No Child Left Behind was a disaster and school choice has failed. A new book points the way forward from the wreckage.
Rather than senior researchers, public finance experts and classroom learning specialists, seven of the governor’s 11 appointees appeared to have been recruited from the charter-industrial complex.
California is one of the richest states in the nation but spends about the same on its students as states like Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and South Carolina, where the cost of living is far less than in California.
Wanted: Black College Students (just not at our college). Diane Ravitch’s Power Elitists. An inconvenient truth for LAUSD.
The 25-year experiment with charter schools has been a failure, former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch said this week at the annual conference of the Network for Public Education.
The nomination of Californian Ted Mitchell to the number two position at the U.S. Department of Education is the latest indication that proponents of school privatization are continuing to gain influence over the Obama administration’s education policy.
“He represents the quintessence of the privatization movement,” Diane Ravitch, an education historian and former Assistant Secretary of Education under President George H.W. Bush, tells Capital & Main. “This is a signal the Obama administration is committed to moving forward aggressively with transferring public funds to private hands.”
In education “privatization” refers to the contracting out of traditional public education services to for-profit companies or to charter schools that are set up as nonprofit organizations. In many ways, the Mitchell nomination reflects the ongoing battle being fought in Washington and in school districts across the country. It’s a battle that pits the views of teachers, their unions and community groups against a movement that is backed by wealthy philanthropists and corporations.
“Sometimes it seems that eliminating public education itself is the goal of this reform era,” Diane Ravitch told a cheering crowd of public school teachers and education activists who had packed Occidental College’s Thorne Hall Tuesday night.
The audience had come to hear the 75-year-old scholar, author and former Assistant Secretary of Education drive home her message that, contrary to the dire narrative now being sold to Americans by proponents of school privatization, the nation’s public education system is not broken.
Ravitch, who might have been mistaken for the latest college-radio rock sensation rather than the country’s preeminent critic of the education-reform movement, was here as part of a Los Angeles leg of a whirlwind tour to promote the publication of her latest book — and New York Times Best Seller— Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Knopf).
Currently a Research Professor of Education at New York University, Diane Ravitch served as the Assistant Secretary of Education in the George H.W. Bush administration and later worked for Bill Clinton’s White House. A tireless critic of the public school testing standards she once endorsed, the 75-year-old Ravitch remains a clear voice against the stampede into publicly funded charter schools and other right-leaning education “reforms,” including No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top.
Her newest book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. Tonight and tomorrow night she will speak at two Southland colleges as part of her book tour.
Tuesday, October 1, 7 p.m.
Thorne Hall. Occidental College
1600 Campus Road, Los Angeles
Wednesday, October 2, 7 p.m.
Student Union,California State University
18111 Nordhoff St.,
Ever since the emergence of talking pictures, schools have been a major subject of both Hollywood movies and documentary films. One consistent theme of Hollywood portrayals of schools – from Blackboard Jungle (1955), Up the Down Staircase (1967) and Stand and Deliver (1988) to Mr. Holland’s Opus (1995), October Sky (1999) and Freedom Writers (2007) – has been the idealistic teacher fighting to serve his and her students against overwhelming odds, including uncaring administrators, cynical colleagues, a stultifying required curriculum that crushes the spirit of teachers and students alike, dilapidated conditions, budget cuts, unruly and hostile students, or students suffering from the symptoms of poverty or neglect. The underlying message is that while occasionally a rare teacher can light a spark in a few students, our public schools are failing most of the students they are supposed to serve. Most documentaries about education –
“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” Gloria Romero tells me on the phone. “It’s flowing to both sides. Government isn’t about drawing lines. It’s not about saying you’re on that side and you can’t come over.”
Her voice is friendly, somewhat placid, but it’s clear Romero is not thrilled with having to answer questions about her political alliance with the Koch brothers and other wealthy supporters of Proposition 32, and she conspicuously avoids bringing up their names. When pressed about the Kochs and the money behind behind Prop. 32, she falls back upon her experience in Sacramento.
“I have sat in the belly of the beast,” she says. “I have seen the realities of money and its influence.”
With Election Day still one month away, the battle to pass Prop. 32 has seen its share of political shockers, including the sudden injection of $4 million of Koch brother money to the Yes on 32 campaign,