Diane Silvers Ravitch
is an historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...
's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S.
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...
Assistant Secretary of Education
Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader
magazine, a small journal devoted to democratic ideas. In 1975, she became a historian of education with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At that time she worked closely with Teachers College
Teachers College, Columbia University is a graduate school of education located in New York City, New York...
president Lawrence A. Cremin
Lawrence A. Cremin was an educational historian and administrator. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1949. He won the 1962 Bancroft Prize in American History for his book The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876-1957...
, who was her mentor.
She was appointed to public office by both President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...
and his successor Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...
. Secretary of Education
The United States Secretary of Education is the head of the Department of Education. The Secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet, and 16th in line of United States presidential line of succession...
Richard Wilson Riley , American politician, was United States Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton and the 111th Governor of South Carolina. He is a member of the Democratic Party....
appointed her to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the largest continuing and nationally representative assessment of what our nation’s students know and can do in core subjects. NAEP is a congressionally mandated project administered by the National Center for Education Statistics , within the ...
; she was a member of NAGB from 1997 to 2004.
She has participated in a "blog debate" called "Bridging Differences" with Steinhardt School colleague Deborah Meier
Deborah Meier is an American educator often considered the founder of the modern small schools movement. After spending several years as a kindergarten teacher in Chicago, Philadelphia and then New York City, in 1974, Meier became the founder and director of the alternative Central Park East...
on the website of Education Week
Education Week is a United States national newspaper covering K-12 education. It is published by Editorial Projects in Education , a non-profit organization, which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland...
since February 26, 2007.
Writings and statements on education
Ravitch critiqued the punitive uses of accountability to fire teachers and close schools, as well as replacing public schools with charter school
Charter schools are primary or secondary schools that receive public money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other public schools in exchange for some type of accountability for producing certain results, which are set forth in each school's charter...
s and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education
(2010). The book became a surprise best seller a month after its release. One reviewer wrote "Ravitch exhibits an interesting mix of support for public education and the rights of teachers to bargain collectively with a tough-mindedness that some on the pedagogical left lack."
While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, Ravitch later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers."
Ravitch said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by "right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...
," for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers' unions. She reviewed the documentary Waiting for Superman
Waiting for "Superman" is a 2010 documentary film from director Davis Guggenheim and producer Lesley Chilcott. The film analyzes the failures of American public education by following several students through the educational system, hoping to be selected in a lottery for acceptance into charter...
, directed by Davis Guggenheim
Philip Davis Guggenheim is an Academy Award-winning American film director and producer. His credits as a producer and director include Training Day, The Shield, Alias, 24, NYPD Blue, ER, Deadwood, and Party of Five and the documentaries An Inconvenient Truth and Waiting for 'Superman...
, as "propagandistic" (pro-charter schools and anti-public schools), studded with "myths" and at least one "flatly wrong" claim. Of Education Secretary Arne Duncan
Arne Duncan is an American education administrator and currently United States Secretary of Education. Duncan previously served as CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.-Early years and personal:...
's Race to the Top
Race to the Top, abbreviated R2T, RTTT or RTT, is a $4.35 billion United States Department of Education competition designed to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education...
program, Ravitch said in a 2011 interview it "is an extension of No Child Left Behind ...[,] all bad ideas." She concluded "We are destroying our education system, blowing it up by these stupid policies. And handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. There's plenty of evidence by now that the kids in those schools do no better, and it's simply a way of avoiding their - the public responsibility to provide good education."
Her book The Language Police
(2003) was a criticism of both left-wing
In politics, Left, left-wing and leftist generally refer to support for social change to create a more egalitarian society...
In politics, Right, right-wing and rightist generally refer to support for a hierarchical society justified on the basis of an appeal to natural law or tradition. To varying degrees, the Right rejects the egalitarian objectives of left-wing politics, claiming that the imposition of equality is...
attempts to stifle the study and expression of views deemed unworthy by those groups. (See political correctness
Political correctness is a term which denotes language, ideas, policies, and behavior seen as seeking to minimize social and institutional offense in occupational, gender, racial, cultural, sexual orientation, certain other religions, beliefs or ideologies, disability, and age-related contexts,...
Multiculturalism is the appreciation, acceptance or promotion of multiple cultures, applied to the demographic make-up of a specific place, usually at the organizational level, e.g...
). The Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...
review summarizes Ravitch's thesis as "pressure groups from the political right and left have wrested control of the language and content of textbooks and standardized exams, often at the expense of the truth (in the case of history), of literary quality (in the case of literature), and of education in general." Publishers Weekly wrote: "Ravitch contends that these sanitized materials sacrifice literary quality and historical accuracy in order to escape controversy."
Ravitch's writings on racial and cultural diversity were summarized by sociologist Vincent N. Parrillo
Vincent N. Parrillo is a professor of sociology at William Paterson University. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Liège, Belgium , the University of Pisa, Italy , and Roehampton University, London...
Ravitch was born in 1938 in Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...
, where she went to public schools. She is one of eight children. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, has a Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...
from Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...
, and lives in Brooklyn
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...
, New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...
. She married Richard Ravitch
Richard Ravitch is an American politician and businessman who served as the 75th Lieutenant Governor of New York from 2009 to 2010. He was appointed to the position in July 2009 by New York Governor David Paterson...
(who later served as Lieutenant Governor of New York
The Lieutenant Governor of New York is a constitutional office in the executive branch of the government of New York State. It is the second highest ranking official in state government. The lieutenant governor is elected on a ticket with the governor for a four year term...
) in 1960 and they divorced in 1986. They have two sons; a third son died of leukemia at the age of 2.
