In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Ravitch—former assistant secretary of education and a leader in the drive to create a national curriculum—examines her career in education reform and repudiates positions she once staunchly advocated. Drawing on over forty years of research and experience, Ravitch critiques today's most popular ideas for restructuring schools, including privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability, and the multiplication of charter schools. Ravitch includes clear prescriptions for improving America's schools: leave decisions about schools to educators, not politicians or businessmen; devise a truly national curriculum that sets out what children in every grade should be learning; expect charter schools to educate the kids who need the most help, instead of expecting them to compete with public schools; pay teachers a fair wage for their work, not “merit pay” based on flawed and unreliable test scores; and encourage family involvement in education from an early age. Now revised and updated, The Death and Life of the Great American School System is more than just an analysis of the current state of American education. It is a must-read for any stakeholder in the future of American schooling.
Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. She is the former Assistant Secretary of Education and a former member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. The author of ten books, including Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools, Ravitch lives in Brooklyn, New York.