school voluntary reading contributed substantially to his school success: "I loved reading, and my mother, who read voraciously too, allowed me to have her novels after she finished them. My strong reading background allowed me to have an easier time of it in most of my classes."


Posted by: skrashen | November 30, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

DHume1 'I love it when people throw the gauntlet down for me. '

I have no doubt that both Ravitch and Gates strongly believe that kids should learn the basics.

I have no doubt that both Ravitch and Gates believe a comprehensive education is important.

They differ on the strategies they believe are most effective in achieving these goals and requirements - they don't differ on the requirements themselves.

It's akin to the Republicans or Democrats arguing that the other party doesn't value national security or some such because they disagree on a policy - it is a purely strawman argument.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Maybe I am just more cynical that Ms. Ravitch and others, but I think there's a bigger picture that is being missed.

Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, and the others who are pushing "reform" have realized that largely because of people like them, there are few manufacturing jobs (the source of social mobility for the poor and middle class) left in the U.S. They are not interested in educating the disadvantaged because they know that soon there will be no middle class. There will be corporate America (billionaires) and the service industry (people who sweep their floors and work at places like Wal-Mart). They need only few educated and lots of uneducated to keep their industries growing. They want "choice", competition, privatization, and deregulation in education because these are the same philosophies that made them filthy rich.

Gates even eluded to this reality with his comments in WfS in regards to this reform being about keeping the U.S. economically competitive. Traditionally, the health of the economy is determined by the viability of corporate America, not by the proletariat and the possibilities for everyone via social services and a well-rounded education. I think a lot of people do not realize this because the reform initiatives are being pushed by philanthropists and so-called progressives like Obama.

These people are fully aware that they are narrowing down the curriculum because they have no use for artists and musicians. They have no desire to instill critical thinking and life skills into students via the humanities, arts, shop classes, and home economics because these are the people who really question the status quo. Why else would they continue to push standardized testing and other initiatives that are not research-based, are top-down, and are just plain counter-intuitive?

They are in control of our education policy and as indicated by Joel Klein's new position at NewsCorp (Rupert Murdoch), the fact that his successor is also a media mogul, the movies like WfS, and the recent article in NewsWeek, they also control the media and are trying with some success, to shape public opinion.

Of course, nobody can point these things out without being called a Marxist, conspiracy theorist. However, let's not assume that any of these corporate hawks have the best interests of everybody in mind. After all, they are promoting the same ideas in education (competition, deregulation, and a false sense of choice) that created our health care and foreclosure crises.

Posted by: Critical74 | November 30, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Ravitch proclaims that "The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence."

Did she miss the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Teachers have grounds to sue if fired because of race, religion, and in many states, sexual orientation. She'd better come up with a better reason.

She's right about management signing on to those lopsided contracts, though. We saw those bloated contracts in the auto industry, too, and look what happened there. Be careful what you wish for.

Posted by: trace1 | November 30, 2010 11:32 AM | Report abuse

FYIColumbiaMD, Everyone might be entitled to due process which--in theory--will protect them from being fired for some frivolous reason; but in reality what teacher makes enough money to hire a lawyer on their own to secure those rights when they are violated?

Posted by: MathEdReseacher | November 30, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Evidently FYIColumbiaMD just learned the term "strawman."

If you've been paying attention, and based on your comments, you haven't, Gates has always spent his "charitable" education funding in ways that foster his political agenda. (Of course he's used to acting illegally and getting away with it.) His funding goes exclusively to the latest fad that undercuts any real chance for educational improvement by people who know what they're talking about. we have a model for high-quality urban education. Richmond Public Schools have equaled (and in some cases, exceeded) SOL pass rates of Fairfax County, one of the richest jurisdictions in America. They've done it without the gimmicks Gates is always throwing his money at: No TFA's; No Charters; no phony reformers. They did it with attention to educational research and experience in making wise choices about curriculum, the whole curriculum. The school improvements were teacher-driven and encouraged by 2 Superintendents (not chancellors or CEO’s) with decades are education and earned PhD's. Educators know what works. Gates doesn't. If he wants to help, he could start by paying more taxes.

