The take on our friend (and board co-chair) Diane Ravitch’s latest book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, is that it is all about how she changed her mind about reform ideas such as choice and charters. But there’s another storyline embedded deeply throughout the book, and it’s not about what has failed, but what would work: a comprehensive, content-rich curriculum for all students.
This week Diane spoke before 10,000 teachers at the NEA convention. And at least twice during her speech she talked about the need for every student’s education to include not just basic skills but also…and here she began listing the subject that comprise a complete education: the arts, history, geography, civics, foreign languages, mathematics, science, physical education, and health.
But she could never complete the list because, as Diane explains, “they were applauding so loud that I never finished the sentence. This happened each time I enumerated the subjects that were sacrificed to high stakes testing and test prep. I would start naming the subjects and the applause grew and grew and no one heard me mention physical education and health because of the din of applause.”
I wonder if they were applauding loud enough for Arne to hear. Because, despite talk about wanting to address the narrowing of the curriculum, the only policies his Dept of Ed has proposed would narrow it more…