Ravitch Sparks Digital Debate

Thomas MacMillan PhotoThey didn’t settle the most burning questions facing America’s public schools. But New Haven teachers, students, parents, and policymakers talked about those questions at length with controversial author Diane Ravitch—and Independent readers joined in live, as part of an online conversation.

Some 200 people showed up at Cooperative Arts And Humanities High School to watch Ravitch discuss the ideas in her groundbreaking book “The Death and Life Of The Great American School System” with a dozen New Haveners at the front lines of school reform, WTNH morning anchor Chris Velardi led them in a moderated discussion. Meanwhile, a panel of journalists and elected officials conducted a live-blogged discussion of the panel as it unfolded—while readers joined in online. And audience members got a chance to line up to ask Ravitch questions of their own in a substance-packed 45-minute post-panel question-and-answer session.

Leap to the “Cover-It-Live” box below to read the whole discussion. And click on the video play button below that to watch the event.

The participants talked about tenure for teachers. The role of parents. How much to rely on test scores. How best to measure the success of schools, of teachers, of principals.

In age of media and political noise, it was all civil.

For the most part panelists and audience members spoke in support of teachers and in opposition to the emphassis on test scores placed by the No Child Left Behind law in judging schools. Ravitch, who helped design rules to use scores and other “accountability” measures to reform education as a former White House aide under the first President Bush, has changed her mind and become a critic of the current reform wave embraced by mainstream Republicans and Democrats alike. She has become a hero to teachers who call for more training and support for their profession instead; many of those teachers showed up to hear Ravitch Tuesday night.

Ravitch and panelist Henry Fernandez offered two differently nuanced views on the role of teacher unions, whom many advocates of change at a national level blame for posing obstacles to reform.

Fernandez said the evidence shows that unions don’t make a difference either way in educational outcomes. He noted that teacher unions are strong in one southern state, Alabama, and weak in neighboring Mississippi; yet the educational results in both states are weak.

Ravitch later responded that the places where students are performing best—Massachusetts, for instance; the nation of Finland—unions are the strongest. She said strong unions lobby government for more resources for the schools.

“Unions don’t make schools bad,” Ravitch said.

In the national debate, and in movies such as “Waiting for Superman,” some reformers argue that unions prevent bad teachers from being fired and block needed changes like longer school days. New Haven struck a nationally applauded contract with teachers last year that allows those kind of changes to be made in consultation with the rank and file.

Tuesday’s event was organized by the Independent and co-sponsored by WTNH and WNPR. The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven provided financial support. R.J. Julia Booksellers’ Just The Right Book provided copies of the book to panelists.

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posted by: JM McHale on November 30, 2010  8:17pm

To describe this evening’s dialog as, “One of the more formidable & productive forums to have been held (re this pressing topic of successful purveyance of education) in a generation.” would not be construed as being too strong of a sentiment.
Hopefully more such respectful & impact filled opportunities for positive change to follow.

posted by: Courtney on November 30, 2010  8:36pm

I am trying to view the video but there is nothing on the screen.  Is the discussion over?  If so, is there a way to watch it anyway?

[Ed: The discussion is over. Ravitch is answering audience questions now (8:39 p.m.), but WTNH is no longer filming. We’ll have video of the discussion up soon.]

posted by: Cory on November 30, 2010  9:01pm

Thanks for setting this up.  It’s great to hear and participate in a lively discussion about such critical issues.  I hope this is replicated nationally. Kudos.

posted by: anon on November 30, 2010  9:34pm

This was a great panel, and great to see the focus on social determinants of educational success.  Without us addressing poverty and social inequities, our students have no chance.

Addressing this is not rocket science. But our government leaders are acting solely in the interest of the top 2% of the population, and are therefore unwilling to implement measures such as expanded EITC, lower payroll taxes on working families, universal health coverage, universal preschool access, free mass transit, walkable neighborhoods.  They are unwilling to pay for them through new taxes on the wealthy individuals and corporations who now control the entire U.S. economy, and whose incomes increased by 500% over the past few years even as average families saw their incomes drop. 

This continues, and gets worse every year, even though we all know very well that each dollar invested in reducing poverty results in $10-20 in savings down the road. 

