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Ron Radosh

Ravitch was a registered Democrat, albeit a centrist one in the tradition of the late Henry “Scoop” Jackson. As Stern documents, after leaving the Bush administration Ravitch became involved in a debate over the issues with the democratic socialist educator Deborah Meier, and soon she decided Meier was right and she had been wrong all along. As Stern puts it:

Not only had Ravitch changed her mind about school choice and testing; she had closed her mind to the possibility of any successful reforms, including national standards, curriculum, and classroom instruction. And anyone who persisted in supporting such “de-forms,” she maintained, must either be a reactionary or (like [Secretary of Education Arnie] Duncan, presumably) a dupe of the reactionary corporate-reform movement.

Now, Diane Ravitch presides over a blog that Stern calls “a propaganda hub for the national anti-corporate reform coalition.” It has, he writes, “all the subtlety of an Occupy Wall Street poster.” His analogy is apt as Stern goes on to point out that among her most ardent comrades in the movement she leads are … Bill Ayers and the once-Maoist 1960s leader Mike Klonsky, who had formed his own so-called “Revolutionary Communist Party” that pledged fealty to Mao-tse Tung during the Cultural Revolution.

Ravitch does not favor the “Common Core” standards.  She also is opposed to the kind of programs advocated by E.D. Hirsch, who advocates the need for “cultural literacy.” Hirsch believes that students need to develop background knowledge systematically, and favors a detailed sequence of grade-by-grade topics, so that they develop specific content systematically over the years. He believes that with such a program, all students, especially the poor, would benefit and have a leg up in being able to advance by learning what is essential in order to move on in the future and progress to reading and learning more on the same level of middle-class students.  With such knowledge, Hirsch argues, students would have the key to being ready for college. Now Ravitch opposes such measures. She asks:

[Why do its advocates] think that adoption of the Common Core standards or the privatization of public schools will heal the deep economic and social problems caused by the outsourcing of our manufacturing base and deep income inequality?

Once she believed that students should learn about the “great deeds of significant men and women,” and also “study distant civilizations.” Now she has abandoned that as a reactionary endeavor, one that forces “academic learning” onto young minds who should roam free and enjoy themselves. This, Stern says, is “educational romanticism” that the poor cannot afford, since if their children are to advance, they need to learn specific things without which they will be stuck on the bottom rung forever.

Some honest liberals did not agree with her new stance. New York Times columnist and former Executive Editor Bill Keller, a bona fide left/liberal since the 1960s, endorsed the Common Core idea in a column. Ravitch saw this as a betrayal. She responded not by criticizing Keller’s arguments, but by endorsing and posting a rant on her website from a far leftist educator, who wrote that Keller had endorsed the invasion of Iraq and that his father was chief executive of the Chevron Corporation. Stern rightfully calls this “the classic ad-hominem style of radical-left political discourse.”

So it is hardly surprising that Ayers and Klonsky, along with Deborah Meier, are now her close comrades in the anti-corporate educational reform movement. As we know, Ayers and Klonsky both favor using education as a mechanism to create socialist activists in the future. Remember Ayers’ appearance in the early years of the late Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, where he stood beside the totalitarian destroyer of that country and endorsed his educational program as one that should be adopted in the United States?

In three short years, Ravitch moved from an educator who firmly believed that students needed a knowledge-rich curriculum to one who does not even mention once the Core Curriculum she once supported, and who believes it is a “hoax” perpetrated by the privatizers on the American people. Now she favors, as Stern points out, “the same prohibitively expensive, pie-in-the-sky programs that the education Left has advocated for decades: smaller class sizes, universal prekindergarten, after-school programs, and comprehensive health and nutrition services.”

As with most leftists, the costs are immaterial. The money supposedly exists for the taking, although Stern notes what she favors would cost many billions. Ravitch does not ask where the money would come from. If one speculates, her answer would more than likely be from the defense budget, the one answer always presented by the Left for where the money can be found.

How, one wonders, would Ravitch respond to his critique? The answer came today, when on her Twitter feed she wrote the following:

Urban Ed ‏@nycUrbanEd15h

This is filled falsehoods and an obvious personal grudge against .@DianeRavitch Stern lies throughout this piece. http://www.city-journal.org/2013/23_4_diane-ravitch.html …

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5:10 PM – 2 Oct 13 · Details

2.    Diane Ravitch ‏@DianeRavitch2h

@nycUrbanEd Sad. Sol was a friend but paid by rightwing belief tank to attack me. I ignore mudslinging, take a shower.

