The Washington Post

Why Obama’s leading education critic will vote for him


(Pablo Martinez Monsivais–Associated Press)

For the past several years education historian Diane Ravitch has been the leading critic of President Obama’s school reform policies. A former assistant secretary of education in the administration of former President George H.W. Bush, and an early supporter of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind law, she changed her views on what makes schools work after looking at the evidence, and has been the leading voice in the movement against standardized test-based schooling and assessment.

She has published the best-selling book “The Death and Life of the Great American System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education,” as well as a constant stream of articles in various publications, including the New York Review of Books, and blogposts on various sites, including her own new blog. And she travels the country meeting with teachers, administrators and others to talk about the damage that No Child Left Behind and Obama’s Race to the Top have done to the public education system.

But Ravitch has decided to vote for Obama, and she explains why in a post she wrote for CNN, which says:

“As bad as the Obama education policies are, they are tolerable in comparison to what Mitt Romney plans.”

Ravitch has pulled no punches in critiquing the education policies of Obama and his education secretary, Arne Duncan. For example, last January, in this blogpost, she wrote:

“I don’t know about you, but I am growing convinced that President Barack Obama doesn’t know what Race to the Top is. I don’t think he really understands what his own administration is doing to education.


In September, she wrote this blogpost that is actually a speech she wished Obama would give to teachers. It said in part: “

I know you have been disappointed in my approach to education. I know that teacher morale is at a low ebb. I know there is far too much pressure to teach to the test. That degrades the joy of learning. I know that most of that pressure comes from mistakes we made when we launched a ‘Race to the Top.’ I know now we were wrong.

Indeed, polls show that teachers are more demoralized than ever, with many criticizing Obama’s education policies, including his administration’s push for evaluation systems that educators say are unfair. Some teachers and principals have said they won’t vote for either Obama or Romney.

But Ravitch says that if Romney is elected, the privatization of public education which has gained steam under the Obama administration will get out of control. Romney will “dismantle” the teaching profession and “devastate” public schools, she writes, but there’s more at stake than ever that.

Ravitch raises the country’s biggest shame: that some 22 percent of America’s children live in poverty, a problem that requires the kind of government action that Romney opposes.

There’s more, which you can read in full here.


Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Valerie Strauss · October 29, 2012

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.