My rating: 3 of 5 stars
One of the largest on-going problems in this country is how to fix the issue of education. By many, our education system is considered to have many flaws. Here, Diane Ravitch recognizes these flaws and provides the backstory and solutions to them in her book Reign of Error. She explores many common myths, such as “The nation has a dropout crisis”, and then proceeds to debunk them with solid evidence from many statistics. After that, she provides us with probable solutions to many of the problems that are happening today in the country. I agree with many of these solutions, but most of them are only a dream to fixing our education. Diane’s hard-hitting propositions to correct our education dilemma all have smart intentions, but many of them do not consider the fact that drastically changing America is an extremely tough task.
One of the topics that is constantly debated is whether to invest loads of money to help all students in America to finish college. If we have the highest college graduation rate in the world, then more people would be making money, which in turn leads to more jobs, better lives, and a healthier country. However, going through college always includes the hassle of returning the used money that made it possible for you to finish. “Students should not leave college burdened by tens of thousands of dollars of debt”(87). Ravitch offers an obvious statement, but there’s a problem that lies behind it. Many students who finish high school don’t apply to college due to the heavy costs and debt that accumulate over time. “College graduates on average earn more money than high school graduates, [and they] have a lower unemployment rate than those with less education”(84). So, is fixing our education as easy as that? Just get more students to college? Ravitch describes college as “worth pursuing”(90), but she doesn’t take into account how much money it would take to allow all students to attend college, especially for those who are considered to be in poverty. They are the lower minority of students in grades and potential, but that’s only due to their inability to access higher education. The solution that Ravitch proposes needs a lot money, and since her method is simply to get people to college, she does not recognize the effort that the government or local communities must take in order to achieve this. In fact, that amount of effort would actually hurt America through the extensive costs and energy required to get more poor students the chance of a higher education.
Next up, the fact that test scores are falling and hurting our overall educational system is out-proven by Ravitch to be absolutely false. She used results from the National Assessment of educational Progress (NAEP) to provide solid data that shows rising scores for whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians in both reading and mathematics. From this data she concludes that all of this “progress [comes from] the educators [and their] important work”(54). All of the data that she gives shows that the scores of all major races improved in two subjects, which signals growth in our educational system. All of the students in our system are improving, but it doesn’t prove anything about whether we’re improving as a country. Diane’s main point throughout the book is that fixing the problems in our education will hopefully lead to a better America. She claims that “test scores are not the only way to measure education, but to the extent that they matter, they are improving”(53). The test scores here don’t prove anything in the larger picture, but they do prove that we are making some sort of gains in our education. Every single year, the children are getting smarter with positive results from these test, but are these improvements actually going to help us and the children in the long run? Probably not because issues like poverty overpower any of these little gains in test scores.
Finally, the achievement gap is something that is prevalent throughout any society due to many issues. Any strategy to fix this would have to “address the problems of poverty, unemployment, racial isolation, and mass incarceration”(61). All of these issues are huge in our educational system, and all of these problems all link back to the proper education in one’s youth. Without this, it’s impossible to get anywhere in life. Because a proper learning experience is needed, “schools are part of the solution, [but] they alone cannot solve the problem of educational disparities” (60). As a matter of fact, nothing can completely close the achievement gap. Advantages and disadvantages between students are bound to happen as they are in any type of setting. Ravitch’s point that fixing schools and the poverty that’s intertwined with it is powerful, but yet again is it worth it to do so? Our next generation is made up of all the students that we have now, and without a proper education for them to have, we would all be doomed. However, linking back to a previous idea, spending a lot of money to fix these issues would actually hurt us, and they’re not guaranteed to work. Poverty can spring back as it’s bound to happen, and schools can deteriorate over time. The achievement gap is almost unsolvable, and as Diane Ravitch says, “there will always be achievement gaps”(62).
The book Reign of Error by Diane Ravitch addresses all the important virtues and ideas that make up the definition of our current state with education. None of the solutions that she provides is completely possible or helpful, but they all give insight to the problems that plague us today. Education is a topic that many dismiss due to its complexity within its root causes, but Diane Ravitch tackles it with solid proof that contributes possible solutions to the hardest-hitting of problems. ~ Student: Keith W.