Diane Ravitch on Higher Education Reforms

Education historian Diane Ravitch does not support President Obama’s new plans for higher education. Ravitch, who became famous promoting education standards and charter schools, believes that the president’s attempts to bring greater government oversight into higher education will prove troublesome.

According to a piece in Inside Higher Ed:

An increasing reliance on productivity and outcomes data will result in a generation of students who cannot learn or think for themselves, she warned. “The more we attempt to quantify what cannot be quantified, the more we narrow the purposes of higher education,” Ravitch said, calling on college presidents to stand up for academic freedom and resist the “accountability juggernaut.”

Ravitch is a critic of excessive use of standardized testing-based accountability and the “reform” movement in elementary and secondary schools, which she characterized (more or less accurately) as dominated by those who “believe that the schools can be improved by more testing, more punishment of educators, more charter schools, and strict adherence to free-market principles in relation to employees (teachers) and consumers (students)” and funded by “billionaire equity investors and hedge fund managers.”

Obama’s latest reform plans will punish or reward colleges with federal financial aid based on their efforts (and success) in improving college affordability.

Ravitch is a professor of education at New York University. Undergraduate tuition at NYU is $39,344 a year. The average student leaves NYU $35,000 in debt.

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer