Beyond TestingMs Ravitch is participating in an alternating blog with Deborah Meier called Bridging Differences on the Education Week Website, where they are trying to find what they have in common in their otherwise divergent messages about what matters most in education.
The single biggest problem in American education is that no one agrees on why we educate. Faced with this lack of consensus, policy makers define good education as higher test scores. But higher test scores are not a definition of good education. Students can get higher scores in reading and mathematics yet remain completely ignorant of science, the arts, civics, history, literature and foreign languages.
Why do we educate? We educate because we want citizens who are capable of taking responsibility for their lives and for our democracy. We want citizens who understand how their government works, who are knowledgeable about the history of their nation and other nations. We need citizens who are thoroughly educated in science. We need people who can communicate in other languages. We must ensure that every young person has the chance to engage in the arts. [My italics]
But because of our narrow-minded utilitarianism, we have forgotten what good education is.
Ravitch is a historian. Her book ‘‘The Death and Life of the Great American School System’’ will be published in February.
One of the other commentators goes on against BA degrees, ranting that they are not worth the paper they are printed on. I think he should read Ms Ravitch little piece - and her coming book - because I don't think he really understands why we educate our children. We are not educating them for that first job they get out of college, but to make them participating citizens in this country and the world.
Another touching story in the magazine is The Lost Student by Michelle Kuo, a Teach for America teacher in the Mississippi Delta for a year.