Advocacy Group Presses to Reverse Reforms, Get More Money for Government Schools

Published May 26, 2016

Too many states rely on standardized testing, have too many charter schools and other school choice options, and don’t pay teachers enough, states a new report by the Network for Public Education, a group led by education historian and policy advocate Diane Ravitch.

Valuing Public Education: A 50-State Report Card, rates the states A–F, based on the group’s policy positions in areas such as teacher evaluation and compensation, testing, and financial support for traditional public schools.

‘A Hit Piece on School Choice’

Jason Bedrick, a policy analyst for the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom and a former member of the New Hampshire state legislature, says Ravitch’s study is useless because it doesn’t look at educational outcomes.

“It’s nothing more than a hit piece on school choice,” Bedrick said.

Educational Left’s ‘Manifesto’

Ladner, a senior advisor for policy and research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, says the Ravitch study will have no impact outside the circles it was designed to reach, because Ravitch is preaching to the choir.

“[Ravitch] should be measuring outcomes, but instead, she’s writing for a group of far-left college educators, and this is their manifesto,” Ladner said. “This is clearly an ideological statement, because there are no considerations for outcomes like test scores or test score trends.

“Her report says, ‘We like these policies, and we’re going to write favorably about them,'” Ladner said.

The biggest problem with the Ravitch report, Ladner says, is the relationship between its findings and the results in the classroom.

“They are very much at odds,” Ladner said.

‘Looking Forward to an F-‘

For instance, Ladner says Arizona received an F grade in the Ravitch report, even though the National Assessment of Educational Progress data show in the period between 2003 and 2015, Arizona did much better than other states.

“In 4th grade math, Arizona had the ninth largest state gains, and in 8th grade math, the third-largest,” Ladner said. “In 4th grade reading, Arizona students had the 17th largest gain, and in 8th grade reading, the second-largest state gain. If that’s an F, I’m looking forward to an F-,” Ladner said.

Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) writes from Dallas, Texas.