April 22, 2010

Dorn reviews Ravitch

My review of Diane Ravitch's new book is now up at the Education Review website. I should have finished it a few weeks ago, but the fragmentation of my time this spring has interrupted all sorts of usually-short-term projects, such as book reviews.

If there is one benefit to the delay, it was my ability to watch the sales keep racking up while the book climbed several bestseller lists. At one level, I think, "I wish my book on the topic had sold a tenth as many copies!" But that's silly; I'm glad someone was able to meet the clear need for this book in a way that's been rewarded.

Bottom line of the review: read the book. In writing the review, I made the choice to skip much of the contemporary discussions around the book and focus on Ravitch's historical arguments. As usual (with Ravitch), she writes a highly appealing argument, and it's important to look at the claims dispassionately. I should say that I dearly wish she were correct in her claim that Lynne Cheney's attack on the voluntary national history standards in the 1990s was a primary cause of mediocre curriculum standards and our current policy obsession with high stakes testing. At the time (as a new scholar in the field) I was very upset with Cheney's distortions of the record, and at one level it is attractive to see her in the villain's role. But I think it's more complicated.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on April 22, 2010 8:44 AM |