Posted by: mcstowy | November 30, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Evidently FYIColumbiaMD just learned the term "strawman."

If you've been paying attention, and based on your comments, you haven't, Gates has always spent his "charitable" education funding in ways that foster his political agenda. (Of course he's used to acting illegally and getting away with it.) His funding goes exclusively to the latest fad that undercuts any real chance for educational improvement by people who know what they're talking about. we have a model for high-quality urban education. Richmond Public Schools have equaled (and in some cases, exceeded) SOL pass rates of Fairfax County, one of the richest jurisdictions in America. They've done it without the gimmicks Gates is always throwing his money at: No TFA's; No Charters; no phony reformers. They did it with attention to educational research and experience in making wise choices about curriculum, the whole curriculum. The school improvements were teacher-driven and encouraged by 2 Superintendents (not chancellors or CEO’s) with decades are education and earned PhD's. Educators know what works. Gates doesn't. If he wants to help, he could start by paying more taxes.

Posted by: mcstowy | November 30, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Alder’s article inadvertently uncovers more evidence about how the reformers/edupreneurs hold students and teachers hostage in for-profit testing schemes across America.

Alder on Gates - “Today, he’s too enamored of handheld devices for tracking student performance. They could end up as just another expensive, high-tech gimmick.”

http://www.newsweek.com/2010/11/28/alter-education-is-top-priority-for-gates.html#

Alder could spend time and energy investigating all the no-bid multi-million dollar state and local contracts pushed by Wireless Generation (now 90% owned by Murdoch) and signed by the reformers to purchase these gimmicky handheld devices and student licenses for tracking progress and collecting “data.” Then find out how the students’ “data” and personal information are collected, USED and stored in the for-profit edupreneurs’ databases. Are the edupreneurs collecting data and personal information on their own children?

Alder could begin by reading the $2,800,000.00 no-bid contract with Wireless Generation signed by Arne Duncan, July 2008 available on the internet at this link:

http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/The_Board_of_Education/Documents/BoardActions/2008_07/08-0723-PR16.pdf

Investigative journalists worth their salt would use the Freedom of Information Act to request all of Wireless Generation’s contracts in the urban districts like Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York City, Newark, and Chicago.

There’s a for-profit purchasing pattern mixed with testing propaganda used by the pseudo-reformers also known as edupreneurs.

Posted by: nfsbrrpkk | November 30, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

'FYIColumbiaMD, Everyone might be entitled to due process which--in theory--will protect them from being fired for some frivolous reason; but in reality what teacher makes enough money to hire a lawyer on their own to secure those rights when they are violated?'

If the above argument supports tenure, then every McDonald's employee should also receive tenure...

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 1:28 PM | Report abuse

'Educators know what works. Gates doesn't. '

Yes, IBM said much the same thing about the relative value of hardware versus software for the personal computer...

The current educational model is due for a disruptive change (personally, I think along the lines Clayton Christensen described in 'Disrupting Class') - arguments for maintaining the status quo but with more money aren't likely to hold the day.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

DHume1's/David's intellectual loins are stirred by figurative stimulants of mindless and factless opinions of his mentors, belying his high expertise in education and leading to a flaccid, limp result. You need to study up, madame David.

Posted by: axolotl | November 30, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

stevendphoto -- good and plausible point, but we'd be ill advised to bar anyone from education at this point.

The people who brought us failure on a national scale are the education experts, of whom a few, such as David DH, appear on these blogues. Sure, there are few good ones, and there are more than a few from other arenas, including business, who have the management skill to make a difference. The subject matter "expertise" and "domain" know-how can be bought. It is a drug on the market. Professors, ed "researchers," union know-it-alls (like Rando) can be signed up at any time, often at reasonable prices.
And don't worry about the profit motive in education. Right now, we have the union/teachers uber alles crowd, jobs-for-life minions, and many others guided by something other than getting children educated. People who know how to earn a profit usually know how to please customers. The people in charge of public education in most cities today demonstrably do not.

Posted by: axolotl | November 30, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

mcstowy,

I had that same thought myself about FYIColumbiaMD. It was a perfect example that went flying right over that dude's head. Thanks for the laugh.
___________________________________________

Sarah,

I just love it when you call me an education expert. Every time you say it, it reminds me of how easy it is to become one. I basically didn't do anything to become one, yet here I am with the brand name.

