Acclaimed educational historian Dr. Diane Ravitch spoke to a full house at Lesley University.
Dr. Diane Ravitch needed little introduction on May 18 – many in the University Hall Amphitheater clutched well-thumbed titles from the dozens of books she’s written and edited.
True to the style of her written work, the acclaimed educational historian brought bold statements supported with facts, years of perspective and a deep-seated concern for the state of education in America’s classrooms.
“These are perilous times for educators,” Ravitch said. “Everywhere I go, I see how beaten down teachers feel. They are enemy number one – states are cutting their rights to bargain, cutting pensions, eroding seniority; entire teaching staffs have been fired. Their beliefs about education are not wrong, but the people beating up on them are wrong.”
During her lecture, she was provocative in her criticism of proponents of charter schools, over-reliance on standardized testing, and what she called “propaganda for privatization” through films like Waiting for Superman.
“They say that American public education is terrible, test scores are horrible, we’re not competitive with other countries, and that poor children are trapped in drop out factories,” she said. “The narrative is wrong. If we’re worried the top scoring nation will do us in, we must fear Finland.”
Dr. Ravitch is one of the country’s most highly regarded educational historians. In addition to her teaching and research, Dr. Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education in the administration of President George H.W. Bush and was appointed by the Clinton administration to oversee the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She is the author and editor of numerous books and articles on education in the US, and has lectured on democracy and civic education throughout the world.
Ravitch joined Lesley for two events, beginning with a lecture to the faculty and members of the community. Afterwards, Ravitch and Lesley University President Joseph Moore engaged in discussion as the featured event in the first meeting of the Lesley University Leadership Council, a group of influential alumni and public-spirited leaders in the Greater Boston area and beyond that assist the university in defining its strategic direction and fulfilling its mission. The council is co-chaired by Michael Dukakis, former Governor of Massachusetts and the 1988 Democratic Nominee for President, and his wife Kitty, an engaged Lesley alumna.
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