World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Diane Ravitch

Article Id: WHEBN0000334171
Reproduction Date:

Title: Diane Ravitch  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: School of education, Charter schools in the United States, Multicultural particularism, Breakthrough Collaborative, Race to Nowhere
Collection: 1938 Births, American Academics, American Education Writers, American Educators, American Historians of Education, American Political Writers, Clinton Administration Personnel, Columbia University Alumni, George H. W. Bush Administration Personnel, Grawemeyer Award Winners, Guggenheim Fellows, Jewish American Writers, Living People, New York University Faculty, People from Brooklyn, People from Houston, Texas, Reed College Alumni, San Jacinto High School Alumni, Scholars of American Education, Teachers College, Columbia University Alumni, The Huffington Post Writers and Columnists, Wellesley College Alumni
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch
Born Diane Silvers
(1938-07-01) July 1, 1938
Houston, Texas
Residence Southold, New York
Nationality United States
Education Wellesley College, B.A., 1960
Columbia University, Ph.D., 1975
Employer Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development (NYU)
Religion Jewish
Parent(s) Walter Cracker Silvers (businessperson)
Ann Celia (Katz) Silvers (businessperson)
Awards See awards section
Website .com.dianeravitchwww

Diane Silvers Ravitch (born July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Previously, she was a U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
  • Writings and statements on education 3
  • Published works 4
    • Books 4.1
  • Awards 5
    • Honorary degrees 5.1
    • Other 5.2
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life and education

Ravitch was born into a Jewish family[6] in 1938 in Houston, Texas, where she went to public schools from kindergarten through high school graduation. She is one of eight children. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, has a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She married Richard Ravitch (who later served as Lieutenant Governor of New York) in 1960 and they divorced in 1986. They have two sons; a third son died of leukemia at the age of 2.[7]

Ravitch lives in Southold, New York. Her longtime companion is Mary Butz, a retired New York City public school principal who also administered a progressive principal-training program.[6]


Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at the New Leader magazine, a small journal devoted to democratic ideas. In 1975, she became a historian of education with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At that time she worked closely with Teachers College president Lawrence A. Cremin, who was her mentor.

She was appointed to public office by Presidents Bill Clinton. She served as Assistant Secretary of Education under Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander from 1991 to 1993 and his successor Richard Riley appointed her to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress; she was a member of NAGB from 1997 to 2004. From 1995 to 2005 she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution[8]

She participated in a "blog debate" called "Bridging Differences" with Steinhardt School colleague Deborah Meier on the website of Education Week from February 26, 2007 until September 2012.[9][10] She now has her own blog, Diane Ravitch's Blog.[11]

Writings and statements on education

Ravitch renounced her earlier support for testing and choice in 2010, in a best-selling book. She critiqued the punitive uses of accountability to fire teachers and close schools, as well as replacing public schools with charter schools and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education (2010). In the book Ravitch sharply broke with policies she had formerly espoused[7] and the book became a surprise best seller a month after its release. One reviewer wrote "Ravitch exhibits an interesting mix of support for public education and the rights of teachers to bargain collectively with a tough-mindedness that some on the pedagogical left lack."[12]

While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, Ravitch later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." On her blog, she often cited low-performing charters, frauds, corruption, incompetent charter operators, exclusionary policies practiced by charters, and other poor results that diverted funding from public schools into private hands. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers."[13]

Ravitch said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by billionaires and "right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation," for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers' unions.[14] She reviewed the documentary Waiting for Superman, directed by Davis Guggenheim, as "propagandistic" (pro-charter schools and anti-public schools), studded with "myths" and at least one "flatly wrong" claim.[15] Of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's Race to the Top program, Ravitch said in a 2011 interview it "is an extension of No Child Left Behind ...[,] all bad ideas." She concluded "We are destroying our education system, blowing it up by these stupid policies. And handing the schools in low-income neighborhoods over to private entrepreneurs does not, in itself, improve them. There's plenty of evidence by now that the kids in those schools do no better, and it's simply a way of avoiding their - the public responsibility to provide good education."[16]

Her book The Language Police (2003) was a criticism of both left-wing and right-wing attempts to stifle the study and expression of views deemed unworthy by those groups. The review summarizes Ravitch's thesis as "pressure groups from the political right and left have wrested control of the language and content of textbooks and standardized exams, often at the expense of the truth (in the case of history), of literary quality (in the case of literature), and of education in general."[17] Publishers Weekly wrote: "Ravitch contends that these sanitized materials sacrifice literary quality and historical accuracy in order to escape controversy."[18]

Ravitch's writings on racial and cultural diversity were summarized by sociologist Vincent N. Parrillo:

[Ravitch] emphasized a common culture but one that incorporated the contributions of all racial and ethnic groups so that they can believe in their full membership in America’s past, present, and future. She envisioned elimination of allegiance to any specific racial and/or ethnic group, with emphasis instead on our common humanity, our shared national identity, and our individual accomplishments.[19]

Ravitch's first book The Great School Wars (1974) is a history of New York City public schools. It described alternating eras of centralization and decentralization. It also tied periodic controversies over public education to periodic waves of immigration.[7]

