“No Daylight Between Us”

by Robert Pondiscio
March 3rd, 2010

Diane Ravitch’s new book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, has tongues wagging from one end of the edusphere to the other.  The New York Times’ Sam Dillon weighs in with a profile of Ravitch, which gives play to the overhyped “I was blind but now I see” angle that’s dominating reviews so far

Checker Finn files a review of the book over at Forbes.com, and he makes an important point about Ravitch’s putative reversals.  When it comes to curriculum, Ravitch’s views haven’t changed a bit:

Diane and I go back a very long way–three decades, give or take–and in addition to the personal friendship we have, during that period, shared a basic diagnosis of what’s awry in U.S. education. It boils down to this: Most kids aren’t learning nearly enough of the important stuff that they ought to be learning.  That was true in 1981, when we jointly launched the Educational Excellence Network, and it’s still true today. Our view of the central problem needing to be solved has, I believe, remained constant, and there is no daylight between us on that score.

Where Finn parts company with his friend is on where we go from here.  “She has become more conservative,” Finn writes, “while I have become more radical.”


  1. THANK YOU for making that important point, which has been lost on so many reporters who should know SO MUCH BETTER. Finn’s use of the word “conservative” is very interesting, given the context….

    Comment by Claus — March 3, 2010 @ 12:13 pm

  2. I’m curious to read it, but admittedly skeptical too. Our public schools have changed relatively little over the last 50 years…so I’m really hoping that Ravitch addresses new ideas for moving forward rather than just defending the current system.

    Comment by MBW — March 3, 2010 @ 2:49 pm

  3. The most interesting part of this process is seeing who got review copies of Ravitch’s book. I’m surprised that Ravitch-and-publisher aren’t more committed to working with her former allies to help them convert. Instead, there’s a virtual book tour on Leo Casey’s Edwize.

    Comment by Matthew K. Tabor — March 3, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  4. from the Times:

    But Mr. Finn has reached sharply different conclusions from Dr. Ravitch.

    “Diane says, ‘Let’s return to the old public school system,’ ” he said. “I say let’s blow it up.”

    Comment by Catherine Johnson — March 17, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

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