A multiple-choice answer to improving the schools
By Jeff Epton
So Diane Ravitch, often celebrated as an education reformer, and an early proponent of standardized national tests, has turned against testing and against public charter schools [“An about-face on school reform, chapter and verse,” news story, Feb. 26].
But the fundamental problem with standards is the lockstep judgments relying exclusively on test results imposed by the No Child Left Behind Act, which Ravitch also championed. There should be no problem with national standards and testing if they are among many tools, along with in-class master-educator evaluations of teachers and longer-term assessments of student progress, used to judge schools.
As a product of public schools (not the best product, to be sure), and as a parent who sent two children through public schools, I think quality universal public education is about as important as clean water and clean air. My third child now attends E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in the District. The school is a minor miracle, and my son is thriving there.
I find it hard to believe that charter schools are an obstacle to improving all public schools; more likely the hope for widespread improvement in public education lies in a combination of factors, including the best practices of charters such as Haynes and the diligent efforts of systems such as D.C. Public Schools to undo the institutionalized bad habits of decades of federal and state financial neglect and indifference.
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