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Listen to Ravitch, Alter talk past each other

It’s billed as a debate, but the 35-minute session featuring Diane Ravitch and Jonathan Alter Wednesday on a local talk show was more two people filibustering than anything resembling a true give-and-take. Host David Sirota didn’t pretend to be a disinterested third party, coming down, as one would expect, firmly on Ravitch’s side. Listen to it here. (Thanks to GothamSchools)

Still, having the two on his program was a coup of sorts. The dust-up between them began when Ravitch wrote an op-ed last week in the New York Times, in which she questioned the “miracle” mythology around certain schools, including Denver’s Bruce Randolph. Alter, a long-time Newsweek correspondent who now writes for Bloomberg News, penned a column accusing Ravitch of attempting to derail current reforms. He called her “the education world’s very own Whittaker Chambers, the famous communist turned strident anti-communist of the 1940s.”

Neither Ravitch nor Alter broke new ground, but they spent at least 10 minutes talking about Bruce Randolph. Ravitch, the hater of standardized tests, used test scores to build her argument that Randolph is an abysmal school, while Alter said based on growth data, Randolph looks more like the shining star President Obama, Michael Bennet and others have held it up to be.

If you have no opinion on the matter, have a listen. I doubt you’ll feel terribly enlightened or swayed by either Ravitch or Alter. If you come down on one side or the other, then you’ll probably feel your champion scored a knockout.

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