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I Think This AASA Speech By Diane Ravitch Is The Best Commentary On Education I’ve Read Or Heard


The American Association of School Administrators has published the text of a speech (and the video) Diane Ravitch gave at their conference last month, and I don’t think you’re going to read or hear a better commentary on education anywhere.

You can read the text of her speech here.

Here are links to the video of her speech, dividing into three parts:

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Thanks to the great organization, Learning First, for the tip.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Fantastic read. I wish we could implement her ideas and drop “reform” right away.

  2. She makes some good points here and there, but she is often incredibly misleading or inaccurate.

    Some examples:

    1. She says Arizona spends less than $6,000 per pupil. Actually Arizona (according to the Census) spends more than 25% more than she claims ($7,608). That was in 2007-08.

    2. She describes a Mathematica study of charter schools as follows:

    “Mathematica Policy Research conducted a study comparing charter middle schools with lotteries to regular public middle schools and found that there was no difference either in terms of academics or behavior.”

    No AVERAGE difference, yes, but the real finding was quite a bit different. What Mathematica actually found was this:

    “charter schools serving more low income or low achieving students had statistically significant positive effects on math test scores, while charter schools serving more advantaged students—those with higher income and prior achievement—had significant negative effects on math test scores.”

    In other words, charter schools were doing very different things for different students — raising up low income and poor-scoring students while actually harming richer and higher-scoring students’ test scores. If someone is interested in helping disadvantaged students, Ravitch’s summary of the study is worthless.

    3. She says that there is a “research consensus” that vouchers don’t help students. There are a few findings that vouchers didn’t make a difference, but plenty of findings showing a benefit. Most recently, a study of DC found that voucher students had a 12 to 21 percentage point increase in high school graduation rates. That’s a huge difference. To claim a research “consensus” in the opposite direction is a lie.

    The National Assessment of
    Education Progress has tested charter students since 2003 and compared them to
    regular public students. In the assessments of 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009, there has
    never been an advantage for charter schools—not for Black students, not for Hispanic
    students, not for low-income students, and not for urban students, no difference.

  3. Sorry, I accidentally pasted in a bit more of her text about NAEP scores there at the end.

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