Ravitch on Education Policy

The Times has an interesting story on Diane Ravitch’s abandonment of many strategies for improving education associated with “conservatives.” I support some of these strategies, like trying to inject markets and competition into the educational system, and oppose others, like national standardized testing, which I suspect may raise the lowest common denominator, but be the enemy of excellence.

Anyway, one paragraph in the story, explaining why Ravitch has come to oppose school choice and charter schools, really stood out: “In 2005, she said, a study she undertook of Pakistan’s weak and inequitable education system, dominated by private and religious institutions, convinced her that protecting the United States’ public schools was important to democracy.”

I’m torn between “Really?” and “Huh?”

(I’m suggesting that Pakistan is so dissimilar to the U.S. in so many ways that it’s hard to believe that a study of Pakistan’s educational system could lead an eminent scholar like Ravitch to draw any meaningful conclusions about the U.S. system. Also, there are many other countries far more similar to the U.S. that have much more diverse educational systems than is common here, without obvious apparent damage to democracy. Why focus on Pakistan, of all places?)