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Situating NYC in national context, Ravitch's book hits shelves

Diane Ravitch offered a first look at her new book, “The Death and Life of the Great American School System,” at a GothamSchools event in December where she explained that seeing education theories play out in reality caused her to change her mind about standardized testing, school choice, and the entire notion of “accountability.”

Today, the book officially hit shelves, after receiving a spate of favorable reviews in major newspapers. People who have been following Ravitch’s transformation in recent years will find much of her argument familiar. Still, her book offers those who are new to the story a 240-page primer on major trends in education policy — trends that Ravitch says are undermining the country’s once-great schools.

While the book contains Ravitch’s take on New York City’s recent education history — hint: she’s not positive — it is by no means solely about New York. Ravitch also weaves tales from San Diego and Washington, D.C, where activist superintendents have pushed aggressive changes, into a big picture about the general direction of American education. New Yorkers did play a special role in helping Ravitch prepare the book for publication: Diana Senechal, a city teacher who has contributed to GothamSchools, was her research assistant.

Visit the community section to read an exclusive excerpt from the book, in which Ravitch describes why her favorite high school teacher wouldn’t succeed in today’s data-driven teaching environment. Also, Queens teacher Arthur Goldstein, who received an advance copy, offers a glowing endorsement.

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