Swatting at another Gadfly

On Tuesday, Kathryn S. Wylde, president & CEO of the Partnership for New York City and a well-known Bloomberg acolyte, prompted by City Hall and Tweed Court House minions and aided by a prominent public relations firm that also holds the Bloomberg account, took to the New York Post to heap calumnies on Diane Ravitch's objectivity, her trustworthiness as an education authority, even her commitment to educating all students. Wylde asserted that Ravitch's criticisms of New York City's school management "seem more tied to her unhappiness with the personalities in the Bloomberg administration than its policies." Wrong. Ravitch has forgotten more about education than Wylde ever knew--and Wylde (and the mayor and schools chancellor) should be grateful that Ravitch cares enough about public education in Gotham to follow and comment on it as closely as she has. Rather than attack Ravitch's integrity and motives (with, it seems, much help from Big Brother at City Hall), why not address some of her more potent criticisms? Yes,  Mayor Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Klein have initiated some worthy changes. But some of their policies--loopy reading and math curricula, loopy mini-schools, etc.--deserve the kind of critical exposure that Ravitch (and a handful of other robust free thinkers) have given them. Some of their claims of victory rest on "creative" statistical applications. Ravitch ought to receive from Klein and his troops a rigorous intellectual debate. Instead, she receives ad feminem treatment on the op-ed page. The Tweed team may end up wishing they hadn't launched this fusillade. Ravitch responds here; the UFT defends her here, and the folks at NRO lend their support here. When one's integrity is vouched for simultaneously by National Review and the teachers' union, what does that say about one's detractors?

"Hypocritical critic," by Kathryn S. Wylde, New York Post, October 30, 2007