So this is it. A noted educator responds in the usual leftist ad hominem style, claiming that Stern’s critique is a lie and comes from “an obvious personal grudge,” and she adds the old canard that he was “paid” to do it by a “rightwing belief tank.” With that reply, it is clear she cannot deal with anyone who criticizes her methodology and arguments. Instead, she subscribes to the Bill Ayers-Mike Klonsky style of retort, one used all the time in the totalitarian movements of which they are a part.

Read Stern’s devastating critique of Ravitch. Kudos for being the first to effectively challenge Diane Ravitch’s shining-star status as America’s best educator.

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Top Rated Comments   
“Poverty,” she says bluntly, “is the most important factor contributing to low academic achievement.”

She's correct. CULTURAL poverty is...
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Poverty, she says bluntly, 'is the most important factor contributing to low academic achievement.'"

If this is true how does one explain such luminaries like Thomas Sowell, Walter E Williams, Condoleeza Rice, John Boehner who comes from a family of thirteen or so, and all those illegal DREAMers?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Instead of looking at rich versus poor, I bet if you looked at two-parent homes versus single parent homes you would see a greater correlation with academic success. But no liberal wants to acknowledge that because maybe it reveals that conservative, traditional, Judeo-Christian values are...uhhh...right? No no, let's just call it "poverty"- people are victims of this "poverty" and not responsible for their own kids' failure.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (22)
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Much as I appreciate and agree with Sol Stern's vision (vision, that is, not current implementation) for traditional education, his piece on Ravitch was both inappropriate and dishonest. And I say this with regret, but the second charge is serious.

The inappropriate part was the personal tone of the attack. It had no place in City Journal, and frankly I and many others are sick of the spectacle of a small core of academicians feeling they are behaving objectively by dint of their title as they engage in mudslinging with others (I am not denying that the mud goes all ways -- I'm asking that you all depersonalize). Tenure is no excuse for excusing yourself from standards you demand of others. The same is true here. Stop whinging about twitters, for God's sake. You are not the subject.

Stern's article was dishonest in two ways. First, he refused to engage in legitimate criticisms of the Common Core regime he is promoting. Instead, he built a strawman out of Ravitch and then conflated all criticism of Common Core with Ravitch and her current allies, including radical educational activists like Bill Ayers.

That he did this under the guise of criticizing Ravitch's demonization of others is appalling -- sophisticated character assassination is not an honorable tool to use against coarse character assassination.

Stern was also dishonest -- or at best he is being willfully blind -- about the realpolitick guiding the implementation of Common Core. While it may be true that he feels empowered by his status in New York City to guide that city to an unique version of CC that actually involves his and ED Hirsh's standards, he cannot possibly be naive enough to presume that the DOE is planning such educational reform for the rest of the country.

Stern's misrepresentation of and dismissal of the politics of Common Core are now too extreme to ignore. In City Journal, he asserts that he and other proponents of Common Core are using CC to undo the radicalization of pedagogy and educational administration promoted by Klonsky, Ayers, now-Ravich, and their ideological peers. Yet he fails to address how this will take place through the act of transferring power from the states to a highly radicalized Department of Education run by the very same people who were radical educational "reformers" alongside Ayers in Chicago -- Arne Duncan, Barack Obama, and Linda Darling-Hammond.

This power transfer is the real issue, as is the other power-transfer taking place -- the transfer of control of our education to unelected, unaccountable non-profits and kingmakers like Bill Gates. Stern needs to address this. However, given a forum to to do, he turned that forum into an attack on one convenient target and said curiously little about Common Core in the act of "defending" it. That was, in itself, questionable.

And now Radosh has done the same, refusing to address the real subject in favor of a rehashing of grudges and claims about charter-versus-public schools that is secondary to the subject at hand.

Respect your audience enough to start having a real conversation about Common Core, rather than a proxy battle of egos at the top.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tina,

For one who has her hackles up as much as you do about the lack of any "real conversation about Common Core," I looked in vain through your long post for any single substantive point about the CC and found absolutely none. You make no substantive comment about the content of the Common Core standards and recommendations. You say nothing about its underlying assumptions about the relationship of literacy skills learning to content learning. You do not even deal with the substantive criticisms E.D. Hirsch has made of the development of assessments for Common Core, which are a good example of the responsible criticisms of the project you imply are needed. Hirsch offers these criticisms, by the way, as a supporter of Common Core, but one open to what you seem to say you want to see.

