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Diane Ravitch
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Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education.

She blogs at dianeravitch.net, a site which has had nearly 8.3 million page views in less than a year.

From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. She was responsible for the Office of Educational Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education. As Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards.

From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers on Education Policy. Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.

She is the author of:

- The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010)
- Edspeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (2007)
- The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003)
- Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000)
- National Standards in American Education: A Citizen’s Guide (1995)
- What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? (with Chester Finn, Jr.) [1987]
- The Schools We Deserve (1985)
- The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945–1980 (1983)
- The Revisionists Revised (1978)
- The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805–1973 (1974)

In addition, she has edited fourteen books, including The American Reader (1991); The English Reader (with Michael Ravitch) [2006]; The Democracy Reader (with Abigail Thernstrom) [1992];Forgotten Heroes of American Education (with Wesley Null) [2007]; Learning from the Past (with Maris Vinovskis) [1995]; and New Schools for a New Century (with Joseph Viteritti) [1997]. She has written more than 500 articles and reviews for scholarly and popular publications.

She has lectured in Poland, the former Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, the former Soviet Union, Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, and throughout the United States. Her lectures on democracy and civic education have been translated by the USIA into many languages, including Polish, Spanish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian, Belarussian, and Ukrainian. Her books have been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Swedish, and Japanese.

She is an honorary life trustee of the New York Public Library and a former Guggenheim Fellow. She was a member of the Koret Task Force at the Hoover Institution (Stanford University) from 1999 to 2009. She was a member of the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation from 1996 to 2009.

In 1989, she advised Teachers Solidarity and the Ministry of Education in Poland. In 1991, the Polish Government awarded her a medal for her work on behalf of Solidarity.

She was elected to membership in the National Academy of Education (1979); the Society of American Historians (1984); the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985); and as the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences (2002). She was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar in 1984-85, the first person chosen from the field of education studies. She was awarded the Henry Allen Moe prize in the humanities by the American Philosophical Society in 1986. In 1988, she was designated an “honorary citizen of the state of California” by the State Legislature in recognition of her contributions to the state’s history curriculum and its human rights curriculum. In 1989, she received the Wellesley College Alumnae Achievement Award. She was honored as a Literary Lion by the New York Public Library in 1992. The Library of Congress invited her to deliver lectures in 1993 in honor of the 250th birthday of Thomas Jefferson. She received the Leadership Award of the Klingenstein Institute at Teachers College in 1994 and the Horace Kidger Award of the New England History Teachers Association in 1998.

In 2004, she received the Leadership Award of the New York City Council of Supervisors and Administrators. In 2005, she received the John Dewey award from the United Federation of Teachers of New York City; the Gaudium Award of the Breukelein Institute; and the Uncommon Book Award from the Hoover Institution. In 2006, the Kenneth J. Bialkin/Citigroup Public Service Award was conferred on her.

In 2010, the National Education Association selected her as its “Friend of Education” for the year, and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges conferred its Charles W. Eliot Award on Dr. Ravitch. In 2011, she has been honored with the Outstanding Friend of Education Award from the Horace Mann League; the American Education Award from the American Association of School Administrators; the National Association of Secondary School Principals’ Distinguished Service Award; and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Teachers College at Columbia University. In June of 2011, she received the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

She was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, by the following institutions: Williams College; Reed College; Amherst College; the State University of New York; Ramapo College; St. Joseph’s College of New York; Siena College; Middlebury College Language Schools; and Union College.

A native of Houston, she is a graduate of the Houston public schools. She received a B.A. from Wellesley College in 1960 and a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1975.

Entries by Diane Ravitch

A New Paradigm for Accountability: The Joy of Learning

(37) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 10:21 AM

Now that we have endured more than a dozen long years of No Child Left Behind and five fruitless, punitive years of Race to the Top, it is clear that they both failed. They relied on carrots and sticks and ignored intrinsic motivation. They crushed children's curiosity instead of cultivating...

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The Most Important Book of the Year: Bob Herbert's 'Losing Our Way'

(79) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 2:35 PM

Bob Herbert's new book Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America is one of the most important, most compelling books that I have read in many years. For those of us who have felt that something has gone seriously wrong in our country, Herbert connects the dots....

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What Matters More Than Test Scores

(31) Comments | Posted October 15, 2014 | 4:49 PM

As a nation, we worry far too much about PISA scores, which rank and rate students according to standardized tests. Many nations have higher average scores than we do, yet we are the most powerful nation on earth -- economically, technologically, and militarily. What do the PISA scores mean?

...
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Success Academy, 'The New York Times Magazine' and Public Education

(36) Comments | Posted September 7, 2014 | 9:08 PM

The New York Times Magazine has a long article about Eva Moskowitz and her chain of charter schools in New York City. The charter chain was originally called Harlem Success Academy, but Moskowitz dropped the word "Harlem" when she decided to open new schools in gentrifying neighborhoods and wanted...

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Will a Florida County's Bold Decision to Opt Out of State Testing Catch Fire?

(51) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 2:30 PM

Does Palm Beach County, Florida, have the nerve to follow the example set by Lee County, Florida, which just last week voted to opt the entire district out of state testing?

The Palm Beach County school board is weighing that decision, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

"Palm Beach...

