Women History Makers
Fall 2006
Marva Collins
“The essence of teaching is to make learning contagious,
to have one idea spark another”
Marva Collins
Grew up in Atmore, Alabama at a time when
segregation was the rule
Attended a school where Black people were not
permitted to use the public library, and her schools had
few books, and no indoor plumbing
Graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, Georgia
She taught school in Alabama for two years.
She moved to Chicago and taught in Chicago’s public
school system for fourteen years.
Dissatisfaction with the education received by her two
youngest children in prestigious private school
Marva Collins
Open her own school on the second floor of her home.
She took the $5,000 balance in her school pension fund
and began her educational program with an enrollment
of her own two children and four other neighborhood
Westside Preparatory School was founded in 1975 in
Garfield Park, a Chicago inner-city area
During the first year, Marva took in learning disabled,
problem children and even one child who had been
labeled by Chicago public school authorities as
borderline retarded
At the end of the first year, every child scored at least
five grades higher
Marva Collins
CBS program, 60 minutes, visited her school twice
The little girl who was labeled as borderline retarded
graduated from college Summa Cum Laude
Some Marva’s students entered the most prestigious
universities in the country such as Harvard, Stanford,
and Yale
She was featured on Good Morning, America, 20/20,
Fox News, and many more programs
A made-for-television movie titled, The Marva Collins
Story starred Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman first
aired in1 1982, and is still presented on television
Marva Collins
Some of her awards are
 The Jefferson Award for Benefiting the
 The Humanitarian Award for Excellence
 Legendary Women of the World Award
 Many honorary doctoral degrees from universities
such as
Amherst, Dartmouth, Notre Dame, and Clark
 The prestigious National Humanities Medal from
President Bush in 2004
Marva Collins
Business organizations she has spoken to
 The National Girl Scouts
 The National Retailers Association
 The National Dairy Association
 The European Division of IBM
 Xerox Corporation
 The Million Dollar Roundtable
 The Young President’s Organization (YPO)
 The National Bankers’ Association
 Anheuser-Busch,C
 Coors
 she has trained executives of Long John Silvers.
Marva Collins Program and Method
Her educational program and method are based on the
Socratic method emphasizing logical analysis and sound
reasoning skills
Her reading materials deliver abstract ideas
She encouraged multiple interpretations not one correct
Her 4th graders read Plato’ Republic and reflect on the
big question: “what is justice ?”
She reads all the materials to be given to her students in
advance and develops an voluntary list called “wordsto-watch”
Marva Collins Program and Method
When teaching reading, Marva asks her students to
predict what is going to happen from the title and from
the earlier paragraphs
By posing questions along with the process of reading,
she seeks to cultivate meta-cognitive skills such as
reasoning, providing evidence, and analyzing
She always asks her students to justify their answers
Her classroom management strategies are to involve all
her students in the class discussion and to encourage
self-discipline using reasoning
She was against abuse of worksheet, workbook, or
seatwork on the ground that these methods do not
encourage analytical thinking
Marva Collins Quotes
Effective teaching, I firmly believe, requires “repetitiondrill,” “repetition-drill,” “repetition-drill.”
One cannot plant a seed at night and have beans the
next morning. It is foolish to expect anything that
hasn’t been planted, nurtured, tended to, fed, and cared
If a student of mine doesn’t respond to one teaching
approach, I’ll try many different ways to get my point
across. I’d rather spend time teaching than testing and
If you can't make a mistake, you can't make anything
Trust yourself. Think for yourself. Act for yourself.
Speak for yourself. Be yourself. Imitation is suicide
Marva Collins Quotes
I have a dress code for staff and students in my
school. Both are expected to arrive each day
dressed like professionals in the one case, and, in
the other case, come to school prepared to study
and learn and practice the excellence that is
required in the world of successful people.
Certainly, we should teach children how one
dresses for work and how one should carry
oneself with pride and dignity.
Marva Collins Quotes
I was in a Florida school last week where one of my
charges had kicked the principal, and she was walking
with a cane. He had bitten another teacher. When I began
the class I said, “I am honored that you would allow me
to be your teacher today. Of course, I only know how to
teach bright boys and girls; good looking boys and girls,
and I can tell that all of you are bright, and you are,
emphatically, good looking.” I added, “However, if there
happens to be any dumb children in this class, you may
leave now. If there are any ugly children in this class, you,
too, may leave.” Continuing, I stated, “I only know how
to teach bright, wonderful, good-looking boys and girls.”