To demonstrate how insipid your position is, I will now call "you" an education expert. Let's see it in action: Sarah,aka axolotl, an education expert supposedly living in the DC area, is one of the reasons why education sucks right now. Yep, it works. Notice how it is just as empty as your hollow words about me.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 30, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Ravitch proclaims that "The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence."

Did she miss the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Teachers have grounds to sue if fired because of race, religion, and in many states, sexual orientation. She'd better come up with a better reason.

WHAT! If a principal fires a teacher to make way for a friend, or because the teacher made a political contribution to someone the principal doesn't support - the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn't protect them.

Trace - you make so many errors in your information.

Posted by: jlp19 | November 30, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Valerie, I don't know what the over 5,000 members I represent would do without your daily articles. Thank you for the role you and Dr. Ravich play in encouraging educators who work in public schools.

Posted by: lacy4 | November 30, 2010 2:49 PM | Report abuse

FYI C0lumbia MD writes:
"Ravitch and many teachers are against teaching students basic skills. They don't believe students need to learn the basics of reading and math, and are opposed to any and all efforts to increase the basic skills of students.
That is just as accurate (and nonsensical) as the argument that Gates and others are against a comprehensive education."
Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 7:28 AM | Report abuse

Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Howard County Public Schools are some of the best in the USA. Can you please be more specific by identifying the schools?

Posted by: lacy4 | November 30, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

lacy4 'Do you have any idea what you are talking about? Howard County Public Schools are some of the best in the USA. Can you please be more specific by identifying the schools?'

Sorry - my point was that it was nonsensical to suggest that Gates doesn't care about comprehensive education in the same way it is nonsensical to suggest that Ravitch doesn't support teaching basic skills.

And I agree completely on the high quality of HCPSS - my three children attend public schools in Howard County and I have been universally impressed with the overwhelming majority of the teachers I have had the pleasure of meeting.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I would be surprised if Gates didn't know already the high teacher turnover rate after 5 years.
His ideas are not all bad, but having one person, no matter how rich and successful they are, decide educational policy is foolish.
He is an expert in computers, not education.
Maybe he can give me gardening advice, also. Maybe he can help "reform" agricultural policy.

Posted by: ubblybubbly | November 30, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

never claimed to be an ed. expert, but I agree with your assertion that: we all are. you, of course, are in a special category of an extraordinary ed. expert.

so step up and take yo share of the blame, but the trough will not be available to you or your organization much longer. you have done enough damage.

Posted by: axolotl | November 30, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

If Gates and all the 'reformers' want KIPP-like results, then give me a KIPP-like school. Quit being ignorant, stupid, or both when you bring up KIPP results. Give me their discipline and their ability to require parental involvement.

Posted by: peonteacher | November 30, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Sarah,

Yes, I think you and your ilk have done enough damage, too. Serious damage.

Geez, you are dense to continue the childish "you are ... no, you are" polemic. I guess I will need to be the grown up here: I belong to a dying organization. My organization is the ALA.

By the way, you would make a terrible detective. Really terrible--I mean, you truly suck at it. Really. And if you are so wrong about me, it "might" be just possible that you are so wrong about others things as well. You so easily jump to faulty conclusions. You frequently make incorrect assumptions.

And I promise, Sarah, I will take my share of the blame. Whatever that is, I guess.

Posted by: DHume1 | November 30, 2010 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Thank God Gates addressed Ravitch head on in a very public way! He hasn't a "leg to stand on" but arrogantly and smugly is so completely divorced from reality that he has made Newsweek his messenger! He has met much more than his match and she will finally expose the nonsense he is propogated on a national level. Newsweek owes it to the nation to have a full length article on Ravitch. But will Newsweek do so? Oprah owes it to the nation to have her on her show. But will she? Ravitch should be in every major newspaper as Gate's and his "education" cronies have been. But will the national newspapers regularly interview her? Will Michael Moore finally do some intelligent investigation on this all-important subject and expose the fallacy of "Waiting for Superman" with his own film that would attract movie-goers across the nation? I hope so but am still "waiting for supermoore"!!!!! As Ravitch comments, POVERTY is an all-problematic issue often underlying problems at school. English language learners coming from impoverished backgrounds, and special education students have an uphill battle at school and standardized testing and teacher bashing do not help these students or any other students for that matter. This nation needs to question why megamillionaires have such clout as to "determine" national policy on matters they know not! Counter-acting this is essential to maintaining the checks and balances we hold dear in our democracy!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: teachermd | November 30, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Critical 74 is a blogger whose commentary deserves not to be missed! Do read it:

