Kevin Carey, policy director of Education Sector, a non-partisan think tank, lays into Ravitch:

The problem with "I was wrong about everything" as the prelude to an argument is that it doesn't exactly inspire confidence in the repudiator's judgment. And, in this case, the book simply trades one pre-defined agenda for another: the collected talking points of the reactionary education establishment. It is a philosophy of resentment and futility, grounded in the conviction that public schools--and the adults within them--can't really be expected to do better than they currently are.

In the end, Death and Life is painfully short on non-curricular ideas that might actually improve education for those who need it most. The last few pages contain nothing but generalities: "We must encourage schools to use measures of educational accomplishment that are appropriate to the subjects studied." "When schools are struggling, the authorities should do whatever is necessary to improve them." "Teachers must be well educated and know their subjects." That's all on page 238. The complete lack of engagement with how to do these things is striking.

Ravitch returns fire. The last thing we need in this culture, I believe, is a resistance to saying 'I was wrong." Or a denigration of those who do so.

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