The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education - Diane Ravitch Actually giving one star to this combination of regret and restatement of the obvious is being generous. Ravitch basically spent her time in the 80s and early 90s promoting the testing and "choice" trends that now dominate a lot of the education establishment. She basically now had a change of heart and is going against most of what she actively promoted. This is a history of American education mostly looking at the end of the 20th century into today. If you have kept up with what has been going on, this book will not tell you anything new. In my case, all I have to do is look at my daughter's school and their constant obsession with standardized testing and how they pretty much teach to the test to see the results of Ravitch and her ilk: a major stifling of creativity and independent thinking, students who graduate mostly with one skill--the ability to fill bubbles on a multiple choice sheet, and who are barely knowledgeable of basic skills or the information and knowledge they need to be good, informed civic-minded active citizens. Her conclusions are not that much better. Yes, we need major changes. Yes, we need a major exercise of collective will for the public good. Yes, we need stronger curricula, stronger instruction, better teachers (who are better paid as well, something Ravitch barely touches). Yes, we need to stop thinking of schools as businesses. These are things that others have said before, and they have said them much more eloquently. To me, as a former teacher and now librarian, this book seems like too little too late. The damage is already done, and it is going to take a lot of effort and will, things seriously lacking in a society that does not value education, and where anti-intellectualism is becoming the norm, to fix things. And there lies the tragedy, well, for the U.S. Meanwhile the rest of the world will continue to do better on skills tests overall than the U.S. given they have things like strong curricula, teachers and resources. These are things we could have and that we could do, but as a society we choose not to. Tragic indeed.