Diane\'s Blog

Dick Sinay

Dr. Ravitch,

I read with great delight your recent book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. I learned a great deal and found the insights about the American school system to be incredible. In short, I loved the book, but at the same time, I am quite disturbed about what is going on with the attack on the public school system.

My kids went to public schools in Irvine, CA. One then graduated form UC Santa Barbara and one from Stanford. Public education served them well.

My wife taught for 40 years at the elementary level, and I taught 37 years at the high school level with 28 years part-time at the college level. We are both concerned educators.

I have come to the conclusion that Laurence Steinberg’s book Beyond the Classroom has it right about where the problem lies — in the home. In the book he convincing discusses the use of time by students in American society. I have seen it. My wife has seen it. It does not matter what school reform brings to the students if they are not ENGAGED. Getting students to buy into education is the biggest problem that educators face today. Too many of them have accepted mediocrity for their school work.

Moreover, you identify another major problem that contributes a great deal to the increasing demise of education in America, and that is early education. Early childhood education is paramount to the success of the school system. In my view, if Gates and the Billionaire Boys want to make good use of their money, they need to put it into early childhood education, and the education of parents of disadvantaged kids.

There is so much that I could say about the content of your book. I will leave it at this: so much of what you describe is quite disturbing. Charter schools replacing public schools, business people running education, a test focused educational system, punishment for teachers whose students score poorly on unreliable tests, ad infinitum.

Again, thank you for such a superbly researched book. I look forward to reading more of you work.

Best Regards,
Dick Sinay