College Guide


February 02, 2012 10:00 AM Diane Ravitch on Higher Education Reforms

By Daniel Luzer

Education historian Diane Ravitch does not support President Obama’s new plans for higher education. Ravitch, who became famous promoting education standards and charter schools, believes that the president’s attempts to bring greater government oversight into higher education will prove troublesome.

According to a piece in Inside Higher Ed:

An increasing reliance on productivity and outcomes data will result in a generation of students who cannot learn or think for themselves, she warned. “The more we attempt to quantify what cannot be quantified, the more we narrow the purposes of higher education,” Ravitch said, calling on college presidents to stand up for academic freedom and resist the “accountability juggernaut.”

Ravitch is a critic of excessive use of standardized testing-based accountability and the “reform” movement in elementary and secondary schools, which she characterized (more or less accurately) as dominated by those who “believe that the schools can be improved by more testing, more punishment of educators, more charter schools, and strict adherence to free-market principles in relation to employees (teachers) and consumers (students)” and funded by “billionaire equity investors and hedge fund managers.”

Obama’s latest reform plans will punish or reward colleges with federal financial aid based on their efforts (and success) in improving college affordability.

Ravitch is a professor of education at New York University. Undergraduate tuition at NYU is $39,344 a year. The average student leaves NYU $35,000 in debt.

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer


  • dave mazella on February 02, 2012 8:17 PM:

    I'm glad you followed Ravitch's sensible remarks with her annual salary information, because it's obvious that she EXTRACTED THAT TUITION FROM HER STUDENTS WITH HER VAMPIRE-LIKE FANGS.

    Incidentally, how much does Kevin Carey get paid to tell us, over and over again, that professors are lazy, greedy, and unproductive? I won't even ask how many students he teaches a semester. Clearly, for someone to appear as an "expert" on universities on this blog all the time, it must be lots and lots.

  • Daniel on February 02, 2012 8:31 PM:

    There's no information in the blog post about Ravitch's salary.

  • dave mazella on February 02, 2012 9:15 PM:

    Oops, meant "tuition information." Still wondering about Kevin Carey's affiliations and expertise. If the tuition information for Ravitch's university can outweigh all the books and articles she's ever written, could we have a donor's list for Carey's cozy little think tank operation?

  • Craigie on February 03, 2012 8:19 AM:

    Here is the donor list for Education Sector: . That said, it is not clear the basis for putting Carey on yesterday's Senate panel on successful initiatives in college affordability.

  • dave mazella on February 03, 2012 11:38 AM:

    Hmm, Carey seems to be a remarkably well-connected journalist and think-tank worker. Apparently he teaches a class at Johns Hopkins occasionally. He has done remarkably well as someone who has worked in the intersection of corporate boards and education policy. And he seems remarkably uncomfortable with a term like "neoliberalism," given the corporate boards and donors he associates himself with.

    It does seem curious to me that of all the people who could comment on higher ed in this space, that someone like this is given regular opportunities to talk about the state of higher ed, given the monotony of his message, the thinness of his resume outside the realm of policy and think tanks, and his disconnect from rank-and-file academics and students. You might even want to publish someone who knows what "neoliberalism" means.

  • dave mazella on February 03, 2012 12:41 PM:

    My link to Sara Goldrick-Rab's critique of Carey's work seems to have disappeared.

    If it disappears again, google Sara Goldrick-Rab, The Education Optimists, "Are you there, Kevin, it's me, neoliberalism"