In Which I Debate Diane Ravitch in 140 Characters or Less

Perhaps you’ve noticed, but I haven’t been blogging as much as usual lately. That’s because I’ve started tweeting, by which I mean I’ve started wasting untold hours following thousands of mini-messages on Twitter every day, along with sending dozens of my own. Michelle Rhee’s new initiative is great, but if we really want to hamper the teachers unions, we should introduce their leaders to Twitter.

But it did produce this nifty little debate between my friend Diane Ravitch and me, on the topic of school budget cuts. I thought I’d share.

DianeRavitch NYC class sizes going up and up as budgets cut. Many kids poor, special needs, ELL.

MichaelPetrilli That’s because Joel and Randi agreed to unaffordable raises and pension deals for teachers. How would you cut costs?

DianeRavitch Then cut massive bureaucracy

MichaelPetrilli Yes, let’s cut bureaucracy. But with 85% of the money in teacher salaries and benefits, we have to let class sizes rise, too.

DianeRavitch Easy to let class sizes rise for other people’s children.

MichaelPetrilli That’s a great line, Diane, but it doesn’t solve the problem. The money is gone. We have to help schools cut smart.

DianeRavitch Folks on the right are a tad too gleeful about cutting school budgets

MichaelPetrilli No, gleeful to get rid of policies like last hired first fired which are bad for kids. The $ crisis is an opportunity to do so

DianeRavitch When you go to hospital, do you want to be treated by an intern or a doctor? Newbies need help of seasoned vets. Kids too.

MichaelPetrilli I sure don’t want to be treated by an ineffective or burned out doctor, regardless of how many years he’s been on the job.

DianeRavitch Why do you assume that experienced teachers are burned out or ineffective? Why the contempt?

MichaelPetrilli I’m sure most veteran teachers are great. But let’s assume that 5 or 10% are not. Those are the ones who should be let go.

DianeRavitch I just don’t understand idea that we need to fire x% of teachers: No evaluations, no effort to improve, just fire people. Tabloid think.

MichaelPetrilli Of course we should do evaluations, etc. But right now districts must lay off teachers. If not the bad ones, then who?

Who says Web 2.0 is superficial?

-Mike Petrilli

Last Updated


Notify Me When Education Next

Posts a Big Story

Business + Editorial Office

Program on Education Policy and Governance
Harvard Kennedy School
79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
Phone (617) 496-5488
Fax (617) 496-4428

For subscription service to the printed journal
Phone (617) 496-5488

Copyright © 2024 President & Fellows of Harvard College