Simple problem, simple solutions. The discussion of educational “reform” is a waste of time compared to what is really needed to address these social issues.

posted by: RSmith on November 30, 2010  10:31pm

Henry’s an “education consultant” now???  His ability to opine on things he knows nothing about doesn’t cease to amaze me.  Since when did he become one of the central people in New Haven School Reform?

posted by: Pete on November 30, 2010  11:13pm

What’s funny throughout the thread is that Rick Green (Editorialist) not reporter from the Courant is being completely ignored. How about the Courant fires Rick Green for not reporting down the middle but for choosing sides. Basic reporting 101 is to report not comment and use opinion when reporting. ...

posted by: FairHavenRes on November 30, 2010  11:30pm

I agree, how is it that Henry is an education consultant? What’s in this for Henry?...
Poverty is the culprit here as well as the institutional racism that condemns whole families and generations to a vicious cycle of hopelessnesss.

Yes, it is good to involve the community in this discussion, just be ready if some of us don’t come to the same conclusions as the administration.

[Editor’s Note: We invited Henry because he has studied schools nationally for the Stupski organization, because he’s a public school parent, and because he’s a great public speaker.]

posted by: TFA alum on December 1, 2010  12:48am

Great discussion. Why wasn’t someone from TFA on the panel though? Given Diane’s views, and given the number of times TFA came up in the conversation, I wish someone from the organization (or a TFA teacher or alum) had been part of this. Also, as an alum of the program, I am disappointed to see that Diane’s comments and the bloggers comments about TFA’s role in reform were mostly about the corps members (who are in their first two years in TFA). The long-term impact of TFA is not so much in the 8000 corps members who are in their first two years of the program—it is in the 20,000 of us who are alumni of the corps, and who in the not very distant future will number 100,000. No, not all of us are still in the classroom. I am in New Haven for graduate school and am planning to return afterwards to the city where I taught, Houston, hopefully to do work in juvenile justice which is something I became really passionate about as a teacher and never would have considered, certainly not in Houston, if I had not been part of TFA. I see TFA alumni conributing in a major way to education reform in Houston, as principals and teachers in HISD, to charter school leaders (YES College Prep and KIPP were both founded by TFA alums), and HISD itself does a lot to facilitate the retention of the TFA corps members past the two years and into leadership opportunities in the district and city long term. I have heard a lot of negative things about TFA since arriving here in New Haven that have surprised me and that seem to be largely about the two year commitment problem of TFA corps members. I hope that the district is working with TFA here to think long term about the potential of TFA alumni to contribute to the reform efforts underway, both as teachers and in other positions over time. The reforms here and the discussions that are happening are very impressive, and in line with the same reasons a lot of people like me choose to join a movement like Teach for America in the first place, and I would bet that the TFA teachers and alumni from the New Haven program would say the same thing.

posted by: TFA alum on December 1, 2010  1:07am

p.s. right after submitting my post, I came across an article from yesterday that makes my point: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/151/corps-values.html?page=0,0

posted by: Lara on December 1, 2010  1:29am

Finally a conversation worth listening to.  I just ordered 3 of the authors books as she has been inside the educational system on many levels for many years and during a couple of presidencies.  I’m sure she has seen all the things that I couldn’t see from my vantage point, but I understood were going on from mine…a mother trying to raise my kids in a world that thinks it can educate my kids better than me.  I do believe that are children are not being taught concepts for a new age, but an old one (the information age).  I don’t see Diane Ravitch as controversial, but the current educational system is what is controversial…where we keep our kids on a course for destruction and poverty.  The country has changed, we are now becoming post-industrialist and we need to consider the ramifications of dumbing our kids down by educating them for jobs that do not foster creativity.  Daniel H. Pink believes we are going into a conceptual age and I believe his theory to be correct.  While we will always need to use the left side of our brain, we need to start understanding what the other right side can bring us…I believe Pink when he believes the right brain thinkers will rule the future and our schools are not adept at teaching right brain thinkers and in fact the schools are always cutting the programs that support the right brain thinkers.  While my kids are in the public school system, I do not find it an attractive place to be and I often supplement my kids with right brain material at home.  Having been a homeschooler, I understand that school bogs our kids down with too much homework and busy work…it does not support who are kids could be, but rather what the country thinks they should be.  I am so happy that wtnh and wnpr and The New Haven Independent put this event together.  I would like to see the discussion, not just read it on your site.  I would like to see more events like this going on and would like to attend them.  This is a really SMART debate and needs to happen.  Thanks!

