Tag Archives: Diane Ravitch

Our Students and Teachers: The Best in the World!

By dianeravitch, February 23, 2018

I call a moratorium on bashing our students and our teachers. If I could manage it, I would make that moratorium a permanent ban.

If you have been watching the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on television, you have seen young people who are smart, eloquent, well-informed, and reasonable. They are so much smarter than so many of our elected officials. The elected officials who dare to debate them are quickly shown to be empty suits.

These students are the best in the world. They survived a horrific attack on their school, stepped over the bodies of their friends and teachers, and emerged to tell the world that this American carnage (as Trump put it in his inaugural address) must stop. Now. No more school shootings. They are old enough to vote; the others will be voters by 2020. They are angry and they are focused, and they know what the problem is: guns. Too many guns. Easy access to guns. NRA money buying politicians.

They will not be bought off by empty promises to increase background checks. To extend the waiting period for an assault weapon. To raise the eligibile age to 21 for buying a weapon of mass murder. They know that mass murderers can pass background checks, can wait three days, and may be older than 21, like the killers in Orlando and Las Vegas. They want a ban on selling military weapons to civilians. They want a ban on sales of military weapons at gun shows and online. They will not be hoaxed. They call BS on phonies.

As we saw in the Sandy Hook massacre, the teachers and principal of these students defended them with their own bodies. They took the bullets to shield their students. They didn’t sign up to be targets for a homicidal maniac, but when the time of reckoning came, they gave their lives to save their students.

Meanwhile, “the good guys with guns” heard the shooting but stayed out of the building. The deputy assigned to protect the students has resigned, and two other officers are being investigated….

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Today is the Anniversary of the Worst Education Law Ever Passed by Congress

[Fortunately some courageous legislators have long been working against what Sen. Andy Dinniman (D-19) called the “testing obsession” in “Cash-starved schools but over $1B for testing?,” 9/27/16]

By dianeravitch, January 8, 2018

On January 8, 2002, President George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind into Law.

NCLB, as it was known, is the worst federal education legislation ever passed by Congress. It was punitive, harsh, stupid, ignorant about pedagogy and motivation, and ultimately a dismal failure. Those who still admire NCLB either helped write it, or were paid to like it, or were profiting from it.

It was Bush’s signature issue. He said it would end “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” It didn’t.

When he campaigned for the presidency, he and his surrogates claimed there had been a “Texas miracle.” There wasn’t.

All that was needed, they said, was to test every child in grades 3-8 every year in reading and math. Make the results for schools public. Reward schools that raised scores. Punish schools for lower scores. Then watch as test scores soar, graduation rates rise, and achievement gaps closed. It didn’t happen in Texas nor in the nation.

The theory was simple, simplistic, and stupid: test, then punish or reward….

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Why Was a Pennsylvania Senator So Eager to Get a Tax Break for a Small College in Michigan?

[Or, the case of Pat Toomey: how the game of donations and influence works. Why did he do it? Do you think donations by the Koch Brothers and Betsy DeVos to his campaigns could have something to do with it?]

By dianeravitch, December 5, 2017

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania sponsored an amendment to the GOP tax bill that would exempt small Hillsdale College in Michigan from a tax that would apply to other colleges with a sizable endowment. This exemption is worth $700,000 a year to Hillsdale College.

Why did he care so much about a college that is not even in his home state?

Hillsdale is an unusual college. It is one of the very few in the nation that refuses any federal funds, even for student aid, so that it is exempt from any federal regulations, like civil rights.

It is also a special object of the affection of the DeVos family. The DeVos family gave Pat Toomey $60,000 in his close 2016 election. He won’t face the voters again until 2022. Hillsdale College is also a favorite of the Koch brothers, who also supported Toomey’s re-election campaign.

Columnist Will Bunch explains Toomey’s peculiar affection for a super-conservative college not in his own state….

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Jeff Bryant: The GOP’s War on Learning, Revealed in the Tax Bills

by Diane Ravitch, dianeravitch.net, 12/3/17

The tax bills passed by Republicans in the House and Senate have some differences, but they jointly express disdain for students, public schools, higher education, and the importance of learning and opportunity.

Jeff Bryant explores the education details of the two bills, which will be reconciled in a conference committee.

The Senate plan “would double to $500 the $250 deduction teachers get for purchasing school supplies with their own money, rather than eliminate the deduction as the House version does. And while the House would eliminate deductions for student loan interest, college tuition and expenses, and tax breaks used by university employees and graduate students, the Senate proposal would preserve them.

“But many other features of the Senate plan would deeply harm students and schools.

“Both the Senate and House bills propose an excise tax on private college endowments with assets of more than $100,000 per student. Endowment funds are used to help pay for academic programs, campus facilities, and student services, private college leaders and advocates say.”

Endowment funds are also used to pay for scholarships. Taxing these funds will reduce the funding available for students who can’t pay tuition in expensive private colleges.

“The biggest threats to local schools in both plans are their proposals to end federal deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) that households take when they itemize. The House plan limits the pain with a $10,000 ceiling, but the Senate plan does away with the deduction altogether….

keep reading at dianeravitch.net