A Nashville crowd of 400 was enthralled with education reform naysayer Diane Ravitch from the moment she was introduced by Metro school board member Amy Frogge to when she left the stage.
Ravitch has become a leading voice criticizing charter schools, high-stakes teacher evaluations and over-testing. Wednesday night she also hit Teach for America, saying high-achieving countries like Finland would never consider giving a teacher just six weeks of training.
“They do not permit amateurs to become teachers or principals or superintendents, and they don’t permit amateurs to become state superintendents,” Ravitch said to cheers.
That last comment was a dig at Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, who is stepping down. He started out as a teacher with TFA and was later an executive with the organization.
Ravitch called it a “hoax” that schools are failing and in need of a total overhaul, adding that “protecting children from privatizing education is the civil rights issue of our time.”
Tennessee charter schools preemptively sent out a statement responding to Ravitch’s appearance, saying that her “divisive rhetoric” does not reflect what’s happening on the ground in Tennessee.
David Wright Smith contributed to this report.