[Marxism] The anti-Rhee

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Aug 24 08:19:05 MDT 2011


Diane Ravitch, the Anti-Rhee Michelle Rhee went from DCPS to 
national crusader. Along the way, a 72-year old historian became 
her top critic

By Dana Goldstein • June 24, 2011

In the month of April, Diane Ravitch, the 72-year-old preeminent 
historian of American education, sent 1,747 tweets, an average of 
about 58 messages per day, many between the hours of 11 p.m. and 1 

On May 20 alone, Ravitch tweeted 99 times to her 13,000 followers. 
Linking to the news of a D.C. Public Schools investigation into 
test tampering under former chancellor Michelle Rhee, she asked: 
“How can teachers be evaluated by student test scores, when the 
scores are so often manipulated and inaccurate?” Throughout the 
day, she mused on the shortcomings of standardized tests, whose 
ubiquity in American schools she has compared—with characteristic 
hyperbole—to “the Chinese cultural revolution.”

“Life’s problems do not translate into four possible answer[s],” 
she tweeted. Minutes later, she added: “Just think: 12 years of 
picking the right answer, never taking a risk with a different 
approach to problems. Ugh.” And then: “Those who can’t teach, pass 
laws about how to evaluate teachers.”

Ravitch went on to note that President Obama, whose education 
policies she opposes, is given more time to prove himself—four 
years—than the average teacher, who usually gets two or three 
years to win tenure. By afternoon, she was on to scorning Wall 
Street types, writing that “teachers can do more [good] than many 
who collect millions for betting on stocks or hog bellies or gold.”

Ravitch was producing scholarly monographs well before anyone ever 
imagined microblogging. But like her books, Ravitch’s 
140-character missives are serious stuff. In the past year, 
they’ve become a major front in her war against what advocates 
call “school reform” and opponents like Ravitch sometimes label 
“school privatization.” In the process, the Brooklynite has become 
a relevant figure in Washington’s local debate: Somewhat 
improbably, this former education official from the first Bush 
administration has emerged as the most media-savvy progressive 
critic of the reform campaign embraced by everyone from Education 
Secretary Arne Duncan to billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates—a 
campaign that, in the public mind, is perhaps most associated with 


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