School Talk

No Diane, Love Isn’t Always Enough

There are some who put things out in the twittersphere just to get a reaction and I have to believe that Diane Ravitch was working off that model when she tagged Chelsea Clinton in this tweet:

@ChelseaClinton Now that you have a child, you will understand that love matters more than data   

Putting aside the utter condescension targeted at a new mother who just happens to be a public figure, the words also happen to be absurd. Additionally, anyone with even an inkling of common sense knows that it’s an inevitable fact that Chelsea Clinton’s daughter will attend schools that, by every measure and data point, epitomize excellence and privilege.

Chelsea will have unfettered access to school choice.  

Ravitch’s implication that data somehow lacks importance is laughable. It’s probably safe to say that there isn’t a single thing she uses in her day to day life that was not created, improved, discontinued, or expanded based on data. Her choices about where to food shop, where to send her own kids to school, where to purchase a home, what medicines to take, whether or not to smoke, what to blog about and even who to smear are all based on data. And she knows that. Everyone knows that.

Does she think anyone believes she’s not counting clicks, page views, or book sales?  

It’s true that Diane Ravitch hasn’t been the parent of a young child in a very long time. Perhaps she’s not aware of the information and “data” overload that bombards modern day parents. Whether it’s the speed at which their baby’s car seat was crash tested, the evils of high fructose corn syrup or plastic containing BPA, or the stats on SIDS and Shaken Baby Syndrome, we are taking it all in.  We are told to keep kids in booster seats til they’re practically taller than we are and helmets are now required to ride a bike or ski down a mountain.  Obesity, peanut allergies, diabetes, autism…all are data based realities that parents in 2015 can’t ignore. Yet she, Diane Ravitch, who raised her own children during a very different time, is going to tell the very savvy daughter of a former president (and current presidential candidate) to tune out available information and instead just focus on love.

I guess Diane is just sharing her truth with Chelsea. The trouble is that truth comes in many shades for the former education adviser to George W Bush.  In fact, it’s not unusual for her ‘truth’ to be an unequivocal lie. She vilifies those (like me) who earn money writing about education reform as nothing more than corporate shills who lack any semblance of passion, conviction, idealism, or autonomy; on the flip side, she willfully misrepresents the writers with whom she agrees as unpaid martyrs working tirelessly behind the keyboard out of nothing more than their deep love for kids.

Most people who believe deeply in their work also get paid to do it and no matter how many ways Diane spins it, she can never make it not so. Her anti reform writing brings in big bucks too, even from corporations like Pearson yet somehow, only reform supporters qualify as her version of corporate shills.

Perhaps high atop those stacks of Benjamins she earns from Pearson, she has forgotten a few brutal truths about parents’ love for their children.

Has Diane forgotten that there are desperate parents on waiting lists to get into better schools (like the one her own kids attended) because those schools have better data? They love their kids too.

Has Diane chosen to ignore the lawsuits in New York and California, brought by brave parents who are worried that their children are falling behind because of a system that is failing to educate them as promised? They love their kids too.

Has Diane decided that parents tormented by the reality that their children and their neighbors’ children are reading below grade level year after year are wrong to be concerned? That their love is enough even if their child is well into fourth grade and still not literate?

It’s insulting that someone sitting from a perch of privilege and earning money by pushing policies shown to be especially harmful to poor children of color, would tell any parent that love trumps data, as if wanting information is somehow antithetical to loving a child.

Those of us who actually have young children today, are proud to say we believe in both.

What do you think?

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