Diane Ravitch wants to know what makes schools work. A historian of American education at New York University who served in the administration of the first President Bush, she defies easy ideological labeling with a clear head and open mind that insists on seeing what the data really tell us about testing, choice, charter schools and other fashionable reforms.
Ravitch will discuss The Death and Life of the Great American School System at Elmhurst College on September 10. Her talk is part of Elmhurst College’s Education in Crisis lecture series, a yearlong look at the significant challenges facing American education. Other speakers in the series will include veteran public school reformer Paul Vallas, urban theorist Richard Florida and Pulitzer-Prize winning author and historian Taylor Branch.
Education in Crisis lectures are part of a rich series of fall cultural events at Elmhurst. For educators, several of the lectures, including the Diane Ravitch event, will qualify for Continuing Professional Development Units (CPDUs). Forms will be available at each event that qualifies.
Ravitch is a prolific writer who has published more than 500 articles and reviews for scholarly and popular publications. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril. Drawing on her more than 40 years of research and experience, Ravitch critiques today’s most popular ideas for “fixing” public schools—privatization, standardized testing, punitive accountability for teachers and the charter school movement—and offers her prescription for improving them.
Ravitch also served as assistant secretary of education and counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander from 1991 to 1993, leading the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards.
In 2010, the National Education Association selected her as its “Friend of Education” for the year.
Ravitch’s talk will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 10, in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel. A book-signing will follow the lecture. Admission is $20 for the general public and free for Elmhurst College students, faculty, staff and alumni. Tickets are available online. For more information, call (630) 617-3390.