Published works


  • The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805-1973 (1974, reissued 1988, 2000) ISBN 0-8018-6471-2
  • The Revisionists Revised: A Critique of the Radical Attack on the Schools (1978) ISBN 0-465-06943-6
  • Schools in Cities: Consensus and Conflict in American Educational History (1983) ISBN 0-8419-0850-8
  • Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools (1984) ISBN 0-8419-0944-X
  • Challenges to the Humanities (1985) ISBN 0-8419-1017-0
  • The Schools We Deserve (1985) ISBN 0-465-07236-4
  • The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (1985) ISBN 0-465-08757-4
  • What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know: A Report on the First National Assessment of History and Literature (1989) ISBN 0-06-015849-2
  • The American Reader : Words That Moved a Nation (1990) ISBN 0-06-016480-8
  • National Standards in American Education: A Consumer's Guide (1995) ISBN 0-8157-7352-8
  • New Schools for a New Century: The Redesign of Urban Education (1997) ISBN 0-300-07874-9
  • City Schools: Lessons from New York (2000) ISBN 0-8018-6341-4
  • Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000) ISBN 0-684-84417-6
  • Kid Stuff: Marketing Sex and Violence to America's Children (2003) ISBN 0-8018-7327-4
  • Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society (2003) ISBN 0-300-09917-7
  • The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) ISBN 0-375-41482-7
  • Forgotten Heroes of American Education: The Great Tradition of Teaching Teachers (2006) ISBN 1-59311-448-6
  • The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (2006) ISBN 0-19-507729-6
  • EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (2007) ISBN 978-1-4166-0575-1
  • The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) ISBN 978-0-465-01491-0
  • Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools (2013) ISBN 978-0385350884

Ravitch has published more than 500 articles in scholarly and popular journals.


Delta Kappa Gamma Educators' Award
1975, for The Great School Wars, New York City, 1805-1973
1984, for The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945- 1980
2011, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Award of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences
Ambassador of Honor Award, English-Speaking Union,
1984, for The Troubled Crusade
1985, for The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crises of Our Times

Honorary degrees

Amherst College
Middlebury College Language Schools
Ramapo College
Reed College
Saint Joseph's College (New York)
Siena College
State University of New York
Union College
Williams College[20]


  • Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar, 1984–85
  • Henry Allen Moe Prize, American Philosophical Society, 1986
  • designated honorary citizen, State of California Senate Rules Committee, 1988, for work on state curriculum
  • Alumnae Achievement Award, Wellesley College, 1989
  • Medal of Distinction, Polish National Council of Education, 1991
  • Literary Lion, New York Public Library, 1992
  • Award for Distinguished Service, New York Academy of Public Education, 1994
  • Horace Kidger Award, New England History Teachers Association, 1998
  • Award of Excellence, St. John's University School of Education, 1998
  • John Dewey Education Award, United Federation of Teachers, 2005[20]
  • Guggenheim fellowship, 1977[21]
  • Honorary Life Trustee, New York Public Library
  • John Dewey Award, United Federation of Teachers, New York City, 2005
  • Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute, 2005[20]
  • Uncommon Book Award, Hoover Institution, 2005[20]
  • NEA Friend of Education, 2010
  • American Association of School Administrators, American Education Award, 2011
  • Outstanding Friend of Education Award, Horace Mann League, 2011
  • Distinguished Service Award, National Association of Secondary School Principals, 2011
  • The Deborah W. Meier Hero in Education Award from FairTest, 2011
  • Politico 50, one of the 50 people whose ideas are shaping our society, 2014

Grawemeyer Award in Education for Death and Life of the Great American School System, 2014

See also


  1. ^ Contemporary Authors Online. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-05-16. Document Number: H1000081288.
  2. ^ Topek, Joseph S. (November 11, 1991). "Reflections on CUNY's Jeffries and the Jews" (PDF). Statesman 35 (20) ( 
  3. ^ Green, Elizabeth (1 July 2008). "Happy Birthday Diane Ravitch".  
  4. ^ "The Albert Shanker Institute - Board of Directors". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Gaudium Award 2005 - The Breukelein Institute". Retrieved 2009-05-16. Gaudium Award 2005 
  6. ^ a b Goldstein, Dana (June 24, 2011). "Diane Ravitch, the Anti-Rhee".  
  7. ^ a b c Carey, Kevin (23 Nov 2011). "The Dissenter". New Republic. 
  8. ^ Ken Lovett (May 28, 2014). "Working Families Party eyeing Diane Ravitch as possible challenger against Gov. Cuomo". NY Daily News. Retrieved May 28, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Bridging Differences". 
  10. ^ Ravitch, Diane (11 Sep 2012). "We Bridged Our Differences". 
  11. ^ "Diane Ravitch's Blog". 
  12. ^ Kahlenberg, Richard (March–April 2010). "Re-education: Conservative education scholar Diane Ravitch returns to her liberal roots". The Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  13. ^ Ravitch, Diane (9 March 2010). "Why I Changed My Mind About School Reform". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  14. ^ WNYC, The Leonard Lopate Show, State of Education, interview with Diane Ravitch, May 25, 2010
  15. ^ Ravitch, Diane, "The Myth of Charter Schools", The New York Review of Books, November 11, 2010. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  16. ^ Interview with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, NPR, April 28, 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  17. ^ Tropea, Silvana. " Review: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn: Diane Ravitch:". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  18. ^ "The Language Police, Vintage Ser., Diane Ravitch, Book - Barnes & Noble". Retrieved 2009-05-16. ??
  19. ^ Parrillo, Vincent N. (2009). Diversity in America (3 ed.). Sage Publications. p. 157. 
  20. ^ a b c d "Faculty: Diane Ravitch".  
  21. ^ "Diane S. Ravitch".  

External links

  • Diane Ravitch official website
  •   (Review of Language Police)
  • Helfand, Duke (April 26, 2003). "Textbooks Distort History, Critic Says".  
  • Diane Ravitch: No Child Left Behind Has Left US Schools with Legacy of "Institutionalized Fraud" — video by Democracy Now!
  • Waiting for Superman: Fact or Fiction? BAM! Radio podcast discussion.
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
    • , October 8, 2000.Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms interview with Ravitch on Booknotes
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.