The Ravitch Reformation Won’t Help Public Schools

Published March 12, 2010

Diane Ravitch (“Why I Changed My Mind About School Reform,” March 9) illustrates why real education reform is too important to be left to “experts.”

Her call for “a coherent curriculum that prepares all students” and “a good school in every neighborhood in the nation” is a fine vision. However, anyone familiar with education reform realizes the marketplace is the only institution capable of making that vision a reality.

In the half-century that saw American education go from the best in the developed world to one of the worst, we have seen greater centralization and bureaucratization of education. Ms. Ravitch’s suggestion that better bureaucrats will improve outcomes is incomprehensible.

Her citation of data on charters and choice programs ignores the fact that education in America is controlled by powerful forces that have a financial interest in limiting reform. Anyone who has actually visited a small private or charter school can easily experience what her selective citation of data hides.

We can provide every child with an adequate, if not superior, education. We can likely do this by spending less money, not more. All we have to do is have the money follow the child, not the bureaucracy.

Ms. Ravitch has years of experience in the reform movement. That may be why she can no longer see the forest for the trees. Improving education in America is a political, not an academic, battle. It will be won when the “the market” outperforms the failed and over-priced bureaucracy-based education that brought us to where we are today.

Charters, choice, and other market-based reforms are the only way America will ever attain Ms. Ravitch’s vision.

Bruno Behrend

The Heartland Institute