CONGRATULATIONS & THANK YOU to Dr. Ravitch for her tireless pursuit of  truth and common sense in her advocacy for public education, and for being an inspiration to all of us who are also trying  to bring the voices of parents, teachers and reason to the conversation and direction of public education, as we challenge the onslaught of privatizing forces whose reforms are doing more harm than good to our children, their teachers and their schools. — sue peters

Diane Ravitch Wins the 2011 Moynihan Prize

by Leonie Haimson, the Huffington Post

Diane Ravitch was just selected as the 2011 recipient of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize, created by the American Academy of Political and Social Science to honor those individuals whose careers in the academic or public arena have been dedicated to the use of social science research to improve public policy. The $20,000 prize was awarded in recognition of her long career of distinguished work on urban education as a researcher and public official.

Ravitch is a true public intellectual, someone who is fully engaged and committed towards ensuring that local, state, and federal education policy is informed by history, social science research and good sense. She has also passionately advocated for the parent and teacher voice to be recognized in the national debate over education reform. I can’t think of anyone else in the field of public policy who is more esteemed, or who has made more of a contribution to the wider understanding of the history of public education and what should be done to ensure that all children receive a quality education.

Over the past few years, she has tirelessly written and traveled the country, cogently and persuasively arguing that the current craze for privatization and high-stakes accountability is neither research-based nor an effective means to improve our public school system. Rather, she has pointed out how the imposition of these policies will further degrade opportunities for children, particularly the most disadvantaged students who reside in inner cities and other high-needs areas.

If it is indeed true that education is the civil rights issue of our generation, Ravitch is one of our most esteemed leaders in the struggle for the right of all children, no matter where they attend school, to be provided with a well-rounded and rich curriculum, high standards, small classes and experienced teachers.

As John Dewey once wrote, “what the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children.” Through her eloquence, vision, and scholarship, Diane has passionately and convincingly argued that our public school system should be strengthened — rather than undermined — so that it can provide for all the nation’s children the kind of education that the best and wisest parent wants for his or her own child.

I cannot imagine a more deserving candidate for this award. Like Daniel Patrick Moynihan himself, Diane’s vision is entirely non-partisan, transcends ideology, and is based on the best evidence and scholarship, as opposed to the latest political fads or fancies. Her immense courage and honesty has impelled her to speak truth to power, whereas lesser individuals would keep quiet or repeat the delivered wisdom.

More personally, Diane has been a mentor and a friend to me, as well as an inspiration, in times when I feel overwhelmed by the immense power and money of the oligarchy that has come to control education policy in this country.

She will receive the prize at an award ceremony in New York on June 2, 2011.

from’s “Best of 2010.”

Diane Ravitch

She believed in the system. Until the system failed. That’s when Diane Ravitch — the Bush administration’s former assistant secretary of education and the former advocate of No Child Left Behind — did something radical. She changed her mind. Armed with a wealth of firsthand experience in the trenches, she became a fierce voice for our beleaguered public school system.

This year she released her blistering indictment of the culture of testing, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System.” And she has strenuously, tirelessly continued to explain how the deeply entrenched problems in public schools are not going to be fixed by artificially inflating test scores, a slash and burn, fire all the teachers strategy, or abandoning the public system in favor of those deep-pocketed charter schools.

And when that feel-good advertorial for charter schools, “Waiting for Superman,” came out, she took filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, a private school alum and parent, to task for the “propagandist nature” of his documentary and use of “misleading” data.

She has asked, again and again, what happens when we turn over the education of our children to private business, and she has been one of the most eloquent voices in the discourse over Obama’s horrifically misguided “Race to the Top.” In short, the woman who helped create the culture of competition — and assessing children, teachers and schools based on numbers on a sheet — has done exactly what we wish for our kids: She’s learned something. And she’s trying to give all our children a fair shot at doing likewise.