From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.
In Reign of Error, Diane Ravitch argues that the crisis in American education is not a crisis of academic achievement but a concerted effort to destroy public schools in this country. She makes clear that, contrary to the claims being made, public school test scores and graduation rates are the highest they’ve ever been, and dropout rates are at their lowest point.
She argues that federal programs such as George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top set unreasonable targets for American students, punish schools, and result in teachers being fired if their students underperform, unfairly branding those educators as failures. She warns that major foundations, individual billionaires, and Wall Street hedge fund managers are encouraging the privatization of public education, some for idealistic reasons, others for profit. Many who work with equity funds are eyeing public education as an emerging market for investors.
Reign of Error begins where The Death and Life of the Great American School System left off, providing a deeper argument against privatization and for public education, and in a chapter-by-chapter breakdown, putting forth a plan for what can be done to preserve and improve it. She makes clear what is right about U.S. education, how policy makers are failing to address the root causes of educational failure, and how we can fix it.
For Ravitch, public school education is about knowledge, about learning, about developing character, and about creating citizens for our society. It’s about helping to inspire independent thinkers, not just honing job skills or preparing people for college. Public school education is essential to our democracy, and its aim, since the founding of this country, has been to educate citizens who will help carry democracy into the future.
Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System) offers a vital nonpartisan critique of the policies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and the school privatization movement. Backed by abundant data, she distinguishes between these policies and their enactment, which demands that students master achievement tests, while educators face decreased funding, firings, and school closures. Meanwhile, unprecedented amounts of tax dollars flow into private charter school chains. Ravitch convincingly analyzes the rhetoric of Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and other private/public school-choice advocates, whose campaigns and lobbying efforts for charter schools have created a network of corporations funneling millions of earmarked educational dollars into administrative salaries, rents, test-prep consultants, and textbook publishers. As Ravitch argues, the mission of public education preparing young people to take part in a democracy cannot be fulfilled by competition between private corporations and public schools to increase test scores in reading and math at the expense of other subjects. Her practical solutions include a return to localized school control, early-childhood education for all, better teacher training, mentoring, and retention, as well as better achievement metrics for students and teachers. Categorizing current policy as educational malpractice, Ravitch concludes with the suggestion that protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time. 41 graphs.
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I truly believe that every educator needs to read this book. It will give you insight in the direction that education is heading. it will help you understand why we are being attacked and how we need to be in the fore front of change.
One of the worst books I've ever read
Let me start by saying that I'm a Democrat and have always voted for the party. This book, however, is a blue print for why people hate Democrats. The book is the most bleeding heart and one-sided opus account of the U.S. educational system. It's solutions are to throw endless sums of money after the problems without any account for the realities of public funding. Don't waste your time or money reading this book. You will need every nickel you've got if the author gets the reforms she's asking for because taxes will comprise 100% of your future salary.