Critical 74 bloggers commentary:

Maybe I am just more cynical that Ms. Ravitch and others, but I think there's a bigger picture that is being missed.

Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Waltons, and the others who are pushing "reform" have realized that largely because of people like them, there are few manufacturing jobs (the source of social mobility for the poor and middle class) left in the U.S. They are not interested in educating the disadvantaged because they know that soon there will be no middle class. There will be corporate America (billionaires) and the service industry (people who sweep their floors and work at places like Wal-Mart). They need only few educated and lots of uneducated to keep their industries growing. They want "choice", competition, privatization, and deregulation in education because these are the same philosophies that made them filthy rich.

Gates even eluded to this reality with his comments in WfS in regards to this reform being about keeping the U.S. economically competitive. Traditionally, the health of the economy is determined by the viability of corporate America, not by the proletariat and the possibilities for everyone via social services and a well-rounded education. I think a lot of people do not realize this because the reform initiatives are being pushed by philanthropists and so-called progressives like Obama.

These people are fully aware that they are narrowing down the curriculum because they have no use for artists and musicians. They have no desire to instill critical thinking and life skills into students via the humanities, arts, shop classes, and home economics because these are the people who really question the status quo. Why else would they continue to push standardized testing and other initiatives that are not research-based, are top-down, and are just plain counter-intuitive?

They are in control of our education policy and as indicated by Joel Klein's new position at NewsCorp (Rupert Murdoch), the fact that his successor is also a media mogul, the movies like WfS, and the recent article in NewsWeek, they also control the media and are trying with some success, to shape public opinion.

Of course, nobody can point these things out without being called a Marxist, conspiracy theorist. However, let's not assume that any of these corporate hawks have the best interests of everybody in mind. After all, they are promoting the same ideas in education (competition, deregulation, and a false sense of choice) that created our health care and foreclosure crises.

Posted by: Critical74 | November 30, 2010 11:19 AM

Posted by: teachermd | November 30, 2010 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Gates' five questions are pitched at about a third grade query level. Ravitch knocks them out of the park, but doesn't offer any better questions in return.

Questions for Ravitch.

How can you make such a compelling case against standardized tests and ignore the complicity of "Standards"--which spawn the tests?

What ideas do you have for eliminating poverty?

What do we do in the meantime?

Questions for Gates:

Why do you overlook the fact that the "Standards and Standardized Tests Movement" that began in the late 1980s has failed at every step: Goals 2000; NCLB; and now with the Ed Stimulus initiatives?

Why do you disregard the warning of the National Academy of Sciences that none of the tenets of the "Race to the Top" have any scientific/technical foundation?

Does any corporate enterprise evaluate their employees at least partially on the basis bubble-marked tests?

Posted by: DickSchutz | November 30, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Tsk, David DHume1, you seem to be such a sensitive critic. If you are at 1615 New Hamp. Ave., I am no more than a block away. We should do coffee sometime because I have become such an admirer of your wit and analytical powers, in addition to your deep domain knowledge of education.

Posted by: axolotl | November 30, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Bill Gates has been overcharging school districts for years with his 'bug' infested software. He is such a hypocrite!

Posted by: maz135 | November 30, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

DHume1, I'd advised staying away from axolotl.
On these blog(ue)s Sarah has come up with some perverse ideals about people and their job responsibilities.
She doesn't come up with any constructive ideals. The ones she presents are taken from the likes of efavorite and edharris.
So, you have been advised.

