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

She blogs at, 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

Why The Opt Out Movement Is Crucial For The Future Of Public Education

(0) Comments | Posted July 7, 2016 | 9:24 AM

Many parents and educators are outraged by the over-testing and misuse of testing that has been embedded in federal policy since the enactment of No Child Left Behind in 2002. No high-performing nation in the world tests every child every year in grades 3-8, as we have since the passage...

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My Choice for President

(573) Comments | Posted May 26, 2016 | 12:10 PM

I have my own blog, with many readers (approaching 27 million hits). Lately, the readers have been debating, sometimes fiercely, the current presidential race. Many have asked them where I stand. Here is my answer.

I have been consistently even-handed in the presidential race in dealing with the candidates of...

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Trying to Educate the Education Reformers, Without Success

(5) Comments | Posted May 20, 2016 | 3:58 PM

Peter Cunningham, former deputy to Arne Duncan, accused Carol Burris and me of "attacking" Campbell Brown. He says we "attack" anyone who disagrees with us. Peter now runs a website called Education Post, where he received $12 million from various billionaires (including Walton and Bloomberg) to defend the...

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That Dumb Bathroom Bill in North Carolina

(189) Comments | Posted April 22, 2016 | 8:45 AM

Did you know that one of the biggest issues in American politics today is not terrorism, not climate change, not the economy, but... whether transgender people should be allowed to go to the bathroom that matches their gender identity?

Yes, it is true. North Carolina passed HB2, which requires transgender...

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Why Every Child Should Opt Out of the Standardized Tests

(158) Comments | Posted April 11, 2016 | 9:33 AM

Want to end the obsession with standardized testing? Opt your children out of the state tests.

Ignore the threats from state and federal officials. The tests today have taken over too much of the school year. Teachers should prepare and give tests that cover what they taught.


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Education in Crisis and the Threat of Privatization

(220) Comments | Posted March 29, 2016 | 12:58 PM

It has become conventional wisdom that "education is in crisis." I have been asked about this question by many interviewers. They say something like: "Do you think American education is in crisis? What is the cause of the crisis?" And I answer, "Yes, there is a crisis, but it is...

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Why I Will Not Endorse a Candidate in the Primaries

(474) Comments | Posted March 15, 2016 | 12:03 PM

Many readers have asked me why I have not endorsed anyone in the primaries.

I will not vote for anyone running on the Republican ticket because they are all committed to privatization and destruction of our public schools. That is a line I will not cross. They berate public schools...

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Arne Duncan's Legacy

(205) Comments | Posted July 9, 2015 | 8:38 AM

Lyndsey Layton of the Washington Post has written a sympathetic article about Arne Duncan and the waning of his powers as Secretary of Education. He is a nice guy. He is a close friend of the president. He cares about individual children that he met along the...

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I Believe in Freedom of Choice

(230) Comments | Posted June 11, 2015 | 11:20 AM

Parents should be able to send their children to the school of their choice, and they do; but the public should not be expected to pay for their private choices.

The public has a civic obligation to support public education. Even if you don't have children, you pay taxes to...

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Vietnam Wallops U.S. on Test Scores But Vietnamese Educators Scoff at Tests

(119) Comments | Posted May 15, 2015 | 8:16 AM

In a newly released summary of PISA test scores, students in Vietnam had higher test scores than their 15-year-old peers in the U.S. and most European Union nations.

For some in the U.S. media, this will set off alarm bells, produce hand-wringing, and provoke fears of "a Sputnik...

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An Open Letter to Lamar Alexander: Don't Forget Rule #84 in 'The Little Plaid Book'

(9) Comments | Posted January 20, 2015 | 8:05 AM

Senator Lamar Alexander
U.S. Senate
Washington, D.C.

Dear Lamar,

I wish I could be in Washington for the hearings about the reauthorization of NCLB. I can't make it for two reasons: I wasn't invited, and I have a date to speak to parents at P.S. 3...

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A New Paradigm for Accountability: The Joy of Learning

(37) Comments | Posted November 12, 2014 | 9:21 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'

(77) Comments | Posted November 6, 2014 | 1:35 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 | 3:49 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 | 8:08 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?

(49) Comments | Posted August 29, 2014 | 1:30 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

(9) Comments | Posted August 3, 2014 | 6:03 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

(71) Comments | Posted July 24, 2014 | 8:47 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 | 8:15 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 | 10:58 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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