posted by: Lara on December 1, 2010  3:05am

After reading the conversation above with Diane Ravitch and the other panelists, what is now known is that the issue is certainly complicated, with each issue just as important as the other.  I am a parent and a student and I am a leader.  One thing I have noticed in the school systems is that not one of these issues is solely to blame, but all of them are. As a parent I have been active with my kids in thier studies some years while others I have been burdened with work and unable to be so vigilant with their schooling, however, I do agree that parents need to work with their kids…I have seen bad parenting.  However, I have also seen and experienced bad teachers.  My daughter had 5-7 hours worth of homework every day in her 8th grade year and when I confronted the teacher about it, she thought it was just my daughter until I provided data that proved that 4 girls were having the same issue.  As for poverty, it matters…I also experienced poverty.  I don’t think I worried to much about it while at school, but I did not always have food and this made me tired while at school.  I think what poverty did was to increase my stress levels, which certainly affects a student.  As for the unions, or tenure or these protective measures for teachers, etc. they may or may not be necessary, but what I am finding is that it is the students who now lack sufficient support.  I am a college student who is stuck with a teacher who is teaching my class at NVCC and many students have complained about him for many reasons, but he is tenured and it is nearly impossible for the students to get a listening ear.  Another example, was when I worked with a lunch lady, who ran the kitchen at my kids school.  My kids always told me how this lady screams at the kids, but I thought my kids were crazy until I worked there on a shift.  I was in front of her when she yelled so loud it made me jump so high and the girls she yelled at looked so frightened, but at the same time they appeared to be used to it.  I spoke to my superior, who is her superior about it and let’s just say that nothing was done…she is still there and of course I never got called back to work in the cafeteria.  I have so many stories and my kids are 14 and 16…they haven’t even gotten to college yet and I have just as many concerns in that department as well.  I can go on and on, but I do think that it would be interesting for someone to go through the script and point out all the issues discussed and then one can see that while things were a bit discombobulated and not much figured out…what the forum did provide was ALL the issues that need to be addressed in order to structure a better system for students.  Also, Waterbury school system has some interesting data on Assets and how many students in 6th grade and 9th grade have…roughly 20 out of 40 and this number decreases from 6th to 9th grade.  I’m sure your conversation in the forum was hard to follow, but I detect the patterns that need to be there in order to really facilitate real change.  Once again thanks!

posted by: Leslie Blatteau on December 1, 2010  6:18am

Henry Fernandez was one of the best panelists up there.  He clearly read Ravitch’s book and was the first and one of the few to reference it at all.  And as the editor’s note states, he represented himself as a parent in the NHPS system.  He wants schools to be better, especially for African-American and Latino children.  He’s clearly intelligent and concerned.  In fact, he should take a pay cut and become a teacher in a New Haven high school (he doesn’t have to save for his kids’ college tuition anymore; Promise has that covered.)  And after all is said and done, kids need intelligent, hard-working and caring teachers.  He fits the bill.

posted by: Ravith Disciple on December 1, 2010  7:23am

Other than there being far too many people on the Panel I thought this was terrific and am thankful that it was rightfully held in New Haven.  Thanks to Paul, NPR and the other sponsors.

While the largess of the Panel eliminated any real debate on the critical issues those who listened closely and care deeply about these issues could clearly see the fault lines of the basic arguments.

The good news is that there appear to be enough people on Dr. Mayo’s team, including the Union, that get it and are legitimately working towards effective change.

The underlying issues of poverty are real and need to be addressed more proactively by the politicos as opposed to blaming students who are coming to school already behind and are faced with many obstacles on a daily basis to ever hope to catch up even in the best of circumstances and with the best of intentions.  This does not mean that the poor need handouts left and right but that the core issues effecting their right to succeed be reviewed and counteracted creatively and effectively.

I agree with the other posters about Henry.  Truly amazing that he changes careers and titles as needed.  Thankfully his fan club of Paul Bass and John DeStefano is always there to boost him back up.  If every student in New Haven had such support there would be no achievement gap, just a lot more “Consultants.”

posted by: John Arlock on December 1, 2010  8:19am

This makes me sick. Here we have a mayor who has done nothing to improve education for the fifteen years he’s been in office. He’s now talking about reducing teacher pensions and increasing their health costs. If not they get laid off. That really motivates people, Mr DeStefano. New Haven teachers are not well paid. Just latch on to a book launch and look good. The voters will buy it. Well, that just doesn’t cut it. It takes effort and dedication in the classroom to educate children. Voters, its time to get rid of the mayor who built too many schools to get campaign contributions so he could run for governor.

posted by: NH Res on December 1, 2010  9:58am

Thanks to Paul and the Independent for organizing such a great panel. All of the panelists were thoughtful, and the blogging was great.

