07/10/2013

Ravitch urges unity in the face of threats to education

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In a new post on her popular blog, education historian Diane Ravitch writes about her long history with AFT president Randi Weingarten and the need to work together to strengthen public education, despite their policy differences.

Ravitch, who has become a leading critic of many so-called education reforms after years as an outspoken conservative, has had frequent interactions with Weingarten and the AFT, including a book release celebration hosted by the union, speeches at major AFT meetings, and, most recently, co-authoring a letter with Weingarten to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urging him to intervene to stop the destruction of public education in Philadelphia (see related story).

"We don't agree about every issue," Ravitch writes, but she notes that their agreements far outweigh the disagreements. "Randi was the first one to alert me years ago to the total inappropriateness of the business model in education. She is a lawyer, and she is very smart. Randi was first, in my memory, to talk about 'reform fatigue.' She is courageous."

Weingarten also has been the subject of critical comments from contributors to Ravitch's lively comments section. "It serves no purpose for those of us opposed to teacher-bashing and corporate reform to fight among ourselves," Ravitch says. "We must stand together so that we will one day prevail over those who want to destroy public education and the teaching profession. We can't win if we are divided."

"Today," she continues, "American public education faces an existential threat. … We all need to work together, argue when we must, but maintain our basic unity against the truly radical, truly reactionary threat of privatization. As a nation, as a democracy, we cannot afford to lose this essential democratizing institution." [Dan Gursky, Diane Ravitch's blog]

July 10, 2013