Not one student left the classroom.
Marva Collins’s Books
Marva Collins' Way, by Marva Collins with Civia Tamarkin
The Marva Collins method; a manual for educating and
motivating your child by Marva Collins
Ordinary Children, Extraordinary Teachers, by Marva Collins
Values: Lighting The Candle of Excellence: A Practical Guide,
by Marva Collins
A conversation with Marva Collins: A Different School by
Marva Collins
Grandma, What Is Learning? by Marva Collins
Redeeming Education by Marva Collins
The School that Cared: A Story of the Marva Collins
Preparatory School of Cincinnati, by P. Kamara Sekou
Marva Collins Online Resources
Lynn Cheney
The Second Lady
Lynne Cheney and History Education
"One of the important lessons we can learn is
that freedom isn't inevitable. This realization
should make the liberty we enjoy all the more
important to us, all the more worth defending."
Lynne Cheney has loved history for as long as
she can remember, and she has spent much of
her professional life writing and speaking about
the importance of knowing history and teaching
it well
Lynne Cheney and History Education
she published American Memory, a report that
warned about the failure of schools to transmit
knowledge of the past to upcoming generations
She launched the James Madison Book Award
Fund, which presents a yearly award of $10,000
to the book that best represents excellence in
bringing knowledge and understanding of
American history to young people
Lynn Cheney Publications
She is author or co-author of eight books
Kings of the Hill (second edition, 1996, Simon &
Schuster), a book about political figures, among
them Henry Clay and Sam Rayburn, who played
powerful roles in the House of Representatives. She
wrote this book with her husband, who was a
Congressman from Wyoming from 1979 to 1989.
 Telling the Truth (Simon & Schuster), analyzed the
effect of postmodernism on study in the humanities.
Lynne Cheney Publications
Children’s Books
 America: A Patriotic Primer, released in May 2002, is an
alphabet book for children of all ages and their
families that celebrates the ideas and ideals that are the
foundations of our country.
 A Is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American
Women, published September 2003, tells the story of
women's contributions to American history
 When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story
for Young Patriots, released in October 2004, is a
straightforward yet elegant retelling of history
 She donated her revenues from these books to charity
Lynn Cheney Publications
Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America
 America : A Patriotic Primer
 Sisters
“Let us go away together, away from the anger and
imperatives of men. There will be only the two of us,
and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet
retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while
your work your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then
we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl.”
Lynn Cheney
Dated Dick Cheney since high school and married in
They had two grown daughters Mary and Elizabeth and
four grandchildren
Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch
Diane Ravitch 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 Education
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
Diane Ravitch
Assistant Secretary of Education (1991-1993) to Lamar Alexander
during George H. W. Bush administration
She led the federal effort to promote the creation of state and
national academic standards
She was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board
from 1997 to 2004 (Appointed by Secretary of Education Richard
Riley in 1997 and reappointed in 2001)
From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education
Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers
on Education Policy
Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor
of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia
University national academic standards
Diane Ravitch Published Works
The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What
Students Learn (2003)
Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (2000)
National Standards in American Education: A Citizen's Guide
What Do Our 17-Year-Olds Know? (with Chester Finn, Jr.)
The Schools We Deserve (1985)
The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (1983)
The Revisionists Revised (1978)
The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805-1973 (1974)
Diane Ravitch Published Works
Edited fourteen books some of them are
The American Reader (1991)
 The Democracy Reader (with Abigail Thernstrom)
 Learning from the Past (with Maris Vinovskis)
 New Schools for a New Century (with Joseph
Viteritti) [1997]
 She has written more than 400 articles and reviews
for scholarly and popular publications
Diane Ravitch’s International Influences
She has lectured in Poland, the former Czechoslovakia,
the Czech Republic, Romania, the former Soviet Union,
Hungary, the former Yugoslavia, Germany, Japan,
Nicaragua, and throughout the United States.
Her lectures on democracy and civic education have
been translated by the USIA into many languages,
including Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Russian,
Belarussian, and Ukrainian.
