Fogelson Honors Forum speaker warns of dangers facing education system

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The John V. Roach Honors College welcomed Diane Ravitch as the guest speaker of the Fogelson Honors Forum to talk about the state of public education in America Thursday night.

Ravitch, the former assistant secretary of education, addressed the crowd in the Brown Lupton Ballroom. She spoke about the danger that public education is under and how standardized testing and charter schools pose as threats to the education system.

Ravitch said that state policies focus only on standardized tests, and that the government cares more about students doing well on tests than the students themselves.

“What matters most cannot be measured, especially not by a standardized test,” Ravitch said.

She said charter schools are detrimental because they only teach to the standardized test and judge students based off the national standard. There is no evidence that shows having a national standard leads to better test scores, Ravitch said.

Ravitch said the Race to the Top grant, created by the United States Education Department, is a hoax. The grant was used as a way to create more of the charter schools that Ravitch warns against.

Education is not a consumer good, she said, and people without a background in education shouldn’t be in charge of it.

“Race to the Top spent $5 billion to open more charter schools, to funnel more public money to entrepreneurs, to close thousands of public schools in mostly minority communities, to promote more teaching to the test and to force teachers to be judged by the test scores of their students,” Ravitch said.

Ravitch also went on to say that charter schools do the most harm in poor and racially segregated communities.

“They only encourage the rich to think there is a cheap solution that doesn’t involve higher taxes on the rich,” she said.

The last part of the forum was a question and answer segment where Ravitch answered questions from the crowd.

In one of her responses to she labeled for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix and DeVry University as threats.

“They prey on anyone they can prey on and offer them a quick and easy degree,” she said. “A lot of places won’t even recognize the degrees because they know it’s not a real college.”

Mary Ann Knight, a high school teacher who attended the forum, says she was excited about the message of the forum.

“Families, parents and students are becoming more and more aware of the standardized test culture,” Knight said. “Our kids are worth more than a score.”

Ravitch received a standing ovation from audience members as she walked off the stage.