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Diane Silvers Ravitch
Born Diane Silvers
July 1, 1938 (1938-07-01) (age 71)
Houston, Texas
Residence Brooklyn, New York
Nationality  United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Education Wellesley College, B.A., 1960
Columbia University, Ph.D., 1975
Employer research professor of education, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development
senior fellow, Brookings Institution
Board member of Albert Shanker Institute, director
Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History advisory board
Common Core, Washington, D.C., co-chair of board, Core Knowledge, board of directors
Spouse(s) Richard Ravitch (lawyer, businessman) (June 26, 1960–December, 1986) (divorced)
Children Joseph, Steven (deceased), Michael
Parents Walter Cracker Silvers (businessperson)
Ann Celia (Katz) Silvers
Awards Delta Kappa Gamma Educators' Award
1975, for The Great School Wars, New York City, 1805-1973
1984, for The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945- 1980

Ambassador of Honor Award, English-Speaking Union,

1984, for The Troubled Crusade
1985, for The Schools We Deserve: Reflections on the Educational Crises of Our Times

Phi Beta Kappa visiting scholar, 1984-85
Henry Allen Moe Prize, American Philosophical Society, 1986
designated honorary citizen, State of California Senate Rules Committee, 1988, for work on state curriculum
Alumnae Achievement Award, Wellesley College, 1989
Medal of Distinction, Polish National Council of Education, 1991
Literary Lion, New York Public Library, 1992
Award for Distinguished Service, New York Academy of Public Education, 1994
Horace Kidger Award, New England History Teachers Association, 1998
Award of Excellence, St. John's University School of Education, 1998
John Dewey Education Award, United Federation of Teachers, 2005
Guggenheim fellowship
Honorary Life Trustee, New York Public Library
Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute, 2005
Honorary degrees from

Williams College
Reed College
Amherst College
State University of New York
Ramapo College
Saint Joseph's College (New York)
Middlebury College Language Schools
Union College
Diane Ravitch Website

Diane Silvers Ravitch (b. July 1, 1938) is a historian of education, an educational policy analyst, and former United States Assistant Secretary of Education who is now a research professor at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.


Personal life

She was born in 1938 in Houston, Texas, where she went to public schools. She is a graduate of Wellesley College, has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, and lives in Brooklyn, New York City. She was married to Richard Ravitch in 1960, and divorced in 1986. They have two sons, Joseph and Michael Ravitch.


Ravitch began her career as an editorial assistant at The New Leader magazine, a small journal devoted to democratic ideas. In 1975, she became a historian of education with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. At that time she worked closely with Teachers College president Lawrence A. Cremin, who was her mentor. Her critique of multiculturalism and her calls for higher standards in public life have drawn fire.

However, she is not easy to characterize politically as she was appointed to public office by both President of the United States George H. W. Bush and his successor Bill Clinton. Secretary of Education Richard Riley appointed her to serve as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which supervises the National Assessment of Educational Progress; she was a member of NAGB from 1997-2004. In her political views and in her record she is independent.

In 2005, she received the John Dewey Award from the United Federation of Teachers of New York City; the Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute of Brooklyn; and the Uncommon Book award from the Hoover Institution. She is also a board member of the Albert Shanker Institute and Common Core, which advocates for the liberal arts and sciences in schools.

She has participated in a "blog debate" called "Bridging Differences" with Steinhardt School colleague Deborah Meier on the website of Education Week since February 26, 2007.[6]

Writings on education

Ravitch critiqued contemporary experiments for improving schools, such as replacing public with charter schools and relying on superstar teachers, in The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Undermine Education (2010). One reviewer writes "Ravitch exhibits an interesting mix of support for public education and the rights of teachers to bargain collectively with a tough-mindedness that some on the pedagogical left lack."[7]

While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, she later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers." [8]

Her book The Language Police (2003) was a criticism of both left-wing and right-wing attempts to stifle the study and expression of views deemed unworthy by those groups. (See political correctness and multiculturalism). The review summarizes Ravitch's thesis as "pressure groups from the political right and left have wrested control of the language and content of textbooks and standardized exams, often at the expense of the truth (in the case of history), of literary quality (in the case of literature), and of education in general."[9] Publishers Weekly wrote: "Ravitch contends that these sanitized materials sacrifice literary quality and historical accuracy in order to escape controversy." [10]


Honorary titles

Published works



  • The Revisionists Revised: A Critique of the Radical Attack on the Schools (1978) ISBN 0465069436
  • The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (1985) ISBN 0465087574
  • The Schools We Deserve (1985) ISBN 0465072364
  • Schools in Cities: Consensus and Conflict in American Educational History (1983) ISBN 0841908508
  • Against Mediocrity: The Humanities in America's High Schools (1984) ISBN 084190944X
  • Challenges to the Humanities (1985) ISBN 0841910170
  • The Great School Wars: A History of the New York City Public Schools (1988) ISBN 0465027040
  • What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know: A Report on the First National Assessment of History and Literature (1989) ISBN 0060158492
  • The American Reader : Words That Moved a Nation (1990) ISBN 0060164808
  • National Standards in American Education: A Consumer's Guide (1995) ISBN 0815773528
  • New Schools for a New Century: The Redesign of Urban Education (1997) ISBN 0300078749
  • City Schools: Lessons from New York (2000) ISBN 0801863414
  • Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000) ISBN 0684844176
  • The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) ISBN 0375414827
  • Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society (2003) ISBN 0300099177
  • Kid Stuff: Marketing Sex and Violence to America's Children (2003) ISBN 0801873274
  • Forgotten Heroes of American Education: The Great Tradition of Teaching Teachers (2006) ISBN 1593114486
  • The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (2006) ISBN 0195077296
  • EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon (2007) ISBN 9781416605751
  • The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010) ISBN 9780465014910

Journal articles

  • "The Scars and Trophies of a Reformer". Academic Questions 18 (2): 7–19. March 2005. 


  1. ^ Contemporary Authors Online. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale, 2009. Fee via Fairfax County Public Library, accessed 2009-05-16. Document Number: H1000081288.
  2. ^ Topek, Joseph S. (November 11, 1991). "Reflections on CUNY's Jeffries and the Jews" (PDF). Statesman (Stony Brook, New York) (20): p. 13.,%20n.%2020.pdf. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  3. ^ Green, Elizabeth (1 July 2008). "Happy Birthday Diane Ravitch". New York Sun. Retrieved 2009-05-16. "...only Jew in Brooklyn to have her own priest" 
  4. ^ "The Albert Shanker Institute - Board of Directors". Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  5. ^ "Gaudium Award 2005 - The Breukelein Institute". Retrieved 2009-05-16. "Gaudium Award 2005" 
  6. ^ Bridging Differences Ravitch also blogs at and the Huffington Post.
  7. ^ Kahlenberg, Richard (March-April, 2010). "Re-education: Conservative education scholar Diane Ravitch returns to her liberal roots". The Washington Monthly. Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  8. ^ [ Why I Changed My Mind About School Reform, by Diane Ravitch, Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2010
  9. ^ Tropea, Silvana. " Review: The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn: Diane Ravitch:". Retrieved 2010-03-02. 
  10. ^ "The Language Police, Vintage Ser., Diane Ravitch, Book - Barnes & Noble". Retrieved 2009-05-16. ??

External links


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