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Full Name Comment goes here. In my book, I am very critical of an important movement in this century, to divide kids up, and give some of them a good education and others something less. Diane Ravitch: Good parents are deeply concerned about their children, and in public schools we have to take care of all children, including those whose parents are not so involved.
The schools must let parents know they are partners in education. One of the stories in my book is about how schools believed for a long time that they should keep parents uninvolved. Diane Ravitch: Well, I believe parents have the right to home school, but their children have to take the same tests as others do, so that a minority does not abuse the privilege and harm their children.
Question from Deb What will education in the next century look like, with the problems of high dropout rates, English as a second language ESL issues and poor attendance? Educating the masses is becoming harder and harder.
I always liked the Jefferson quote you used in your book, "Education is the great equalizer," but these days it seems there is little student accountability taken. What will the future of American education look like in your opinion?
Diane Ravitch: Because of globalization and changes in the economy, we have no choice other than to educate everybody to a much higher level than we have ever done in the past. ESL students must learn English rapidly, and we must expect children to learn more and sooner.
Question from Tchrhubby: My college friends from Korea are very intelligent. They go to school year round. My wife has to reteach her kids after a long summer break. Is year round a good idea? Diane Ravitch: I think that kids need a vacation, and even year-round school includes vacations, but they are taken at different times of the year, not just summer.
Some nations, including Korea, have schooling for to days per year. Our schools are days per year. But the difference in time is not nearly as important as differences in attitudes and willingness on the part of students to take their work seriously. Even in a school year of days, a lot of time is wasted. Chat Moderator: How would you rate the overall quality of teacher education in today's universities?
Diane Ravitch: Teacher education is a serious problem in the United States. Too many people become teachers without knowledge of the subject they will teach. A recent study shows, for example, that most people who teach history have not studied history. There are also many people teaching math and science who don't know enough math and science. We really must improve the teacher preparation so that people who become teachers have good classroom skills but also solid knowledge to teach.
Question from FL: How can a parent begin reform outside the "system"?
I have found the committees in place within the system that are supposed to improve things, end up being a waste of my time. Diane Ravitch: Well, the first thing a parent should do is read to his or her own children and turn them into readers.
Talk to other parents and get organized. Create a parent organization to make demands on the system. Sometimes organizations that already exist are not very proactive. Question from Dysmother: What about dyslexic kids? I have to send my child to a very expensive private school because the public school system does not provide the education for her. I am not eligible for the voucher program, because she has not "failed" in the public school program. I live in Florida. What is the answer for kids with special needs? Diane Ravitch: There are very extensive legal protections for children with special needs.
There are elaborate mandates from the federal government that require public schools to pay for the education of children like your own. In many states children with special needs attend private schools with public funds. In fact, the U.
Supreme Court several years ago said that states must pay for private education when the public schools are unable to meet the needs of these children. This is, in fact, very much like a voucher system for children with special needs. Question from Deb Why is it the responsibility of the schools to increase student attendance? Shouldn't parents be accountable? Diane Ravitch: Yes, of course parents should be accountable, but schools are legal authorities and attendance at schools is mandatory.
So both schools and parents are responsible for school attendance. Diane Ravitch: I think that the idea of charter schools is very interesting. In many states, charter schools offer parents a valuable alternative. Some charter schools are excellent. Some are not very good. Parents must be sure to visit whatever school they are considering, public or charter, and ask for information from the school to see how the students are doing. But the good thing about charters is that they offer parents a choice. Diane Ravitch: There are now 40 states that permit the creation of public charter schools.
A charter school is a public school that is not part of any school district.