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Diane Ravitch takes aim at Ritz detractors on Indiana show

Education historian Diane Ravitch and Friedman Foundation CEO Robert Enlow debated at Butler University last March.
Education historian Diane Ravitch and Friedman Foundation CEO Robert Enlow debated at Butler University last March.
Scott Elliott

A national critic of testing and accountability-based school reform took aim at opponents of state Superintendent Glenda Ritz on a lndiana-based Internet radio talk show tonight.

“It seems as if the governor and legislature are just determined to crush her,” said Diane Ravitch, the education historian and one-time school reform advocate who has become perhaps the nation’s most recognized spokeswoman against testing, school choice, test-based teacher evaluation and other proposals she says harm public schools.

Ravitch served as assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush and was on the board of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a national pro-school choice advocacy group, but then had a change of heart and wrote two books deeply critical of her prior allies.

She appeared on the Just Let Me Teach Internet radio show on discussing Indiana politics for an hour with host Justin Oakley, a former teacher who stepped aside to make way for Ritz after seeking the Democratic nomination to run against then-state Superintendent Tony Bennett in 2012.

Ravitch has frequently backed Ritz and criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. She called bills that aim to remove the guarantee in state law that Ritz serve as chairwoman of the Indiana State Board of Education “pathetic” and “vindictive.”

“They’re trying to take away even her title,” she said. “This is because they are afraid of her because she is a vote getter.”

Robert Enlow, president of the Friedman Foundation, said in an interview after the program Ravitch and Ritz both “pander to the lowest common denominator.” Ravitch singled out Friedman and Enlow for criticism during the interview, saying that by promoting publicly-funded tuition vouchers for private schools they hope to privatize the public school system.

“As long as Diane Ravitch and Glenda Ritz put adults and systems ahead of kids,” Enlow said, “they are always going to be worried about politics and power more than what works best for kids.”

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