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Is Education on the Wrong Track?

A TNR Symposium.

Welcome to the fourth installment of our online debate about the state of American education. In this round, Richard Rothstein, who on Monday praised Diane Ravitch's view--expressed in her new book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education--that the current trajectory of education reform is endangering student learning, argues that teachers can't be held accountable for the economic and social factors that negatively affect students' classroom performance. And Ben Wildavsky, who criticized Ravitch's argument in the first round (she responded soon after), says that developing good charter schools can coexist with efforts to fix regular public schools, and that teachers' unions eschew professionalism when they refuse to allow for job evaluations based on performance.

By Richard Rothstein: Want to improve teacher quality? Fine. But that won't help the environmental factors outside of schools that are eroding student learning.

By Ben Wildavsky: Ravitch misunderstands the roles of charter schools, teacher professionalism, and bipartisanship in education reform.