Her books have been translated into many languages,
including Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Swedish, and
Diane Ravitch
She was elected to membership in
 the National Academy of Education (1979)
 the Society of American Historians (1984)
 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1985)
 the Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow of the American
Academy of Political and Social Sciences (2002)
 She was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting
Scholar in 1984-85, the first person chosen from the
field of education studies
 She was awarded the Henry Allen Moe prize in the
humanities by the American Philosophical Society in
Diane Ravitch
In 1988, she was designated an "honorary citizen of the
state of California" by the State Legislature in recognition
of her contributions to the state's history curriculum and
its human rights curriculum
In 1989, she received the Wellesley College Alumnae
Achievement Award in 1989
She was honored as a Literary Lion by the New York
Public Library in 1992
The Library of Congress invited her to deliver lectures in
1993 in honor of the 250th birthday of Thomas Jefferson
She received the Leadership Award of the Klingenstein
Institute at Teachers College in 1994 and the Horace
Kidger Award of the New England History Teachers
Association in 1998.
Diane Ravitch
In 2004, she received the Leadership Award of the
New York City Council of Supervisors and
In 2005, she received the John Dewey award from the
United Federation of Teachers of New York City; the
Gaudium Award of the Breukelein Institute; and the
Uncommon Book Award from the Hoover Institution
In 2006, the Kenneth J. Bialkin/Citigroup Public
Service Award was conferred on her.
She was awarded an honorary degree, Doctor of
Humane Letters, by the following institutions: Williams
College; Reed College; Amherst College; the State
University of New York; Ramapo College; St. Joseph's
College of New York; Middlebury College Language
Schools; and Union College.
Diane Ravitch
Her most recent 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 &
The book asserts that "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"
Publishers Weekly wrote: "Ravitch contends that these
sanitized materials sacrifice literary quality and historical
accuracy in order to escape controversy”
Diane Ravitch
Her critique of Multiculturalism and her calls for
higher standards in public life have drawn fire.
She is independent politically and was appointed
to public office by both Republican president,
George H. W. Bush and Democrat president Bill
Diane Ravitch Quotes
Behind this disagreement are two different
assumptions: I assume that our education system
should aim to educate everyone who comes to school;
the other side says that ability is distributed along a bellshaped curve and that we should not be overly
concerned about the laggards because we will always
need people to pick up the trash and sweep the streets.
I confess that I get confused at this point because the
current argument favoring low or no standards is
coming from people who claim to be on the left.
Diane Ravitch Quotes
Some evidence recently surfaced, which suggests that a
democratic society pays a price for widespread
ignorance. The Princeton Review, best known for its test
preparation services, analyzed the vocabulary used by
the presidential candidates in the campaign debates of
2000 and compared it to the vocabulary levels used in
earlier campaign debates.
Diane Ravitch Quotes
The Princeton Review obtained transcripts of the
Gore-Bush debates, the Clinton-Bush-Perot
debate of 1992, the Kennedy-Nixon debate of
1960, and the Lincoln-Douglas debate of 1858.
It analyzed these transcripts using a standard
vocabulary test that indicates the minimum
educational level needed for a reader to
understand a document. This test is ordinarily
used to evaluate textbooks and other educational
Diane Ravitch Quotes
The results? In the debates of 2000, George W. Bush
spoke at a sixth-grade level (6.7); Al Gore spoke at a high
seventh-grade level (7.9). In 1992, challenger Bill Clinton
scored in the seventh grade (7.6), President George Bush
in the sixth grade (6.8), and Ross Perot at a sixth-grade
level (6.3) (I am also confused why the left presidents scored higher)
Our contemporary politicians, who found it necessary to
speak to us as sixth and seventh graders, compared
unfavorably with Kennedy and Nixon, both of whom
spoke in a vocabulary appropriate for tenth graders. And
they, in turn, looked sophomoric when compared to
Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas, whose scores,
respectively, were 11.2 and 12.0
Diane Ravitch Quotes
That may be a tough question to answer briefly. I would say
that it (9/11) must be treated as the worst terrorist act in all
history, the worst single loss of life on American soil other
than in one Civil War battle. The event itself must be
described in its true horror. The perpetrators of the evil
must be identified clearly and their affiliation with radical
extremist Islam must be explained. The explanation must
show how this form of extremism seeks to create a
theocratic society that threatens our most basic values; that
it is non-democratic, does not believe in women's equality,
does not tolerate freedom of speech or expression, seeks to
impose religious rule over all institutions. That it is antimodern and is a threat not only to us but to world peace
and development.
