Professor Diane Ravitch today addressed the NSW Teachers Federation Annual Conference warning Australia not to repeat the mistakes that the United States had made in implementing market-based reforms to the education system.
Professor Ravitch is a leading American educator, a Research Professor of Education at New York University and a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She was Assistant Secretary of Education in the administration of President George H W Bush. During the Clinton administration, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the federal testing program.
She is the author of: “The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education” (2010).
Professor Ravitch has first hand knowledge of the impact of the various philosophies and techniques that have swept across the education landscape in America such as high stakes testing, choice and accountability.
She warned the conference of the folly of repeating the mistakes of the United States. She expressed surprise that Australia would look to America for ideas in education pointing out that Australia’s international test scores were consistently better than those obtained by students in American schools.
She listed a number of so called reforms that have failed to produce better results. These include high stakes testing, merit pay, school closures and privatisation. None of these ideas are used in the countries producing the best results in international tests.
Professor Ravitch described recent events in the United States where ultra-conservative “Tea Party” governors have introduced laws attacking the bargaining rights of public sector employees, cutting pay and conditions and imposing radical cuts to education funding.