North Carolina is heading down a destructive path for its public schools, according to education author, researcher and advocate Diane Ravitch.
Increasing charter schools, giving public schools letter grades, abolishing teacher tenure and piling on new standardized tests all moves that have been passed or proposed by the state legislature are false reforms that hurt kids and enrich corporations, Ravitch said in two speeches at UNC Charlotte.
Its an effort to turn public education into a profit-making venture, she said, and it wont be to the profit of the children.
Ravitch, author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System, came to Charlotte to give the lecture, a talk that focuses on major public issues. Ravitch, a former official in the U.S. Education Department, is a prominent critic of high-stakes testing and a business-driven approach to school reform.
The surge of new testing and the failing label that is likely to land on schools when the results come in will only benefit testing and technology companies, Ravitch said.
Local activists seized the opportunity to launch their own campaign against North Carolinas new testing system, which will bring 35 new tests this spring.
MecklenburgACTS, run by local parents and activists, and UnTEST, a new group created by UNCC students, joined Ravitch in urging audience members to resist overreliance on testing to rate teachers and schools.
What it comes down to is a handful of people with a huge amount of money versus the American people, Ravitch said. Parents are the sleeping giant, but when the students awaken, everything changes.
Ravitch said she was especially dismayed to read about a reform bill introduced this week by N.C. Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger.
Theres so many terrible things happening in your state that I feel like a fireman, she said, opening her afternoon talk to students and faculty.
But she praised Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Heath Morrison for taking a public stand against excessive testing.
These are people who stand up against the tests, she said. They actually care about teaching and learning.