Posted by: phillipmarlowe | November 30, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

"Sorry - my point was that it was nonsensical to suggest that Gates doesn't care about comprehensive education in the same way it is nonsensical to suggest that Ravitch doesn't support teaching basic skills.

And I agree completely on the high quality of HCPSS - my three children attend public schools in Howard County and I have been universally impressed with the overwhelming majority of the teachers I have had the pleasure of meeting."

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | November 30, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks so much for your kind remarks about HCPSS, FYIColumbiaMD. Our teachers are feeling more and more debased by the likes of Bill Gates and Arne Duncan. Did you know that Nancy Grasmick is trying impose even more tests on the already over tested children in Howard County?

Posted by: lacy41 | November 30, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Hear Hear!!!! I was HOPING that Ravitch would come out swinging against that bizarre NEWSWEEK piece of tripe that extolled virtue upon the rich but inexorably stupid Gates and his accusations and assumptions and support for privatization of public education in America. And Ravitch is right, neither Gates NOR Alter seem to know much about history, or the proper use of analogues.... so much so that it makes one wonder if either of them passed their S.A.T.'s....

Posted by: bbbbmer1 | November 30, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

lacY41,
Dr. Nancy wants the kids from PreK to 12th grade to take tests in all subjects.
The main purpose of the tests will be to provide data that will account for 50% of a teacher's evaluation.
So, you can expect a 2nd grader to take a library test, a counseling test, an art test etc so the school system can collect data to evaluate the library media specialist, the counselor, the art teacher.

Posted by: edlharris | December 1, 2010 12:18 AM | Report abuse

'The main purpose of the tests will be to provide data that will account for 50% of a teacher's evaluation.'

While I agree that some of the proposals for teacher evaluations are problematic, I think the current mechanism that effectively disassociates performance from pay is equally perverse.

As in all professions, some teachers perform better than other teachers. Moreover, some teachers have specific skills (e.g., hard to fill positions) that make them more valuable to the district. The districts should have a mechanism (just as every private employer as well as most government employers) that links pay to performance (as opposed to the current mechanism that links pay to seniority).

Even a structure akin to the federal GS system with grades and steps would be preferable to the existing system.

Absent that basic, fundamental reform, we should expect anyone with substantive private industry experience to view the teacher evaluation system as it currently exists as being broken.

Posted by: FYIColumbiaMD | December 1, 2010 6:25 AM | Report abuse

It does not compute that sociologist, lawyers, politicians and billionares including college drop outs with no real classroom teaching experience can assume that their ideas and money can legislate and buy a quality public education that is adequate and equitable for all schools and students using a narrow, unproven assessment system that is suppose to measure students, but used to evaluate teachers under names like "Race to the Top" with highly restrictive, inflexible criteria not backed by "Scientific Evidence of What Works". More persons with the creditials of Ravitch need to speak up and provide their research to these decision-makers so they can be easily found in the search engines, blogs, etc. used by decision-makers, educators, parents and students alike so we can make inform decisions for our kids, not decisions based on self-promotion, fancy themes and ideas not proven to work, used to identify root causes and conditions and/or adequately and equitably provide real instruction and instructional resources to all children including those who are very successful, but incapable of being successful when taking these assessments.

Posted by: arteerick | December 1, 2010 7:02 AM | Report abuse

jlp19 -
Should we blame your teacher or parents for your poor reading comprehension skills? In my post, I was very specific -- and accurate -- about what Title VII covers.

Posted by: trace1 | December 1, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Well, kudos to Mr. Gates for a set of propaganda loaded (yet hollow!) questions. Give me a break!

Posted by: Tizzy79 | December 1, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

@FYIColumbiaMD--As a resident of Howard Co. whose two children attended county schools, I share your sentiment about the teachers there. However, I can't help but wonder if one took those very effective HCPSS teachers and placed them in schools in the worst parts of Baltimore City or Washington DC, if they would continue to be just as effective as they are in their suburban schools. I saw that kind of change in my Montgomery Co. school about 18 years ago when our boundaries were changed. Our predominantly white middle class school all of a sudden became a very diverse title I school. A large number of the staff transferred out the following year because they couldn't handle the stress and increased workload. My school is now 92% minority, largely non English speaking and 65% FARMS. Everyone on our staff works incredibly hard. The irony is that in order to boost test scores to meet AYP, we must focus on the tests above all else. Sadly, this type of instruction is not the most effective with disadvantaged student populations and English Language Learners when one is trying to affect genuine learning. Students need hands on, authentic assessments which can be done as a regular part of instruction. Standardized testing, while necessary to a certain extent, does not equal teaching or learning. If one is spending the bulk of their time implementing tests, then they are spending very little of their time teaching.

