The Death and Life of the Great American School System Book Summary - The Death and Life of the Great American School System Book explained in key points

The Death and Life of the Great American School System summary

Diane Ravitch

Brief summary

The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch is a thought-provoking book that critiques the education reform movement and advocates for a return to traditional, community-based schooling.

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    The Death and Life of the Great American School System
    Summary of key ideas

    Revisiting the American Education System

    In The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Diane Ravitch, a former advocate of education reform, takes a critical look at the current state of the American education system. She begins by recounting her earlier support for policies such as standardized testing, charter schools, and school choice, which she believed would improve the quality of education. However, after observing their implementation and impact, she has a change of heart.

    Ravitch argues that these policies have not only failed to deliver on their promises but have also caused significant harm to the public education system. She points out that the emphasis on standardized testing has led to a narrow curriculum, teaching to the test, and a culture of teaching to the lowest common denominator. This, she believes, has stifled creativity and critical thinking in students.

    The Rise of Charter Schools

    Ravitch then delves into the rise of charter schools, which were initially intended to be laboratories of innovation within the public school system. However, she argues that they have instead become a parallel system that drains resources from traditional public schools, exacerbating existing inequalities. She highlights the lack of accountability and oversight in many charter schools, leading to instances of fraud, mismanagement, and poor academic performance.

    Furthermore, Ravitch criticizes the idea of school choice, arguing that it has not resulted in improved educational outcomes. Instead, it has led to increased segregation, with more affluent families opting for charter or private schools, leaving behind those who cannot afford to exercise this choice.

    The Business Model in Education

    Ravitch also takes aim at the application of business principles to education, a trend she believes has been detrimental. She argues that the market-based approach, with its focus on competition, accountability, and incentives, is not suitable for the complex and multifaceted nature of education. She contends that schools are not businesses and should not be run as such, as they serve a broader societal purpose beyond profit.

    Moreover, she criticizes the influence of philanthropists and corporate interests in shaping education policy, arguing that their well-intentioned but misguided efforts have led to a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach that disregards the expertise of educators and the unique needs of students.

    Prescriptions for Improvement

    In the latter part of the book, Ravitch offers her prescriptions for improving the American education system. She advocates for a more holistic approach to education, one that values a broad and rich curriculum, encourages teacher professionalism, and addresses the social and economic factors that affect student learning.

    She calls for a renewed focus on equity, increased investment in public schools, and a shift away from punitive accountability measures. She also emphasizes the importance of parental involvement, early childhood education, and wraparound services to support students' overall well-being.

    Conclusion: A Call for Change

    In conclusion, The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a powerful critique of the current direction of education reform in the United States. Ravitch's journey from advocate to critic provides a unique perspective on the unintended consequences of well-intentioned policies. She urges policymakers, educators, and the public to reevaluate their approach to education and work towards a system that serves all students equitably and effectively.

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    What is The Death and Life of the Great American School System about?

    The Death and Life of the Great American School System by Diane Ravitch is a thought-provoking book that challenges the current education reform movement in the United States. Ravitch draws on her expertise and research to argue against policies such as standardized testing, charter schools, and privatization, offering alternative solutions to improve the quality of education for all students.

    The Death and Life of the Great American School System Review

    The Death and Life of the Great American School System (2010) explores the flawed educational policies and reforms that have shaped the American school system. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With in-depth research and analysis, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by the American education system.
    • Through compelling arguments and thought-provoking examples, it challenges prevailing notions about educational reform and offers alternative perspectives.
    • By examining the impact of policies on students, teachers, and communities, it sheds light on the consequences of educational decision-making.

    Who should read The Death and Life of the Great American School System?

    • Education professionals, including teachers, administrators, and policymakers
    • Parents and guardians looking to understand the challenges and complexities of the American education system
    • Those interested in the history and evolution of education reform in the United States

    About the Author

    Diane Ravitch is a renowned historian of education and a prolific author. Throughout her career, she has held various influential positions, including serving as the Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush. Ravitch has written numerous books on education policy, advocating for public schools and critiquing the impact of standardized testing and privatization. Some of her other notable works include Reign of Error and The Language Police.

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    The Death and Life of the Great American School System FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Death and Life of the Great American School System?

    The main message of The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a critical examination of education reform efforts and the influence of market forces on American schools.

    How long does it take to read The Death and Life of the Great American School System?

    The reading time for The Death and Life of the Great American School System varies depending on the reader, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Death and Life of the Great American School System a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Death and Life of the Great American School System is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in education policy. It offers a thorough analysis and thought-provoking insights.

    Who is the author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System?

    The author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System is Diane Ravitch.

    What to read after The Death and Life of the Great American School System?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Death and Life of the Great American School System, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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