No Madrasas Here


Diane Ravitch on why she flipped and started loving public schools again:

Was there a moment where you first thought: “Uh-oh”?

There were a number of moments, really, scenes of doubt. But one of
them came about because of research I’d been asked to do about
higher-education standards in Pakistan. What I discovered was that
higher education wasn’t the issue. The issue was that they have
virtually no public-education system. So that gave me pause, because
here I was running with people that were saying that public education is
the problem.

Do you think there was something about looking at familiar issues
in a foreign context that freed you up to see things differently?

Maybe. You know, here is a country that has a completely inadequate
public-school system: So many of the kids that do go to school are in
madrasas, and girls are not going to school at all. It made me think
about the origins of American public education. I’d written about the
history of the New York public schools and read lots of other histories
of schooling, and it used to be that there was this hodgepodge of
optionsprivate tutors and church schools and so forth.
Those who had some resources could take care of their kids, and those
who had none–well, their kids didn’t get an education. So there was
something that resonated for me. The more we turn kids over to the
private sector and erode public education, the more we’re going back to
pre-public-school times, and those were not good times for education in
this nation.