Get schooled

Conservative education scholar Diane Ravitch, an assistant education secretary of research in the first Bush administration, is not afraid to change her mind. She prized market-based policies such as school choice and competition to reform public education until the harmful results became clear. In this book, subtitled How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Ravitch examines the result of policies like the No Child Left Behind Act. It measures public schools’ performances solely by student scores on standardized math and reading tests. Some underperforming schools close, then reopen as charter schools (think Sacramento High School). Meanwhile, research on charters’ academic performance reveals mixed results. Ravitch urges us to rethink such tests as a part of public education. Further, she calls for school curriculum to improve. Ravitch wants school time for students to study art, history, literature and science. We ignore her at their—and our—peril.