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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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I have a couple questions...

1) Our world is moving toward a model of collaborative learning environments and our kids are better at this than ever. How can we move the school system in the same direction? Instead of competition between states (RTTT), school districts (NCLB), teachers (merit pay), and charter vs. public schools, how can we start collaborating to truly pool our talents, knowledge, and resources?

2) How can we substantively include teacher and STUDENT voices in federal education policy, instead of as puppets and figureheads?

3) Do you have any updated information on the status of what is being called "Assessment 2.0?" This is such a critical component- the next generation of assessments and how they should be formative and authentic. How can we keep tabs of this process and keep our government accountable for actually getting it right?

Steve Johnson
Concord, NC
Has she apologized for pushing for NCLB, and does she believe public schools can "reprogram" young people? That is, what can public schools do when so many young people come from broken homes and broken communities? @peoplegogy
The standards often advocated by reformers in Washington call simply for more focus on core academic subjects that most people won't ever use in their lives (do you use calculus, the periodic table, or the wisdom of Beowulf in your life?!). Setting aside future scholars, students leave 12 or more years of formal education with a good deal of wasted time and effort learning 'stuff' they'll never use, while, shockingly, most don't know how to be full participants in their political communities and in the economy. By keeping students in disciplines designed by interested experts, we are wasting the opportunity to use 12 years to engage students in society doing modern real-world tasks and solving modern real-world problems that require the integrated (interdisciplinary) knowledge from a variety of modern fields. Here's my questions Diane, first, do you agree with my assessment above, and second, if so, do you have any hope that we can move toward a more modern conception of education? How?



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