Instead, however, you resort to little more than guilt by association accusations -- Ayres, Arne Duncan, Barack Obama and Linda Darling-Hammond, being your choice of demons. Glen Beck might agree with your choices. Diane Ravitch's demons, however, appear to be Bill Gates, Jeb Bush, Sam Walton, conservative think-tank proponents of the Core like Chester Finn, and, in general, evil corporate "privatizers" at the opposite end of the political spectrum for the most part from your and Beck's list of evil-doers. It is the wonder of the times that a conspiracy so vast can even arrange a meeting, let alone at midnight in an undisclosed location as surely must be the case. How DO they do it?

In any case, if you want to elevate the tone and see some substance in the discussion of Common Core, next time leave off the personal attacks and guilt by association insinuations and provide some substance of your own. Perhaps you could start with one small example I am familiar with -- the CC Anchor standards and the correlated History/Social Science variants on them for grades 6-12. Tell me, please, why these constitute a danger to the republic. To me, they just seem like good sense, though only as a very vague starting point, and one that will require state action, not federal, to ensure they ever have any sort of good effect or any impact at all. Just one example of what substance in the discussion might mean. Boring, perhaps? But there you are.

And that example is offered here also to make this last point. This notion that CC is some vast and powerful engine of destruction of local school control is utterly laughable. CC depends on concerted and understanding action on the state and local level without which it will founder and disintegrate into ineffectiveness like all other top down education reforms have. The paranoid notion that CC is more than a match for the educational system's absorptive capacities is laughable. The exact opposite is the case. It is its weakness, not its power, that ought to be of concern.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
One more thing, Jon -- you forgot to mention that you or someone with your name owns a company promoting the very sort of programming you recommend above. How about acknowledging that in your comment?

How much are you making off Common Core implementation? Or, how much are you trying to make or stand to make? And why didn't you disclose that when you chose to go off on me?

Every time someone starts defending common core, they seem to have their finger firmly in the pie.

Like Darling-Hammond, for instance. I did not mention her out of some random desire to character-assassinate. She made gobs of cash drafting the DOE assessments, and she is a radical pedagogist and close colleague of Ayers, who is a terrorist and fellow school radicalizer.

But you know that, right? Because you are involved in this industry too. So why not do a little more disclosure instead of trolling the threads making false accusations while hiding your financial interests?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
You really are digging yourself in deeper here, you know. No response at all yet again either in this reply or the even more intemperate one below to any single substantive issue regarding Common Core.

As to my "company," you've got to be kidding. I am a freelance curriculum developer. My "company" is ME, period. I did develop a line of materials called MindSparks when I worked for a company called Highsmith, and it is now owned by another group for whom I am proud to do work. MindSparks began in 1995, and it has consistently produced very high quality materials that, until THIS YEAR, had nothing to do with Common Core at all. It is of course none of your business how much I am "making off of Common Core." All I will say is I only wish I were making even a tenth of what it would take to buttress your view that I am riding some gravy train. I am thoroughly proud of the work I do, on Common Core related materials and all the rest. I would not be able to do the work on Common Core if I did not share its vision to a great degree (it is the very nature of the work itself that makes that so, actually, not any purity of my soul). I am also proud of the clients who have hired me and have supported my endeavors and see nothing in them deserving of the contempt you display. I will put my work up against any history materials out there you know if and be happy to bet you that any group of teachers you assemble would judge them to be at the top of that list. Your insinuations here might be insulting if they were not so laughable.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, to summarize, you're making money off Common Core.

You should say that up front when you defend it.

And, please, give the drama a rest. It's fine to make money. It's necessary to disclose it in order to ethically debate an issue.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
After offering you this information, I immediately regretted doing it. Despite the obvious fact, which I made clear, that my work has been almost entirely unrelated to Common Core, I was pretty sure you'd make as much hay as you could over what is related to it. You have done exactly that. I disagree one hundred percent with your claim that "it's necessary" for me to disclose anything about my sources of income to debate ethically here. Neither you nor anyone else here has been asked to do this, nor should ever be asked to do it. The logical fallacy of "appeal to motive" is one kids are taught in schools as a form of ad hominem attack to avoid. That's exactly how you have abused it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_motive

I'd say it's a "drama" of your making, Tina, and I for one am done playing my part in it.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Jon, I had enough of pretend-arguing with you over your obsessive claims that Judith Clark deserved to be treated with tea and sympathy after killing cops. You go on threads and demand endless engagement while feigning debate and mischaracterizing other people's arguments.

