With all that’s going on with education ‘reform’ nowadays, I’ve been following Diane Ravitch a lot. Her commentary and analysis of the craziness that’s happening with teacher bashing and union busting makes me feel that there’s a chance that reason and logic will eventually prevail.
I finally got around to watching the lengthy talk she gave at a KIPP / TFA sponsored event in Houston last year. She’s a Houston native, so I guess they invited her to speak after having her tour a KIPP Houston school.
In the book that had just come out, Ravitch was very critical of charter schools, citing many examples of exclusionary tactics including having a lottery that excludes groups of kids and then having high attrition at many charters. She says that in California there’s a KIPP that kicked out something like 40% of its class.
I was curious how she could be a gracious guest while also making points that could influence KIPP and TFA with all their recent power.
My favorite ten minute portion can be seen here:
She did a great job warning her audience without alienating. She says that KIPP is one of the few ‘good’ charters and that they should be careful that other charters will thrive by riding the coat-tails of KIPP. She implores KIPP to tell Obama that their results are not typical. Then she says:
Do you want to go down in history as the exemplar that opened the door to a new era of deregulation, greed, and malpractice? Get out in front. Defend your integrity by explaining to the media that the wonderful results you get are unusual. They’re not typical of the charter school sector. You must disassociate yourself from the education robber barons, dilettantes, and incompetents who are following in your wake making false promises and delivering a low quality education to poor minority children.
She then talks about how charters should not be exclusive or counsel kids out, something that she knows, and that she knows KIPP knows, that they do, though she’s too polite of a southern gal to challenge them with it directly in that forum.
Then she moves onto TFA. She says that TFA needs to stop claiming that they will close the achievement gap. It will take a lot more than some teachers teaching for 2 or 3 years. Then in parallel fashion asks the rhetorical question
Does TFA want to be remembered in history as the leading edge in a movement that destroyed the education profession. Is that what your epitath will say one day?
Ravitch got many applause breaks throughout this powerful speech. To me it demonstrated that the TFA corps members who populated the audience are so much more with it than the TFA staff members. We have a realistic idea of what we’ve accomplished and what we can accomplish in our short stints. Only the organization likes to exaggerate our successes for its own benefit.
If you enjoy this ten minute clip, feel free to watch the entire hour here.