Education historian Diane Ravitch was once a fan of testing and accountability as the way to fix schools. She worked under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. She backed No Child Left Behind.
But she’s had a change of mind. In her newest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, she has come to criticize the school reform ideas she once championed.
Ravitch zooms in on San Diego Unified and the school reform battles under former Superintendent Alan Bersin as one example of the kind of change she believes has not worked — and will not work — in schools.
Her book is a unique outside look at one of our most controversial school leaders, one who has continued to spark debate over how schools should be fixed long after his departure.
It is an even more fascinating look now, after San Diego Unified has chosen a very different leader to carry out a different, grassroots model of reform. I couldn’t swing a flight to New York, so I chatted with Ravitch over e-mail this week.
Why San Diego? What is it about the battles here that proved important for you in illustrating a larger point about school reform?