She makes two main suggestions:
First, we must end the pressure on teachers to teach to the test… Second, we must strengthen and improve our public schools.
I support both of these, but I just really don’t agree with the fundamental premise here. I realize that Moyers was asking various experts to write parts of the President’s speech on various subjects, with Ravitch taking education. Some Presidential sounding language I guess needs to be borrowed. She begins the hypothetical address with the following:
My fellow Americans, I have said in previous addresses on this occasion that the key to our future success is to make sure that the education we provide our young people is the best in the world. I have said that we must out-educate and out-innovate other nations.
Emphasis is mine. I think I’ve heard the President say this before. But if I were to write this speech, I would scrap that statement and its implication altogether. Call me naive, but I really don’t care if we out-do this or that over other nations. Perhaps there would be huge implications for this that I’m not quite understanding. Maybe the reader can enlighten me.
For progressives, and I’m not altogether convinced that Ravitch is one, is competitiveness a primary motive for improving our public school system? Let me clarify: economic competitiveness with other nations, is that a main driver? Should it be?
If economic competitiveness, the spirit of out-doing everyone else, is the main catalyst for improvement, then this becomes a national concern and therefore justifies continued Federal intervention in education. And not just any Federal intervention, some of which I think is necessary, but the heavy-handed one like we have now.