The idea that the state wants to implement standardized tests in all subjects is very troubling to me, a music teacher. I see classes once a week and my time will have to be spent preparing students for written standardized tests rather than teaching them to be musically literate which includes skills like sight singing, reading music, playing instruments from written music, composing etc. Those are skills which take careful instruction and practice. There will be no time for that. My students will learn ABOUT music, but they won't learn to be musically literate.

About teacher evaluation: Montgomery County has a comprehensive Peer Review evaluation system that has been researched nationally. Recently Arne Duncan and Gov. O'Malley were visiting one of our high schools. One of our local teachers' assoc. officers mentioned to Mr. Duncan that RTTT would force us to abandon our evaluation, which has been carefully researched, in favor of one that research shows to be less effective. We would move from a system that helps struggling teachers and offers targeted staff development to one that is merely punitive. Duncan acknowledged that the law wasn't meant to be so inflexible, but unfortunately, this is what he has done. I suspect there may end up being some court battles over this. So be it. We shouldn't have to give up reforms that work for those that don't.

To read more about the PAR evaluation system go here: http://www.gse.harvard.edu/~ngt/par/

Posted by: musiclady | December 1, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

musiclady,

I also like the PAR system for evaluating teachers (thank you for the link). I have often thought that this type of system was the best way to do it, but I didn't know that it was already being done.

Posted by: DHume1 | December 1, 2010 1:53 PM | Report abuse

PAR might be better than some systems, but it's got a ways to go.

http://improvingmcps.blogspot.com/search/label/Peer%20Assistance%20and%20Review

Posted by: mmccabe4724 | December 1, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

In all seriousness, I see a lot of Gates' efforts at education reform as a way for him to try to create a school that HE would have stayed in and been happy. I'm sure he would love to punish all of the teachers HE found boring and irrelevant. He's trying to build a school where little Bill Gates would be happy and praised all the time.

Posted by: HistTeach1 | December 1, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

If Gates were really interested in expanding America's competitiveness (rather than ensuring corporate control of education especially for Black and brown children much like corporate control of the prisons), He would be advocating for academic rigor and serious support for low income children and families rather than trying to cast Prof Ravitch as anything other than a concerned educator,
Educational 'reformers' like Gates, Broad, would never accept their lackluster recipes of educational 'teaching to the test' for their own children. I've seen it done excessively here in DC to children. The enduring hypocrisy (an rabid attacks on Ravitch of late) shows how corporate/media is working to manage the public perception of (the real lack of) educational improvement for all students and especially for students of color. Ravitsch analysis shows that we've stagnated-no growth for 10 years yet reformers want us to continue with the same agenda. Ravitch is exposing the lie and that is why she is so disliked. Go Diane Go. Thanks for continuing to remove the veil from people who expect the rest of us to continually to buy their hype although they have nothing to show for their previous experiments in education reform. How would a teacher be evaluated if his or her efforts hadn't advanced students performance at all. Would he or she be allowed to continually define the national conversation? I think not! Unless the teacher were a billionaire and bought influence. Sad really sad.

Posted by: rastajan | December 1, 2010 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Uh trace - you obviously did not read my post well. Go back and read the whole thing and then respond.

You responded to something I didn't say.

Posted by: jlp19 | December 1, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Here's my post again (by the way, should we blame the teachers or the parents for the reason you responded to another issue other than the one I posted - the fact that you responded to something other than what I said shows your problem with reading comprehension).

Ravitch proclaims that "The reason for due process rights is that teachers in the past have been fired because of their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, or because they did not make a political contribution to the right campaign, or for some other reason not related to their competence."

Did she miss the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Teachers have grounds to sue if fired because of race, religion, and in many states, sexual orientation. She'd better come up with a better reason.

