Diane Ravitch's new book _LEFT BACK: A Century of Failed School Reforms._ 555 pp. Simon and Schuster, $30 is reviewed in today's NY Times Book review by Sara Mosle:
'.......As a matter of theory, Ravitch's case against the progressives is persuasive. "Time and again," she writes, " experts urged the schools to de-emphasize reading, writing, history, mathematics, and science; to drop foreign languages; to replace history with social studies; to eliminate high-quality literature and substitute for it uninspired scraps from textbooks; and to teach only what was useful and immediately functional." Her method is hang prominent theorists with their own words - often citing excessively long passages from their writings (to avoid I suspect, charges of quoting out of context) - as they describe, in sometimes shockingly undemocratic terms, how the country's "army of incapables" can't be expected to achieve even basic literacy or numeracy. Those most hurt by these ideas, she argues, were disadvantaged children who had "the greatest need for intellectual stimulation that schools were supposed to provide."
As a matter of practice, however, Ravitch is on shakier ground. As she concedes, parents and teachers have always rejected reformers' whackier notions. Periods of innovation have invariably been followed by back-to-basics retrenchment......'