Not sure why the Henry haters are coming out of the woodwork but like Ms. Blatteau, I thought he had important things to say and added richness to the conversation. And now we know that he has substantive knowledge in education(in addition to his work at LEAP). So get over it haters.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  10:08am

Diane Ravitch didn’t Spark this Debate.She was a flame throw.I was there last night.She and Gray Highsmith. run rings around this panel.If you looked at most of the people on the panel,They could not answer her.She slam dunk alex johnson and Henry Fernandez throw the hoop.This women comes with the facts.I tell you what there is another person who is just like her and that is Dr. Jonathan Kozol.


posted by: Robert on December 1, 2010  10:28am

Sorry to be a downer but in my opinion the process and technology of this presentation was so overwrought that it essentially extinguished the subject itself.

There was so much tweeting and blogging and moving from participant to participant and facilitating and camera issues and typing noise in the background that I felt like I never heard from the author about her thoughts and arguments.  Is the future really about listening to 12 people and two facilitators while at the same time tracking numerous cross conversations in the blog world?

By the time we actually got to questions to the author the main video and sound was off.  I was able to get video through a blogger’s computer but it was a sketchy view of the back of the author’s head with no ability to hear her speak. 

I think the joke here is that new media sometimes becomes just about itself and the real world fades into a fuzzy picture of the back of someone’s head.

Hurrah for your ambition, but could we just go back to a live feed of a presentation followed by questions and answers?

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  10:32am

posted by: NH Res on December 1, 2010 9:58am
Thanks to Paul and the Independent for organizing such a great panel. All of the panelists were thoughtful, and the blogging was great.

Not sure why the Henry haters are coming out of the woodwork but like Ms. Blatteau, I thought he had important things to say and added richness to the conversation. And now we know that he has substantive knowledge in education(in addition to his work at LEAP). So get over it haters.

But he is in the pocket of king john.

posted by: NH Res on December 1, 2010  10:56am

Three-Fifths, my revolutionary brother, I am not sure I agree with you about Ravitch. She was good at pointing out all sorts of problems, but she never once offered solutions. I also can’t get past the fact that she once was one of the driving forces of a movement she now criticizes. I also found it disturbing that she has given up on kids that are poor, black and latino and in essence argues that unless you get rid of poverty, they are forever lost. Imagine if teachers shared her philosophy.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  1:35pm

posted by: NH Res on December 1, 2010 10:56am
Three-Fifths, my revolutionary brother, I am not sure I agree with you about Ravitch. She was good at pointing out all sorts of problems, but she never once offered solutions. I also can’t get past the fact that she once was one of the driving forces of a movement she now criticizes. I also found it disturbing that she has given up on kids that are poor, black and latino and in essence argues that unless you get rid of poverty, they are forever lost. Imagine if teachers shared her philosophy

You need to look at the show again.She did offer solutions.She says in her book and she said the charter and public school must wirk with each other.She said leave this school reform to the educates not business people.Proverty does play a role.We have a neew breed of the poor and they have come from the middle class that is now fading away.I have some peopel on my block who just lost there job in west haven when Captain’s Galley in west haven just went under.So now on my block I have fourteen people laid off.These people now will be working at least two to three jobs.Also they just did a study.The two wars that this country is in is affecting childern school work who parents are in this war Case in point. I help a grandmother out with her grandchildren because both of there parents are in afghanistan.It is takin a toll on the grandmother and grandchildren.No my friend they is a line to poverty and school work.

posted by: sharpeye on December 1, 2010 11:12am
Your comment, “Poverty is the culprit here, as well as the institutional racism that condemns whole families and gemerations to a vicious cycle pf hopelessness,” is in itselt, an epitome of RACISM.

FairHavenResident should tune in on successful, role model people like Bill Cosby, instead of promoting hateful despair, THAT HELPS NO ONE!

You need to sharpen you eye.Bill Cosby a role Model.Give me a break.

