Attending high school in Houston in the 1950s, Diane Ravitch came into contact with a teacher named Ruby Ratliff. A passionate lover of literature and a fierce editor of homework, Ratliff, following Tennyson, told Ravitch “to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.” The student evidently followed the teacher’s advice. Ravitch, a historian of American education and assistant secretary of education under the first George Bush, has long sought to find out what makes schools work. She has now found what that is, or at least what it isn’t: choice and testing. Her case against both is unyielding.