Ravitch lives in Brooklyn Heights, New York. Her longtime companion is Mary Butz, a New York City public school principal who founded a small, highly-rated non-selective public high school and subsequently administered a progressive principal-training program until her retirement in 2003.
- International PEN
PEN International , the worldwide association of writers, was founded in London in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual co-operation among writers everywhere....
- American Academy of Political and Social Sciences
- National Academy of Education
- Society of American Historians
- American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...
- Albert Shanker Institute
- The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805-1973 (1974, reissued 1988, 2000) ISBN 0801864712
- The Revisionists Revised: A Critique of the Radical Attack on the Schools (1978) ISBN 0-465-06943-6
- The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (1985) ISBN 0-465-08757-4
- The Schools We Deserve (1985) ISBN 0-465-07236-4
- Schools in Cities: Consensus and Conflict in American Educational History (1983) ISBN 0-8419-0850-8
- Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools (1984) ISBN 0-8419-0944-X
- Challenges to the Humanities (1985) ISBN 0-8419-1017-0
- What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know: A Report on the First National Assessment of History and Literature (1989) ISBN 0-06-015849-2
- The American Reader : Words That Moved a Nation (1990) ISBN 0-06-016480-8
- National Standards in American Education: A Consumer's Guide (1995) ISBN 0-8157-7352-8
- New Schools for a New Century: The Redesign of Urban Education (1997) ISBN 0-300-07874-9
- City Schools: Lessons from New York (2000) ISBN 0-8018-6341-4
- Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000) ISBN 0-684-84417-6
- The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) ISBN 0-375-41482-7
- Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society (2003) ISBN 0-300-09917-7
- Kid Stuff: Marketing Sex and Violence to America's Children (2003) ISBN 0-8018-7327-4
- Forgotten Heroes of American Education: The Great Tradition of Teaching Teachers (2006) ISBN 1-59311-448-6
- The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (2006) ISBN 0-19-507729-6
- EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (2007) ISBN 978-1-4166-0575-1
- The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) ISBN 978-0-465-01491-0
Ravitch has published more than 500 articles in scholarly and popular journals.
Delta Kappa Gamma Educators' Award
- 1975, for The Great School Wars, New York City, 1805-1973
- 1984, for The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945- 1980
Ambassador of Honor Award, English-Speaking Union
The English-Speaking Union is an international educational charity which was founded by the journalist Evelyn Wrench in 1918. The ESU aims to "bring together and empower people of different languages and cultures," by building skills and confidence in communication, such that individuals realize...
- 1984, for The Troubled Crusade
- 1985, for The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crises of Our Times
- Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar, 1984–85
- Henry Allen Moe Prize, American Philosophical Society
The American Philosophical Society, founded in 1743, and located in Philadelphia, Pa., is an eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, that promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications,...
- designated honorary citizen, State of California Senate Rules Committee, 1988, for work on state curriculum
- Alumnae Achievement Award, Wellesley College, 1989
- Medal of Distinction, Polish National Council of Education, 1991
- Literary Lion, New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...
- Award for Distinguished Service, New York Academy of Public Education, 1994
- Horace Kidger Award, New England History Teachers Association, 1998
- Award of Excellence, St. John's University School of Education, 1998
- John Dewey Education Award, United Federation of Teachers
The United Federation of Teachers is the labor union that represents most educators in New York City public schools. , there were about 118,000 in-service educators and 17,000 paraprofessionals in the union, as well as about 54,000 retired members...
- Guggenheim fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those "who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts." Each year, the foundation makes...
, 1977 http://www.gf.org/fellows/12014-diane-s-ravitch
- Honorary Life Trustee, New York Public Library
The New York Public Library is the largest public library in North America and is one of the United States' most significant research libraries...
- John Dewey Award, United Federation of Teachers, New York City, 2005
- Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute, 2005
- Uncommon Book Award, Hoover Institution, 2005
- NEA Friend of Education, 2010
- American Association of School Administrators, American Education Award, 2011
- Outstanding Friend of Education Award, Horace Mann League, 2011
- Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2011
- Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award, American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, 2011
- Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...
- Reed College
Reed College is a private, independent, liberal arts college located in southeast Portland, Oregon. Founded in 1908, Reed is a residential college with a campus located in Portland's Eastmoreland neighborhood, featuring architecture based on the Tudor-Gothic style, and a forested canyon wilderness...
- Amherst College
Amherst College is a private liberal arts college located in Amherst, Massachusetts, United States. Amherst is an exclusively undergraduate four-year institution and enrolled 1,744 students in the fall of 2009...
- State University of New York
The State University of New York, abbreviated SUNY , is a system of public institutions of higher education in New York, United States. It is the largest comprehensive system of universities, colleges, and community colleges in the United States, with a total enrollment of 465,000 students, plus...
- Ramapo College
Ramapo College of New Jersey is a public liberal arts and professional studies institution of the New Jersey system of higher education.- Location :...
- Saint Joseph's College (New York)
- Middlebury College
Middlebury College is a private liberal arts college located in Middlebury, Vermont, USA. Founded in 1800, it is one of the oldest liberal arts colleges in the United States. Drawing 2,400 undergraduates from all 50 United States and over 70 countries, Middlebury offers 44 majors in the arts,...
- Union College
Union College is a private, non-denominational liberal arts college located in Schenectady, New York, United States. Founded in 1795, it was the first institution of higher learning chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. In the 19th century, it became the "Mother of Fraternities", as...
- Siena College
Siena College is an independent Roman Catholic liberal arts college in Loudonville, in the town of Colonie, New York, United States. Siena is a four-year, coeducational, independent college in the Franciscan tradition, founded by the Franciscan Friars in 1937. It has 3,000 full-time students and...