To the Ravitch blog:
I like the conversation I find here on this blog site but I have been
following the conversation for a long time, since before NCLB, and I am
always wanting for a statement of some kind by those with whom I am
conversing as to what it is they understand the purpose of education to
- I ask this because I have to think that those who devised NCLB had a
very different notion of goals for the educated than I do. And I find
myself to feel at times, when I read Diane Ravitch’s comments and those of
many who follow this blog, that I differ in important ways with the goals
that seem to influence the perspectives presented here. I feel myself to
be a warrior of sorts, who had to rough it through the bad days of NCLB
and I wonder if those who are currently expressing their concerns with the
current state of education see the problem with NCLB being with the
methodology and not necessarily the goals.
My sense, from reading the documents that lent support to such NCLB
elements as Reading First and the push away from concern with thinking
(some were pretty hard on those who promoted critical thinking as a
central goal of good education) toward content delivered to students by
content experts who, it seems, were thought to hold truths that were to be
taken as truth by students who would be rewarded for repeating as truth
what they were told was truth.
It seemed to me that this emphasis, that resonated in the writing of many
of NCLB’s supporters, represented a notion of education that fit Freire’s
definition of “banking education,” which is an approach used not by those
who wish to liberate minds, but control them.
NCLB, to me, was created by and forced upon us by people who truly
believed in the importance of their authority, believed themselves to know
so well what others should know and become and be that they could impose a
world view (through the dissemination of “the “information” they found to
be important) that they really did not want those they were “educating” to
My sense that this was the notion of “goal” in force during the NCLB
period was to indoctrinate rather than educate was reinforced by the
behavior of the administration that forced NCLB upon us, an administration
that wanted to tell people what to believe even if what they were seeing
with their own eyes contradicted what they were being told (think WMD).
This was an administration that was pretty much responsible for the
economic collapse that we still are suffering, an administration that
pretty much allowed the public to be duped by corporations and big banks,
an administration that was advised in its methods by a man named Carl Rove
who does not care much about helping people to discover the truth of
things for themselves.
So, tying things together in what may be my own paranoid (or possibly
informed and thoughtful way) I came to think that a lot of what was going
on with NCLB was about making sure that people were susceptible rather
And now I ask that those with whom I converse for the purpose of improving
education come clean with their motives, with their sense of the goals
their comments are intended to help our educational system achieve.
Mine, simply stated, are to create and educational system that works to
promote informed independent thinkers who are able to “deliberate
effectively” so that their ideas are helpful to the democratic decision
making process, a process dependent on respect for the opinion of people
who are able to demonstrate with reason that their opinions, their hard
won opinion derived through effective deliberation, are respectable enough
for consideration by men and women of good will who desire to contribute
to the building of an ever more perfect union
Directly related, I think, to my last rant. While I do not always agree with DR, I do think that the news offered here is valuable. I think the beginning of a sensible campaign for change begins by understanding the motives of our opponents as well as their methods, at least for the purpose of convincing the people who must do so to take the kinds of actions they need to take.