Diane Ravitch is a name forever intertwined with education. She is a historian of education, an education policy analyst, and a researcher at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development.
Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader magazine. In 1975, she earned a Ph.D. from Columbia University and became a historian of education. During that time, she worked with Teacher’s College president Lawrence A. Cremin, who became her mentor.
She was later chosen to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board by Secretary of Education Richard Riley. She was appointed to public office by Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Ravitch oversaw the National Assessment of Educational Progress from 1997 to 2004.
From 2007 to 2012, Ravitch debated with Steinhardt’s Deborah Meier on a blog called “Bridging Differences.” It was posted on the website of Education Week. She now writes her own blog.
Diane Ravitch is interesting to watch in that she has radically changed her views over the years. She once supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools. However, now she openly opposes them. Not one to leave you guessing why, she has written extensively on both topics. She wrote, “I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for.”
“In a national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools,” she said. “High-stakes testing, ‘utopian’ goals, ‘draconian’ penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn’t work,” she concluded. “The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers.”
Ravitch further claims that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by “right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation,” for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers’ unions.
She has written over 20 books and published more than 500 articles in scholarly journals. One of her most famous books, written in 2010, is called “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education.”
Diane Ravitch has also won numerous awards and honors for her writing and other achievements.