Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch

Who Are the Corporate Reformers?

  • Reform is a misnomer as it’s advocates want to transform public education into an entrepreneurial sector of the economy. This works for people on the right who believe that government can’t do anything right. There is nothing conservative, however, in the idea of replacing traditional public schools with a market place of privately run schools and for-profit vendors. The reformers also include many on the left including the Obama administration. Money to support the movement comes from big foundations (e.g. Gates and Walton), hedge fund managers, and the federal government.
  • People who draw attention to the role poverty plays in student achievement are accused of making excuses for bad teachers and failing schools. Certainly teachers, who by in large supported Obama, aren’t likely to believe the claim that RTTT was not a top down mandate but the work of local educators. This is not true in any sense. Obama also claims to oppose teaching to the test even though his program promotes just that. He has also not bothered to opposed Republican governors who have attacked the collective bargaining rights of public-sector unions. Diane also sees the national media as complicit in this take over effort.

The Language of Corporate Reform

  • The myth of the good old days in prominent here. The so-called good old days, however, featured fewer students finishing high school and attending college. Today schools serve many more students with disabilities and non English speakers. Critics have been able to sell the idea that somehow, public education threatens all we hold dear. Effective teachers are those who’s students get high test scores. These students for the most part are simply students with more wealth, attention, medical care, and educated parents at home. Innovation mostly means replacing teachers with technology.
  • While it’s clear that reformers are seeking more privatization, the word they use is choice, which somehow seems less threatening. If the American public knew what the reformers were really up to, they would most likely reject their plans.
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