December 18, 2006 Vol. 66 No. 25 Bill Cosby Under FireBy Alex Tresniowski
The Comedian Settles a Case Accusing Him of Sexual Abuse—but Other Women Make Similar Claims


“Cosby Threw Me On the Bed and Braced His Forearm Against My Neck”
Another woman steps forward with allegations against Bill Cosby
By Barbara Bowman, as told to Robert Huber
Posted on 10/31/06   Text Size: A | A | A


posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 1, 2010  5:07pm

Leave it to my friend 3/5 to dig up the only so-called “expert” who is worse on schools than Ravitch - Jonathan Kozol!

Observations about last night:

There some great pointed questions and follow-ups from Paul Bass. 

Besides spouting some applause lines for her fans, Ravitch offered tired old platitudes and a grand total of ZERO solutions.  She answered every question in the negative.  Kind of a strange set of responses from someone who preaches about collaboration.

Her thoughts about teacher accountability?

Ravitch:  Well, I wouldn’t BLAME the teachers….

What are some of the paths to good reform?

Ravitch:  Well, to be sure it’s NOT waging a political fight against professional educators…

How do we measure success in schools?

Ravitch: Well, NOT through dumbed-down testing….

Get the picture, folks? 

I read her book, and last night heard a lot of confusion from this person - and definitely didn’t hear any specific answers.  As one smart observer suggested last night following the event: “Maybe she should start a couple of schools and show us how she would get it done”.  How about it Diane?  Show us how it’s done.

Other observations:

Henry Fernandez, sitting right next to Ravitch, had the finest moment of the evening when he defended eloquently the single most important virtue of NCLB which is that the law required schools to identify academic performance in demographic sub-groups thereby uncovering the hidden achievement gap in all schools. 

He also didn’t allow her to get away with blaming poverty for mis-education as he pointed out that prior to NCLB, black and brown children from low income families were viewed by lots of people as being “un-educable” due to their home circumstances.  It is now widely recognized that the belief that demographics = destiny is a spurious, prejudiced notion. 

Where Henry was wrong was in his statement that unionization is a moot point.  It is only a moot point if, as in Alabama and Mississippi, there exists a politically-controlled, corrupt, inept, dysfunctional school administration.

Either a strong union OR (not AND) a bad administration are prerequisites for a whole bunch of failing schools. Most urban districts have both the “evil twins” but you just need one or the other to have a failing district.

Conversely, if a patronage-laden management system is NOT present and district leaders embrace the notion that they are accountable for student outcomes and are otherwise motivated to act in the best interest of children - then in that kind of a GOOD MANAGEMENT SYSTEM, collective bargaining and binding arbitration are analogous to putting lead leg weights on a competitive marathon swimmer.  And while you’ll never hear it said openly from the top brass in New Haven in this golden era of “collaboration”, everyone knows that collective bargaining is NOT a good thing for students.

Demaris was terrific. 

And if the high energy, good-natured enthusiasm demonstrated by Tom Burns is evidence that a can-do spirit is percolating among the ranks of teachers, then maybe, just maybe we’ll get somewhere.  But honestly, I have my doubts as there were a bunch of ill-mannered dead-enders hissing and booing some of the panel from the back rows.  Is that how you teach your students to behave?

