I’ve been friendly with Diane Ravitch for a long time. Encountering her historical work 20 years ago, I was struck by her hard-hitting, erudite analyses. She invited me to deliver my first featured talk (at Brookings, on my then-forthcoming Spinning Wheels book). When I was leaving UVA’s Curry School of Education, she was one of the handful of mentors I turned to for guidance. A few years ago now, I hosted the first public event for her Death and Life book.

All of which left me enormously disappointed as I read two blog posts that Ravitch penned over the weekend. Ravitch weighed in on a situation in Los Angeles, where principal Irma Cobian was removed from her position at Weigand Avenue Elementary School in Watts when Parent Revolution helped parents exercise California’s “parent trigger” law. Ravitch started out reasonably enough, pointing out that 21 of 22 teachers requested a transfer in response to Cobian’s removal, and that one third-grade teacher said that Cobian’s the best principal she’s had in her nine years at the school. (It’s also worth noting, though, as Parent Revolution does, that the school ranks close to the bottom of all LAUSD elementary schools on California’s Academic Performance Index and that scores have fallen over the past three years under Cobian.)

Ravitch then shifted gears, summoning shades of Dante’s Inferno, as she wrote of Parent Revolution, “There is a special place in hell reserved for everyone who administers and funds this revolting organization.” One can just picture Ravitch fastidiously consigning these folks to their proper stations in the various circles of hell.

Ravitch grew even more heated as she wrote of Parent Revolution’s founder Ben Austin, “Ben Austin is loathsome. He ruined the life and career of a dedicated educator. She was devoted to the children, he is devoted to the equally culpable foundations that fund his Frankenstein organization.” She continued, “Ben, you ruined the life of a good person for filthy lucre. Ben, every day when you wake up, you should think of Irma Cobian. When you look in the mirror, think Irma Cobian. Your last thought every night should be Irma Cobian. She should be on your conscience-if you have one-forever.”

Now, I’ve got my own qualms about Parent Revolution. I’ve mixed feelings on the trigger and on Parent Revolution’s policy recommendations. But none of this, not one iota, even begins in the tiniest way to justify Ravitch’s tirade. Moreover, I know Ben Austin and will attest to just how smart, well-intentioned, passionate, humble, and nice he actually is. Indeed, last fall, when I proffered a pretty tough critique of Parent Revolution, Ben’s genteel response moved me to note, “I was cheered recently by Parent Revolution’s impassioned but thoughtful and courteous [tone],” and to hail their contribution to healthy civil debate.

Read more of this article at Education Week