Used and discarded by the king!
In “The Dissenter” in the current New Republic (h/t RealClearBooks), Kevin Carey has written a fascinating article on professional education reformer Diane Ravitch. As many of you may recall, she has switched sides recently from being a conservative supporter of No Child Left Behind, charter schools, and vouchers, to identifying those very reforms as part of an intentional effort to “destroy” public education.
The whole portrait of Ravitch is worth the read. Like many women of her generation (Ravitch was born in 1938), she achieved her graduate education only after marrying and starting a family. Even then, she couldn’t win acceptance into Columbia’s doctoral program in History–she was deemed too old (at 34!) and too female. But Carey makes it clear that hers is really the career of a polemicist, not an academic. More important than graduate school is the fact that she volunteered for six years at The New Leader, “a small but influential publication of the anti-communist left, [where she] asked for a job. When the editor, Myron Kolatch, said he couldn’t afford to hire her, Ravitch offered to work for free.” Carey continues:
The New Leader was where Ravitch received her true education. The small staff was crammed into one room on the fourth floor of an old building. Then and future luminaries like Daniel Bell and Nathan Glazer would drop by to turn in their latest essays; strong argument was prized. “This is where she learned how to write,” says Kolatch. Ravitch worked intermittently for The New Leader until 1967, when she took a part-time assignment from the nonprofit Carnegie Corporation to report on the city’s school system. Continue Reading »