WSW: How A One-Time Advocate Of Charter Schools Became A Vocal Critic

Mar 19, 2018

Credit The Charter School / Wikimedia Commons

(Ravitch's scheduled appearance in Kalamazoo has been rescheduled - she will speak Wednesday April 18th at Western Michigan University.)  

Diane Ravitch was a supporter of charter schools when she worked in the Education Department of the George H.W. Bush administration. But she says evidence convinced her that education choice is “just moving kids around” and doesn’t address the needs of children.


Ravitch' scheduled address at Western Michigan University on Thursday, March 22nd  called Education Reform and the Promise of Public Education was postponed because of bad weather on the East Coast. It has now been rescheduled for April 18th at 7:00 in Western Michigan University's Schneider Hall. Ravitch's address is sponsored by the University Center for the Humanities.

Ravitch worked in the Education Department when Lamar Alexander was Secretary of Education. He was a supporter of charters and vouchers. Ravitch held similar views, but she says research continued to show that charters are not better, and kids who attend them lose ground. Ravitch says the same is true for vouchers which allow people to take the tax dollars that would be spent for their child to attend public school, and use it for private school tuition.

Part of the problem, Ravitch says, is the importance put on standardized tests. She says heavy reliance on test scores leads to cheating, and gaming the system. Ravitch says all students should have an opportunity to get a well-rounded education that includes the arts, music, physical education, access to advanced courses and foreign languages.

Ravitch says the idea of school choice doesn’t mean much when the choice is to go to a worse school. She says the state of Michigan spends a lot of money every year on school choice, she says that money would be better-spent on making all of the state’s public schools better.

Image from Wikimedia Commons