WHAT! If a principal fires a teacher to make way for a friend, or because the teacher made a political contribution to someone the principal doesn't support - the Civil Rights Act of 1964 doesn't protect them.

Trace - you make so many errors in your information.

Posted by: jlp19 | December 1, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

In all seriousness, I see a lot of Gates' efforts at education reform as a way for him to try to create a school that HE would have stayed in and been happy. I'm sure he would love to punish all of the teachers HE found boring and irrelevant. He's trying to build a school where little Bill Gates would be happy and praised all the time.

Posted by: HistTeach1 | December 1, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

mmccabe4724,

Thanks for the link. I am not as familiar with the PAR system as you are, but I did notice some errors in your reasoning: false dichotomies, possible post hoc errors and a limiting of possibilities.

Just because I noticed this, it doesn't mean that you are not right in your analysis; it just means that there are other possibilities that have not been considered in the logical hermetical systems that you created.


Posted by: DHume1 | December 1, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

mccabe4754--I would agree that PAR needs improvement. Unfortunately many of the improvements that would help are costly. I would like to see all teachers observed by master teachers in their content areas among other things. I don't see that happening any time soon in MCPS given the current budget constraints.

Posted by: musiclady | December 1, 2010 7:15 PM | Report abuse

@critical74, I liked your comment so much I posted it to my blog, the Coalition for Kid-Friendly Schools.

http://kidfriendlyschools.blogspot.com/

Posted by: FedUpMom1 | December 2, 2010 9:57 PM | Report abuse

Music Lady, what if we subtracted an administrator from building and instead replaced them with master teachers who conducted observations. Let's let administrators administrate, and let teachers be in charge of policing their own.

Posted by: mmccabe4724 | December 3, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

THanks, Dhume. The game theory was just for fun- but I appreciate your feedback... and if I ever go back to it I'll try and make it better.

Posted by: mmccabe4724 | December 3, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Too much money goes to these guys heads. They need to stay in their lane.

Posted by: crewoldt | December 3, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

This is leading up to a "David vs. Goliath" moment in the fight for what is best for improving our abysmal public education system...billionaires and political appointees do not necessarily know what is best in spite of what the mainstream media might profess...kudos to Valerie for providing a channel for Diane's voice...

http://mathequality.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ravitch-1-gates-and-duncan-0/

Posted by: dreid64 | December 4, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

UNEDUCATED NAME-CALLING

Diane Ravitch rightly questions [" Ravitch answers Gates" Answer Sheet, Nov. 30] why Jonathan Alter calls her "the Whittaker Chambers of school reform" in his recent article [" A Case of Senioritis" Newsweek, Nov. 28]. How does her "intellectual heft to the National Education Association’s campaign" resemble anything about anyone from the Hiss Case?
Whittaker Chambers (my grandfather) wrote only one article relevant to Mr. Alter's piece. In "Foot in the Door" (National Review - Jun. 20, 1959), he expresses concern with our "slackness about learning." He champions the idea of raising the general level of education. He cites a breakthrough of that time: TV classes at GWU. "We shall have little choice but to raise the level [of education]…" Future scale of education requires "solutions in something approaching googol terms."

Clearly, Whittaker Chambers would have supported Bill Gates and President Obama in Mr. Alter's article (which Dr. Ravitch does not discuss in her reply).

Neither convinces readers on one thing: why should anyone care what a Hiss Case figure says about education?

Meantime, will Washington ever grow up enough to stop name-calling a la Hiss Case? Or, if compelled (out of habit or custom) to do so, please do so in -- a more educated manner.

David Chambers | http://www.whittakerchambers.org/

Posted by: davidchambers2 | December 4, 2010 8:57 PM | Report abuse

This dispute/disagreement/argument exemplifies a major problem in our society. Two sides, unable/unwilling to cede a single point to the other.

Each makes valid points. Each, in my opinion, is "right." On certain points.

Finding common ground and working from there is what solves problems. Not intransigence.

From a book on negotiating I once read: "Just because you win doesn't mean he as to lose." (or she)

Posted by: xhel10708 | December 7, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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