97 People Gather at Cleveland Heights, OH High School to Discuss Ravitch Book

Promptly at 7 o’clock last evening, 97 people arrived at the social room of Cleveland Heights High School to discuss Diane Ravitch’s book, Reign of Error.  Last evening launched a three part, three week conversation.  Parents joined members of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Board and Cleveland Heights City Council, school administrators and teachers from Cleveland Heights and surrounding communities, and interested citizens from several communities including young professionals, retirees, and one student from Cleveland Heights High School.  Teachers from our public schools served as table facilitators.

After small groups considered questions to summarize the assigned first-night reading, those at the tables thought about what had surprised them or stood out in the chapters assigned.  Report-outs evidenced interest in the Orwellian language being used by corporate reformers, the myriad variables that affect the high stakes test scores by which students are judged and teachers evaluated, and the need to support—not punish—public schools in urban areas. “How can we avoid a future where rich children are taught by teachers and poor children by computers?”  “Those pushing today’s corporate reforms are not looking for solutions but instead intend to destroy.”  “Inequality is the inevitable result of a system based on competition.  There will always be losers when there are winners.”

Community sponsors had gathered on several occasions to build interest and plan the conversations. Sponsors are the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union, AFT; the Cleveland Heights-University Heights School Administration; Reaching Heights (a small foundation that assists the work of teachers, provides scholarships for private music lessons and a week-long summer music camp, and supports parents of students with special needs); Future Heights (an organization that promotes living in Cleveland Heights); Heights Community Congress (Cleveland’s oldest fair housing organization); the Cleveland Heights Public Library; the school district’s PTA Council; and Link Education Consulting.

Last evening’s conversation explored the book’s first and final chapters as well as myths and realities.  On January 29, participants will think together about current trends including privatization as well as the urgent need to protect democratic governance of public schools.  The final conversation on February 5 will consider what Ravitch calls “the toxic mix”: poverty, segregation, and inequality.

Last night we came together to talk as a community, see old friends, and make new acquaintances. All materials are posted on the website of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union.  If your community would like to sponsor such a a series of events, please feel free to use or adapt them.

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5 thoughts on “97 People Gather at Cleveland Heights, OH High School to Discuss Ravitch Book

  1. This is so great, Jan. My group (Coalition to Defend Public Education) is hoping to organize a similar event (or events in different communities), but honestly we’re pretty dysfunctional. I haven’t read the materials yet, but hopefully it will give us much needed pointers. I’m so impressed at the groups that came together and the quotes from participants. Things are heating up in RI on the anti-Common Core front. I seem to be in the middle of several groups. A few of us will be meeting with some open-minded state legislators in another week or so. I don’t know if I told you, but Hannah and I are planning to go the BATs march in D.C. on July 28. I’m really looking forward to it. We’re going to splurge and stay in the hotel right near the DoE. Hope all is well with all of you. Love, Sheila

  2. Pingback: Reign of Error: Finding a better path for public education | Heights Observer Blogs

  3. Pingback: 70 People Brave Frigid Weather to Raise Concerns about School Choice | janresseger

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