posted by: Lara on December 1, 2010  6:16pm

Our current education system pumps out submissive robots who are trained for a corporate mentality…people always consider what is going on in the schools as something that is not the real world, that the real world is corporate America.  I have heard many a teacher and parent explain how to behave and learn in the class and at home in order to make it out there in the REAL world.  Why is it that schools and home are considered not the REAL world and corporate America is? I do know one thing and that is that when we pay our taxes, we are paying for education.  I think we have to start understanding that WE, as taxpayers are paying for an education that is not training us for the REAL world, but to be submissive numbers that will one day work for a corporation and make them the money.  I don’t recall the college or school that early man went to in order to learn how to make his tools.  Somehow he figured it out on his own. He listened to his own inner workings and demands.  We are consumers, who are losing our rights to free speech, to information, to quality education.  Our government, and our schools are looking at students like data and numbers and that is what is not real.  We need to focus on what it is to be human, not robots, because robots are not creative, but humans are (how awesome is that).  It may be that mass education in general may be the issue.  At least with homeschooling and other ways of educating your kids or yourselves, one can focus on what matters most to them, not to the school, political entities, government, etc.  We need people who create, who listen to themselves, their own inner core.  That is the place of creativity, not the schools.  I realize that what I might be saying may sound out there to many, especially those who are involved in these bbureaucratic systems or what I may refer to as a bubble, but your way is not working and even now most people realize this and now it is time to understand that there are many ways to perceive life and for some of us who have been out in the real world, like myself a mother of 15 years, we can see CLEARLY that most people are not living in the real world.  I just recently went to a leadership conference, where a woman by the name of Alexis Jones, a social eentrepreneur said to the group…“Do you sign up for someone else’s dream or are you going to live this for you or someone else.  I think we need to look at giving our kids education that serves who they are, not the corporations. I think it is ridiculous that employers don’t like to hire people who have been out of work…that is a shame, because they have had much time to think about the importance of doing what is important to them, they are excited to work, they have had the chance to actually think and be creative and bring this new found knowledge back to the workplace.  As a mother, I do not find the schools responsible for educating my kids…I do.  I look for what things bring my kids energy and I facilitate their learning by showing them how to do it, and sometimes, by not doing it at all and letting them figure it out on their own.  Sometimes being a good mom, is letting your kids down and not buying them the latest and greatest and by letting them figure out how to get it on their own. It is my belief…that Not only do we need to re-think our educational system, we need to think…period. Actually have the time to allow our brains to process information so we can create America’s future…not be left behind, as corporations are pulling out of this country and inhabiting other countries, where they can pay very little, work them a lot without human rights considerations, and where there are so many more of them than us to make profits from.  I am strictly against sending kids who are very young to school (early start programs).  Where they need to be are with their parents getting nurturing and learning…not in the schools getting prepared for the corporate world…which is what schools do…educate our kids for future employers who do not nurture who we are, but the lining of their very fat wallets. As far as the speaker D.R. yes, she was swallowed by a system and may have even helped to develop it.  I cannot entirely speak on her behalf, but anyone who has been in the cave has some kind of gems that surface along with their experience…Even if she doesn’t have all the answers, she does have information and information positive or negative is what we need so we can put together important pieces in order to see what went wrong, so we can think of what we need to do that would make it right.  If we are going to learn, we shouldn’t insult those who are willing to talk about their experiences…that is their experience that we get to add to our consciousness, so we can move on and isn’t that what we humans do…progress?  Without the ability to listen and discern…I doubt that will happen.

posted by: Factoid on December 1, 2010  7:50pm

With a pathetic 22 comments its obvious no one in New Haven cares a hoot about educating the uneducable. There are 40 comments on providing showers for cyclists. So if Henry Fernandez is the democratic party’s replacement for DeStefano, he should take note. Buy a good bike.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  7:53pm

posted by: FIX THE SCHOOLS on December 1, 2010 5:07pm

Leave it to my friend 3/5 to dig up the only so-called “expert” who is worse on schools than Ravitch - Jonathan Kozol!

And leave to my main man fix to dig up these so call experts.Alex Johnson and Micheal Thomas
both who know nothing about education.

Besides spouting some applause lines for her fans, Ravitch offered tired old platitudes and a grand total of ZERO solutions.  She answered every question in the negative.  Kind of a strange set of responses from someone who preaches about collaboration

So how come your main men Alex and Micheal didn’t challenge her answers? Also when paul bass ask you man Michael the principal from achievement first about the appointment of Cathleen P. Black as New York City schools chancellor your man ducked the question.Also he also try to dance around paul bass question when paul said teaching is a profession and professionals should run the profession.He still ducked the question that paul bass ask do you agree with Diane Ravitch that you should come up from the professional ranks of education.When paul bass ask your man alex about testing and he started talking about that corporate vampire Bill Gates who by the way is pushing the HB1 visa program to get workers to come to from india to work in his company.


And Diane Ravitch challenge Aex on Bill Gates and testing Alex said nothing to challenge her back.Bottom line Fix your two main men came with a knife and she came with the gun and we all know you don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.She give both of them a Slacking.

read her book, and last night heard a lot of confusion from this person - and definitely didn’t hear any specific answers.  As one smart observer suggested last night following the event: “Maybe she should start a couple of schools and show us how she would get it done”.  How about it Diane?  Show us how it’s done.
You should have got on the panel or better yet got up to the open mic and challenged her on what she said,Or may be you were afraid of geting a Slacking?Show me anyone here in this state that can go toe to toe with her.

posted by: parentalvoice on December 1, 2010  8:28pm

I think Ravitch, being the true education researcher and historian that she is, wants us to find the answers.  I believe she is looking for a few good educators and committed community members to step up, organize the masses, and find the answers on our own.  Her book is meant to stimulate ideas and create critical thinking. It is meant to be debated.  What it is not, is a beacon that leads to the promised land. This forum was exactly that. A peaceful meaningful debate about the issues.

