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Terrific “New Yorker” Profile Of Diane Ravitch — & The Struggle For The Soul Of Education


The “New Yorker” just published a terrific profile of Diane Ravitch that also chronicles the struggle for what I would call the “soul” of our schools. It’s called Public Defender: Diane Ravitch takes on a movement and it’s written by David Denby.

Unfortunately, most of it is behind a paywall (which is a reason why The New Yorker is one of the few magazines I subscribe to…), and the only way you can read the whole thing is to subscribe.

I’d describe the article as one of the best, if not the best, article on education policy published this year.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

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


  1. I’m now most of the way through this article and am as frustrated as ever with her. I know that she’s making amends and that she’s always fought for what she feels can make schools better, but I can’t get over the lack of vision in the Bush-era policies. She continues to point out – in hindsight – all of the things that my colleagues and I spoke about in the schools at the time. We knew about the things like the “Texas miracle” and the fallacy of the 100% expectations and spent too much time screaming for help. I’m glad that she’s come around, but I don’t understand why people are now fawning over her as a speaker and a visionary. If anything, she’s living proof that knowing stuff (she’s obviously well educated and knowledgeable) is not the same as being able to think. I’ll try to write and/or tweet more tomorrow after finishing the article.

  2. I have to respectfully disagree with David Hochheiser: I am very happy that Diane Ravitch had the courage and the integrity to acknowledge her own poor judgment and incorrect policy choices in the past.

    It takes a lot of soul searching and candor to disavow a major part of your life’s work, and risk your entire career and professional standing by doing so.

    But one of the reasons Ravitch carries such authority and influence is BECAUSE of her public rejection of what she once championed. People are more willing to focus, and pay attention, when they learn that about her.

    Would you have rather she kept quiet and “went along”, like so many people do, fearful of being excluded, ostracized and denounced? (Which is exactly what happened to Ravitch, when she broke ranks and chose intellectual honestly over being “connected” with the wealthy and influential.)

    Ravitch is a living example of what I try to teach my children and their peers: Be brave. Have integrity. Choose what is true and real over what is simply popular at the moment. Do the right thing, even if it means rejection from the “inner circle” or “in crowd” and invitations to the best parties.

    I don’t understand why anyone would want to cling to a person’s past, over a decade later, particularly when they have publicly acknowledged that they were wrong.

    Those of us who oppose the sham called “Education Reform” have our most credible and fearless advocate in Diane Ravitch. And for that she deserves our praise and our heartfelt support.

  3. Thank you for responding, Jim. Please understand that I fully respect her willingness to admit her errors and work to correct them. I know that that takes a lot of guts. However, I also recognize that the article essentially paints her as having made a lot of decisions without fully working through the consequences. I would have expected her – as a historian – to speak of precedents and potential outcomes.

    My major issue, though, is with “us,” not her. If educators are looking for visionary leaders, I’m suggesting that we choose someone who has always looked forward and been able to see through the immediate moment’s fog. Certainly, there were myriad teacher/education leaders who have always been able to predict the pains of testing and the eventual privatization that it would bring. Let’s go with one of them. I don’t know why we’re looking to her vision if it’s failed us so badly in the past.

    I am willing to peg a person’s history to my faith in their capacity. I would imagine that a historian would do the same. She is an example of admitting her wrongs, but we need vision now, not just complaining, which is a lot of what I now read her do.

  4. You can pay a smaller price for access to this one issue, and I don’t see any reason not
    to shell out a few bucks to them

    Just google ravitch rewyorker and you will get an abstract and a chance to get this one issue a la carte

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