The Educator's PLN

The personal learning network for educators

The Diane Ravitch Live Conversation: The Death and Life of the Great American School System

On Tuesday, October 19, at 4pm EDT/ 1pm PST (Convert To Your Local Time Here), members of the EDU PLN Ning and participants of #Edchat joined Diane Ravitch in a live conversation about education transformation. Diane Ravitch agreed to take questions from members of the Ning. Tom Whitby, Shelly Terrell, and Kyle Pace moderated the 1 hour Elluminate session. 

(Image from

In case you missed the discussion:

Watch the edited 45min video,
Watch the live recording,
Read the transcript from Twitter,
Read the Elluminate Chat,

More about Diane:

Diane Ravitch, who recently wrote the article in The Daily Beast, Education Crisis: Testing and Firing Teachers Doesn’t Work, is a Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. In addition, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

She shares a blog called Bridging Differences with Deborah Meier, hosted by Education Week. Her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines.

From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. She was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education. As Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards.

From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers on Education Policy. Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

She is the author of:
  • The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010)
  • Edspeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (2007)
  • The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003)
  • Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000)
  • National Standards in American Education: A Citizen’s Guide (1995)
  • What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? (with Chester Finn, Jr.) [1987]
  • The Schools We Deserve (1985)
  • The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945–1980 (1983)
  • The Revisionists Revised (1978)
  • The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805–1973 (1974) 
You can follow her on Twitter,

These real-time events are delivered using Elluminate complete with audio, chat and desktop sharing.

Elluminate is a Community Partner with Edublogs. To learn more about Elluminate check out either:

  1. Their recorded introduction
  2. The Quick Reference guide
  3. Join the Configuration Room to test your connection and configure your audio

Get your FREE 3-user Elluminate vRoom HERE!

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Here is my question: I'd like to start with three assumptions. 1) public education is not going to get significantly more money per student than it is getting now. 2) teachers should be earning a livable wage, commensurate with the other professionals. 3) students have to learn more than ever before, and be equipped to continue to learn after they leave K12. To me, this means that we have to be able to accelerate student learning with fewer adult educators. So, my question is, have you seen and can you describe successful models for teaching students with 40 or even 50 students per adult?
Great question! :-)

I love where your questions are going, and I'll be eager to hear how Diane responds to them. But if you'd allow a small quibble: I don't think students have to learn more than ever before. Rather, students must learn how to learn for life (which arguably may be a bigger challenge) as information becomes more available and grows exponentially. For example, we should probably decide to shift from trying to learn everything in the ever-expanding fields of U.S. History, Biology, IT, etc. and focus instead on producing great thinkers who understand the essential fundamental habits of minds of those fields and can act as historians and scientists for life. Does that make sense? You get where I'm going: if we keep requiring students to learn more 'stuff', we'll be faced with ever decreasing outcomes.

You're right. Thanks.

I should say, IMHO, you're right. :-)
Will this be archived? I will be teaching at 2:00PM MST.
Yes, the conversation will be archived and posted soon after the event is over.
My question is: As we move to national standards, will teachers actually be allowed to teach to those standards? In California, we've had state standards for more than a decade, but we are being held to teaching to the programs (ie: Open Court) instead of the standards, even when we know that the program and standards are not in alignment.
Katje Lehrman, @katjewave (on Twitter), Los Angeles.
Question: What concrete steps outside of our schools can we take to move Ed Reform in the right direction? Who are our allies in Congress, the media, academia?
Yes! Good question. How do we move in the right direction!
Had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Diane Ravitch last week. She brings a unique perspective from all sides of the current accountability movement. Definitely thought provoking.
Patrick Larkin (@bhsprincipal) Burlington,MA - What role do you seeing social media playing in school reform? Aside from the obvious opportunity to better communicate with all stakeholders, how do you think schools should be utilizing these resources to better engage students in classrooms?
Morgan Kolis (@Room5Friends), Brecksville, OHIO-

What role do you see Special Education playing in public school reform?

With the available vouchers and scholarships, many students with special needs (specifically autism spectrum disorders) are attending private or charter schools who have no legal accountability for the child's services or progress. Public schools must adhere to State and Federal Mandates. Is public or private "better?"

Further, do you see Inclusion, mainstreaming, or self-contained classrooms as the "norm" and/or "future" of special education across the country?




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