Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ravitch's Reign of Error: The best book on education you can read today

Diane Ravitch's latest book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools is available today.

I had the good fortune of getting a review copy in advance so that I could write a series of posts (starting today) about how important this book is to public education and our democracy.

Let me start off by saying that this is the most important book on education I have read since Alfie Kohn's The Schools Our Children Deserve. While Kohn's book focuses intensely on what classrooms should look and feel like, Ravitch's Reign of Error articulates what a progressive and democratic education system should look and feel like.

Who should read this book? 

School reform's reign of error is not confined to the United States. Pasi Sahlberg has rightfully identified the Global Education Reform Movement (GERM) that has infected public education systems worldwide. Anyone and everyone who cares about our public education and democracy needs to read this book.

Diane Ravitch writes:
The corporate reform movement has a well-honed message: We are the reformers. We have solutions. The public schools are failing. The public schools are in decline. The public schools don't work. The public schools are obsolete and broken. We want to innovate. We know how to fix schools. We know how to close the achievement gap. Great teachers close the achievement gap. Teachers' unions are greedy and don't care about children. People who draw attention to poverty are just making excuses for bad teachers and failing public schools. Those who don't agree with our strategies are defenders of the status quo. They have no solutions. We have solutions. We know what works. Testing works. Accountability works. Privately managed charter schools work. Closing schools with low test scores works. Paying bonuses to teachers to get higher scores works. Online instruction works. Replacing teachers with online instruction not only works but cuts costs while providing profits to edu-entrepreneurs who will spur further innovation.
This book was written to challenge those who believe in the corporate reform movement. This book was written for those who are aware of the ills of the corporate reform movement but need more facts to articulate a sound argument. This book was written for those who suffer from apathy and cynicism. This book provides the energy and encouragement we need to provide schools that all of our children deserve.

The only thing necessary for destructive mandates and cancerous education policies to succeed is for good teachers, parents and students to say and do nothing. When far-off authorities invoke their ignorance with the force of law, remember that your silence is read as assent -- and at some point your silence is betrayal to those who do speak up and take action.

It is said that Franklin D. Roosevelt once met with a group of activists who sought his support for legislation. He listened to their arguments for some time and then said, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it." The spirit of Roosevelt's advice is likely what inspired Robert Reich to say, "Nothing good happens in Washington unless good people outside Washington become mobilized, organized, and energized to make it happen."

Like democracy, public education is reserved for those who fight for it, and Diane Ravitch's Reign of Error is the rally cry we can use to mobilize, organize and energize the fight for our public schools.

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