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Why We Should Not Copy South Korea

(25) Comments | Posted August 3, 2014 | 7:03 PM

Secretary Arne Duncan has frequently pointed to the high test scores of students in South Korea as a model for American students to copy. We have heard again and again that we are losing "the global competition" to nations like South Korea where students and parents take tests very seriously....

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To Fight for Public Schools Is to Fight for Democracy

(72) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 9:47 AM

Friends, when a small group of parents and educators formed the Network for Public Education in 2013, we had a singular goal: to mobilize the allies of public education against the powerful forces supporting privatization and high-stakes testing. To advance that goal, we hoped to create a force to counter...

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What's at Stake in Public Education

(88) Comments | Posted July 18, 2014 | 9:15 AM

Jeff Bryant notes that many in the national media were stunned when the NEA called for Secretary Arne Duncan's resignation. For years, they believed the secretary's press releases instead of investigating the festering discontent against his ill-informed policies. Many journalists are oblivious to the protests by teachers -- like...

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The Excellent But False Messaging of the Common Core Standards

(141) Comments | Posted July 11, 2014 | 11:58 AM

Have you ever wondered about the amazingly effective campaign to sell the Common Core standards to the media, the business community, and the public? How did it happen that advocates for the standards used the same language, the same talking points, the same claims, no matter where they were located?

...
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Good Riddance to Common Core Testing

(95) Comments | Posted July 3, 2014 | 4:46 PM

A few years ago, Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, David Coleman, and a merry band of policy wonks had a grand plan. The non-governmental groups like Achieve, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Coleman's own Student Achievement Partners would write the Common Core standards (paid...

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Do Teachers' Unions Have Any Friends in the Obama Administration?

(84) Comments | Posted July 1, 2014 | 7:33 PM

We are living in an era when the very idea of public education is under attack, as are teachers' unions and the teaching profession. Let's be clear: these attacks and the power amassed behind them are unprecedented in American history. Sure, there have always been critics of public schools, of...

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Vergara Decision Is Latest Attempt to Blame Teachers and Weaken Public Education

(205) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 11:51 AM

Judge Rolf M. Treu, who decided the Vergara case, declared that he was shocked -- shocked! -- to learn from Professor Raj Chetty and Professor Thomas Kane of Harvard about the enormous harm that one "grossly ineffective" teacher can do to a child's lifetime earnings or...

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Time for Congress to Investigate Bill Gates' Coup

(626) Comments | Posted June 9, 2014 | 1:49 PM

The story about Bill Gates' swift and silent takeover of American education is startling. His role and the role of the U.S. Department of Education in drafting and imposing the Common Core standards on almost every state should be investigated by Congress.

The idea that the richest man...

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Business Group Pledges $500,000 Campaign for Common Core -- Who Will It Really Benefit?

(29) Comments | Posted May 30, 2014 | 5:02 PM

Who supports Common Core? Who opposes the new national standards? Are the critics right or left?

A new group in New York has been created to spend $500,000 to promote Common Core. This article says the group consists of business organizations but its prominent supporters are the Gates...

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Glenn Beck's Angry and Ignorant Book About Common Core

(228) Comments | Posted May 21, 2014 | 6:16 PM

Over the years, we have seen a steady dumbing down of American culture, especially in the mass media. Whether newspapers, radio, or television, we have lost many of our well-educated, cultured, well-informed thinkers. Often they have been replaced by shock jocks, ranting talk show hosts, and an entire cable channel...

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60 Years After Brown v. Board, Will Congress Revive a Dual School System?

(98) Comments | Posted May 17, 2014 | 11:30 AM

Congress is considering new charter legislation, awarding more money to the charter sector, which will operate with minimal accountability or transparency.

The bill has already passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan majority and now moves to the Senate.

Make no mistake: on the 60th anniversary of the...

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What Powerful and Greedy Elites Are Hiding When They Scapegoat the Schools

(193) Comments | Posted May 5, 2014 | 3:45 PM

Our economy is changing in ways that are alarming. Income inequality and wealth inequality are at their highest point in many decades; some say we are back to the age of the robber barons. Most of the gains in the economy since the great recession of 2008...

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Louis C.K. Takes Aim at Common Core -- And We're All Smarter for It

(342) Comments | Posted May 2, 2014 | 9:47 AM

There is a battle royal being waged across the nation about a set of national academic standards called the Common Core.

On one side, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has warned that the future of the nation depends on these standards. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates has spent hundreds of...

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Why Doesn't the New York Times Understand the Controversy Over Common Core?

(153) Comments | Posted April 20, 2014 | 2:47 PM

In story after story, the New York Times consistently misses the essence of the controversy surrounding Common Core.

Sunday's New York Times gives its lead article on page 1, column right, top of the fold, to the battle raging within the Republican Party, about the Common Core. On one...

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New Report Rebukes Central Feature of 'Race to the Top'

(45) Comments | Posted April 13, 2014 | 3:47 PM

The central feature of the Obama administration's $5 billion "Race to the Top" program was sharply refuted last week by the American Statistical Association, one of the nation's leading scholarly organizations. Spurred on by the administration's combination of federal cash and mandates, most states are now using student test...

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