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Alter Ravitch Altercation


Interesting days indeed

Diane Ravitch calls them "an interesting few days." Indeed they were. They began on the last day of May with her NYT op-ed piece which nailed the corporate school reformers for their politically-driven, data-fudging "turnaround" myth-making.

Then came the pitiful response from Arne Duncan via embedded Bloomberg journalist Jonathan Alter, which basically amounted to a paragraph or two of personal invective aimed at Diane.

 "She’s the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s."

 "Diane Ravitch is in denial and she is insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country who are proving her wrong every day." (Fawning Alter quoting "mild-mannered" education secretary Duncan).

And my favorite: "She now uses phony empiricism."

 This, the day after she  received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan award from the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences for promoting "the use of informed judgment to advance the public good" through "sound analysis and social science research in policy-making, while contributing to the civility of public discourse and pursuing a bipartisan approach to society's most pressing problems."

Ravitch and Alter then had a debate of sorts on David Sirota's Denver radio show. I say "of sorts" because Diane was like the veteran educator confronting an embarrassed school kid who hadn't done his homework. Progressive moderator Sirota had a tough time restraining himself from joining in on Alter's spanking.

Actually Alter has done a service, not only to Duncan (whose communications team obviously feeds Alter his lines) and to corporate reformers (Bloomberg), but to us as well. As Anthony Cody put it, in his Edweek blog, Alter "kicked the hornets' nest."


To top things off, Duncan had to pull his over-sized yet overworked PR team at the DOE off of the Ravitch case to do damage control on the Stockton raid story.  I'd like to think I had a little something to do with that after spending my morning yesterday tracking down why NBC News10 pulled its interview with Kenneth Wright. Wright became the victim after Arne's DOE army, assault weapons in hand, and armed also with a DOE search warrant, broke down Wright's door at 6 a.m. and terrorized Wright and his small children for hours. No sooner had I posted the story than the station pulled it (under pressure from the feds???). After my phone calls to the station, I received this missive from News10's Roy Kennedy:

First of all, thanks for contacting us.  The interview with Mr. Wright will be posted soon.  The original package had some old information that needs to be updated.  In the meantime his interview will be put up on the site in the next hour or so. Call or email me if you have questions.
Roy Kennedy News10


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Mike Klonsky

Mike Klonsky is an educator, writer, school reform activist, and director of the Small Schools Workshop ( ...