Throwing names around is not arguing; your anger at Glenn Beck is not reasoned debate, and it is not my job to answer your silly demands for "substantiation." Find someone else to harrangue.

Plus, Jeb Bush is an ass making fistfulls of cash promoting CC. I think everyone pulling a paycheck consulting etc. on it while voicing opinions should be transparent about that.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
One correction (someone below makes some reference to this also, I think). Core Knowledge is a curriculum based on E. D. Hirsch's work and his view that we need a common curriculum stressing a core of shared content knowledge. This is not the same as the Common Core Standards, which actually stress literacy and math skills. Hirsch is a backer of Common Core also, seeing the great potential in its more complex concept of literacy. However, he has also been critical (rightly, in my view) of the assessments being developed for it. He sees these as undercutting the need to foster and further develop core content learning sufficiently.

In other words, he is a moderate backer of Common Core. I am reasonably sure he understands the absurdity of both the hard left and hard right paranoia about the movement. What is so dismaying about Diane Ravitch is that her own skepticism about Common Core (as well as about school choice) has morphed into a paranoid and angry stand against some corporate conspiracy to abolish the schools. Many of the comments right here mirror this same mentality, which is now sickeningly dominant at both ends of the spectrum and spreading out from them all too rapidly.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
John, You are correct. E. D. Hirsch e-mailed me and I changed the paragraph about his thoughts to coincide with his wishes, and to make an accurate description of what he believes. Read the new version which is different from what I originally posted.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Poverty,” she says bluntly, “is the most important factor contributing to low academic achievement.”

She's correct. CULTURAL poverty is...
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sol Stern's article is good for the context it provides with regard to Ms. Ravitch's career and the influence of collectivism on public school policy. But Mr. Stern shows himself to be a collectivist when he acknowledges that the Common Core standards and their universal implementation are a good thing. Indeed it appears to me that his main reason for writing his critique of Ms. Ravitch is that she has withdrawn her former support for those standards.

This strikes me as yet another issue where we have vocal debate from two sides, both of which are collectivist. They are merely arguing about how their desired flavor of collectivism is to be implemented.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
HELP! I'm trapped under a bridge in a forest in Norway with - oh, God, help me! - a mean little troll who's speaking leftwingese disguised under a conservative veneer he hopes will help him pass as one of us. He isn't. I can spot one a mile away.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Poverty, she says bluntly, 'is the most important factor contributing to low academic achievement.'"

If this is true how does one explain such luminaries like Thomas Sowell, Walter E Williams, Condoleeza Rice, John Boehner who comes from a family of thirteen or so, and all those illegal DREAMers?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
And Ben Carson, native of Detroit, who's someone that all of us should look up to and emulate.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
More than likely if Ravitch were to "take a shower" the drain would be circled with the golden proceeds with which she has been rewarded for her ideological switch. Money talks, as the saying goes, but on the left it's a whisper meant to hide the ugly truth that the proper ideology is nothing but a lucrative commodity. One cannot be too cynical when dealing with these monsters of the left.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Rhee is pro-corporate, a woman who wants “to introduce private competition (in police, military, and postal services, for example) where government was once the only provider.”"

'pro-corporate' suggests some Education Inc. little different from what we have. 'non-government' should do.

"...Ravitch became involved in a debate over the issues with the democratic socialist educator Deborah Meier, and soon she decided Meier was right and she had been wrong all along."

Just like that, eh? As with Schumer converting Gillibrand, this may be but a change from pose to position.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Is the E.D. Hirsch Core Knowledge curriculum really the same as Common Core? I'm familiar with the Core Knowledge books outlining basic knowledge for elementary students, and consider them to be very good and very traditional.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Diane Ravitch's book The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn is a must read, IMO. My first exposure to Diane. Just last week I heard her discussing her new book on NPR. What a shame.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Instead of looking at rich versus poor, I bet if you looked at two-parent homes versus single parent homes you would see a greater correlation with academic success. But no liberal wants to acknowledge that because maybe it reveals that conservative, traditional, Judeo-Christian values are...uhhh...right? No no, let's just call it "poverty"- people are victims of this "poverty" and not responsible for their own kids' failure.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and don't forget the leftists' favorite, and only, cure for poverty - government. More government.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
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