Diane Ravitch Online Resources
Deborah Meier
“I wouldn’t give the same test to everyone. I would
rather test students in the same way that we test most
things, by having good conversations”
Deborah Meier
Deborah Meier has spent more than three decades
working in public education as a teacher, principal,
writer, advocate, and ranks among the most acclaimed
leaders of the school reform movement in the U.S.
Meier was born in New York City in 1931
Was educated at Antioch College (B. A.) and the
University of Chicago (M. A.)
She began her teaching career in Chicago, New York,
and Philadelphia as an elementary and Head Start
Deborah Meier
For 20 years, Meier helped revitalize public schools in
New York City’s East Harlem district
In 1974, Superintendent Tony Alvarado asked Meier to
test her theories in a new elementary school in Harlem’s
District 4, where test scores were the lowest in the city
She founded Central Park Elementary School (CPE), a
highly successful alternative school emphasizing active
learning based on Dewey’s progressive thoughts
Within the next dozen years, Meier opened two other
Central Park elementary schools and, in collaboration
with the National Coalition of Essential Schools, the
Central Park East Secondary School
Deborah Meier
Give teachers autonomy
Give parents voices
Her school reached a graduation rate of 90% and became a
model for Small School Collaborative
Meier is currently the principal of the Mission Hill School, a K-8
pilot elementary school recently established in Boston’s Roxbury
Received a MacArthur Fellowship and several honorary degrees
form from Bank Street College of Education, Brown, Bard,
Clark, Teachers College of Columbia University, Dartmouth,
Harvard, Hebrew Union College, Hofstra, The New School,
Lesley College, SUNY Albany, UMASS Lowell, and Yale
Deborah Meier
Meier documented her story and experience at Central
Park East Secondary School in The Power of their Ideas:
Lessons for America from a Small School in Harlem (1995)
Will Standards Save Public Education? (2000)
In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an
Era of Testing and Standardization (2002)
With Ted and Nancy Sizer, Keeping School: Letters to
Families from Principals of Two Small Schools (2004)
Co-edited with George Wood, Many Children Left Behind
(2004), all published by Beacon Press
Deborah Meier Quotes
The standardization movement is not based on a simple
mistake. It rests on deep assumptions about the goals
of education and the proper exercise of authority in the
making of decisions– assumptions we ought to reject in
favor of a different vision of a healthy democratic
By shifting the locus of authority to outside bodies, it
undermines the capacity of schools to instruct by
example in the qualities of mind that schools in a
democracy should be fostering in kids–responsibility
for one’s own ideas, tolerance for the ideas of others,
and a capacity to negotiate differences
Deborah Meier Quotes
The coalition of experts which produced A Nation at
Risk were wrong when they announced the failure of
American public education and its critical role in our
economic decline. Constructive debate about reform
should begin by acknowledging this misjudgment. But it
should then also acknowledge the even bigger crisis
that schools have played a major part in deepening, if
not actually creating, and could play a big part in curing.
This crisis requires quite a different set of responses,
often in direct conflict with standardization.
Deborah Meier Quotes
An understanding of this other crisis begins by noting
that we have the lowest voter turnout by far of any
modern industrial country; we are exceptional for the
absence of responsible care for our most vulnerable
citizens (we spend less on child welfare–baby care,
medical care, family leave–than almost every
competitor); we don’t come close to our competitors in
income equity; and our high rate of (and investment in)
incarceration places us in a class by ourselves. All of
these, of course, effect some citizens far more than
others: and the heaviest burdens fall on the poor, the
young, and people of color.
Deborah Meier Quotes
What is quality teaching?
“Teaching that engages — or reengages — kids
and their curiosity about the world, gets them
asking questions and subjecting their own and
other people's ideas to tough testing, that calls
upon the best habits of mind and imagination,
that makes perseverance seem obvious and
natural, that widens their horizons in terms of
subject matter, people, and places”
Deborah Meier Quotes
How do race and class play out in relation to teaching
“For significant conversations to take place we need a
teaching force that reflects the diversity of learners —
that is able to grapple with the various perspectives and
difficulties that we experience as learners in our society.
How things "seem to be" through the eyes of males vs.
females, blacks vs. whites, the well-off vs. the poorly
off is critical to developing schools that take advantage
of our children's multiple strengths.”
Deborah Meier Quotes
What I wanted was to create thoughtful citizens
— people who believed they could live
interesting lives and be productive and socially
useful. So I tried to create a community of
children and adults where the adults shared and
respected the children’s lives
Deborah Meier Online Resources

Women History Makers