Internationally known scholar and commentator on education, Dr. Diane Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education, will present a lecture in the CSI Center for the Arts Williamson Theatre on Wednesday, March 3 from 4:30pm to 7:00pm. Dr. Ravitch will discuss the recent shift in her public statements regarding state testing, charter schools, and national standards. She now is critical when previously she was supportive. Dr. Ravitch will share her proposed solutions to the problems of U.S. public education, and will also conduct a book signing at the event.

“We are thrilled that Dr. Ravitch is coming to CSI,” said Dr. Kenneth Gold, College of Staten Island Chairperson and Associate Professor of Education, who added, “She is a leading historian of education, a staunch advocate for academic standards, and a vocal and eloquent critic of current NYC Department of Education policies. So her presence is appropriate for our programs, which aim to develop professional responsibility and intellectual autonomy. Her policy positions and her courage to publish and publicly speak about them exemplify these dispositions. We look forward to hearing her ideas about schools, teaching, and learning.”

Despite aggressive reforms currently being imposed by officials at the federal, state, and local levels, students in the U.S. are graduating from public schools without gaining the knowledge, skills, and ideas they need to succeed in today’s world. In The Death and Life of the Great American School System (to be released on March 2, 2010) Dr. Ravitch rejects some of her own long-held beliefs about school reform and offers a roadmap for getting our schools back on track.

In the book, Dr. Ravitch draws on over 40 years of research and experience to critique today’s most popular ideas for restructuring schools. Using examples from major cities like New York; Denver; Boston; Washington, DC; Philadelphia; Chicago; and San Diego, she maintains that public education is in dire peril because of misguided “reforms.” Ravitch argues against school privatization; cautions about the misuse of test scores to evaluate teachers, students, and schools; and warns about the folly of turning control of public education over to businessmen, philanthropists, and politicians. In each instance she explains why these initiatives have failed to improve public education, and in some cases have been quite harmful.

In her talk Dr. Ravitch will address:

-Why the Bush administration’s “No Child Left Behind” and the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” programs fail to address the root problems in public education
-Why curriculum is so important for students across geographic and economic backgrounds, and why a coherent curriculum—whether national, state, or local—is crucial for our future
-Why testing and accountability should be used to help schools, not to close them
-Why charter schools and vouchers are not the sure-fire solutions that their proponents would have us believe
-What parents can do to ensure that their children are receiving the best education possible

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a distinguished historian of U.S. education. She is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. From 1991 to 1993, she was Assistant Secretary of Education and Counselor to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in the administration of President George H.W. Bush. Ravitch was appointed to the National Assessment Governing Board by the Clinton administration. She blogs for and She is the author or editor of over 20 books, and her articles have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. A native of Houston, Dr. Ravitch lives in Brooklyn, NY.