Ravitch sees - along with Kozel, FTS, all that is wrong with punitive testing and NCLB but wants us, the education community to step up and change policy.

It’s the policy makers that have failed. The Fordham Institute, DFER and Heritage Foundation oligarchs created this mess. They’ve created it purposefully to support their wealthy friends who want a piece of the billion dollar pie that is public education.

And, yes the correlation between poverty, racism, and education is loaded with facts that can no longer be ignored. Please don’t stick your head in the sand and think those issues do not have anything to do with a quality public school system and student achievement. The data shows otherwise.

If you want to hold teachers accountable, then you need to hold the policy creators accountable. But, of course we don’t hold these people accountable for their actions and blame the teachers. The same think tanks, and politicians, conservative and liberal keep creating the policy and the public including teachers blindly follow.

We have had 15 years of failed high stakes testing policy right hear in CT. Look at the seriously flawed, narrow questions that even children from Darien, New Cannan, and Westport get wrong in strands 24 and 25 of the math assessment.  A simple statistical analysis of these questions show they are flawed; yet, the state keeps using this test to assess children’s mathematical abilities. 

Fernandez was right. Unions are not a factor especially when it comes to creating policy. Yes they lobby, but how effectively these days? They’re running scared due to the teacher bashing and bulling occurring in this country.  Ravitch was also correct when she stated that the strongest educational systems have strong teacher’s unions.  Once again facts that cannot be denied.

BTW ConnCan was pretty ineffective during the forum. Why was Alex Johnston late? He looked very uncomfortable and was out of his league with the h.s. teacher on his right who had very solid experiential data to share supporting the uphill battle teachers face on a day to day basis.  Just sayin.

posted by: Chris Willems at Wilbur Cross on December 1, 2010  10:13pm

Kudos to Paul and everyone else involved in making this event happen.  Diane’s book is full of really important ideas we did not spend enough time discussing last night.

I hope future school change work offers more opportunities for open dialogue.

I feel we need more educator voices in this conversation.  I work with some amazing educators (teachers and administrators) in New Haven.  Our educators have a huge collective intelligence of urban education.  Tap this for solid solutions to our challenges.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  11:30pm

posted by: sharpeye on December 1, 2010 8:32pm
ThreeFifths:  NOT A SINNER?
It’s good that you have never sinned, and feel that you are are then deserving to chastise Bill Cosby, for his alleged sins.

Bill Cosby, probably confesses his sins, and reeveives absolution.  Have you confessed your sins, ThreeFifths

Every sin brings its punishment with it. ~
  Romanian Proverb

Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.”

Elbert Hubbard quotes

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on December 1, 2010  11:54pm

posted by: parentalvoice on December 1, 2010 8:28pm

BTW ConnCan was pretty ineffective during the forum. Why was Alex Johnston late? He looked very uncomfortable and was out of his league with the h.s. teacher on his right who had very solid experiential data to share supporting the uphill battle teachers face on a day to day basis.  Just sayin.

I agree with you.I was there last night and so the same thing.You are right on the money on all you have posted.In fact here are some websites that will back up what you are saying.



Here are some friends of my on this you tube who are fight also.


New Haven better wake up to this.

posted by: Tom Burns on December 9, 2010  1:10am

Just looking back at old posts for real worthy comments—-Lara and parentalvoice—awesome—as we move forward with this reform together—I hope you could be a part of it—if interested please call me at 860-227-6668—Tom

By the way—Michael Thomas of Achievement First is the real deal—-he is a real man, someone who cares about all individuals for the betterment of society—this coming from the union VP who is supposed to be against people associated with charters——we have talked on numerous occasions and he has earned my trust and admiration——a selfless individual who has great ideas——he is one of us, real people in the mix—-Tom

posted by: Tom Burns on December 9, 2010  1:44am

Paul Bass,
Where can I get a copy of the round table discussion? My wife will be using it in a presentation in another school district—we are willing to purchase it, of course—Tom

[Thanks for asking! Both the video of the panel discussion, as well as the transcript of the live-blogger and reader discussion, can be found at the following link:
http://newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/ravitch_live_blog/ ]