Diane Ravitch: Kids don’t come to school for test prep

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3-4-11

Education historian Diane Ravitch visited Jon Stewart last night to discuss her book, ““The Death and Life of the Great American School System.”

Among her comments: “Schools have turned into testing factories. Less time for the arts. Less time for science. Less time for history, physical education, civics — all the things that make school interesting. “

“Kids have to have a reason to come to school. I never met a child who said ‘I can’t wait to get to school for test prep.’”

She held out Finland – with 100 percent teacher unions and no standardized testing – as a model for the United States. Finland focuses on teacher prep and high quality teachers, she said, and has no school privatization movement, no charter schools. Ravitch said America actually outperforms Finland in low poverty schools.

Where America is failing, she said, is in schools with high poverty and racial isolation. While public policy debate wants to pretend that poverty doesn’t matter in schools, Ravitch said, “If you are homeless and hungry, it does matter.”

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