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Popular Educational Classics

A Reader

Edited By Joseph L. DeVitis

The last half century has created deep tensions in how we analyze educational and social change. Educators, policymakers, and concerned citizens have had to cope with competing belief systems in evaluating and acting upon school policies and practices. This illuminating book untangles many of the roots of those persistent debates that have divided the nation for so long. It offers readers a critical opportunity to reflect on our continuing ideological struggles by examining popular books that have made a difference in educational discourse.
The editor has specifically selected key books on social and educational controversies that speak to wide audiences. They frame contextual issues that so-called «school reformers» have often neglected – much to the detriment of any real educational progress. Ultimately, this text is meant to stir our consciences, to disorder our certainties, and to compel us to treat education and culture with both reason and passion. It is highly relevant for courses in social foundations of education, school reform, educational policy studies, philosophy of education, history of education, politics of education, curriculum studies, and teacher education.
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Chapter Thirty-Seven: Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013)

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THIRTY-SEVEN

Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013)

Marcia Peck

I left the Western United States and my 22 years as a public school teacher 6 years ago to become an education professor in the South. While I was excited to begin a new career and elated at the lack of snow in winter, I was quite puzzled by what I observed in classrooms and heard from my students. Everything I knew about the characteristics of quality education seemed to have been co-opted by draconian measures of control. This was especially evident in schools with mostly poor children of color. I observed children standing silently in line on the “third tile from the wall” and being screamed at if they moved or talked. I saw high school students only allowed bathroom privileges when they were escorted en masse to the locked restrooms during class. I heard about silent lunch, no recess, and 7 weeks of test preparation followed by a month of testing. I was confused by such happenings, since most of the recipients of this inhumane treatment were the very children most in need of quality pedagogy and a supportive school climate.

In frustration, I asked one class of practicing teachers, “How can you...

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