Thursday, January 16, 2020

Gayle Lakin Reviews Ravitch New Book, Slaying Goliath

Ravitch explains myriad ways that charter school operators have earned extraordinary salaries at tax payer expense!     Gayle Lakin 
I'm really looking forward to reading Diane's new book. Here Gayle gives us lots of reasons to do so. Instead of the misleading "ed reform" even when put in quotes, Diane uses "Education disrupters". Just look at how Bloomberg/Klein disrupted and deformed (my preferred term) education here in NYC.
ADDITION: Also Read Gary Rubinstein review: The Life And Death Of The Terrible Education Reform Movement

Gayle Lakin Review
Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools.
Amended Jan. 18:
No words can possibly convey the degree of spin, erroneous data and persistent support of outright fabrications that became “truths” under a relentless “ed reform” mantra; say it enough, spin it enough, publish it enough, work the system enough and it will become “true” enough. But “enough is enough”! Ravitch heroically and successfully wades through this complicated decades-long haze in her book, Slaying Goliath with her trademark attention to detail. She brings clarity as to how “ed reform” (she prefers “ed disrupters”) birthed charter schools with the intention of privatizing our national education system and how and why this “grand scheme” is currently and fortunately starting to burn out!

What might a reader’s first reaction be? There isn’t a rock big enough for “ed disrupters” to crawl under to escape the raw truths exposed in this book. Ravitch names people and companies (and there are many). She thoroughly explains the tactics of those ultra-wealthy hedge-fund managers, philanthropists, CEO’s, big businesses, politicians and the likes playing into and profiting by the “ed disruption” takeover of our national education system via a “Trojan horse” also known as the charter school (which is assuredly not a public school even though it receives public school funding). The current charter school concept is totally foreign to the original idea put forth by Al Shanker who originally intended for a charter school to be a public school within a public school to serve the needs of outlier learners. Ravitch details Shanker’s actual vision. Who would know better as he spoke to her directly about his vision which she describes in her book!

With equal clarity, she explains in detail how the corporate world co-opted the term “charter school”, and turned it into a highly profitable and parasitic entity able to take public tax payer money as well as corporate money while being beholden to nobody except those making enormous profit. Ravitch explains myriad ways that charter school operators have earned extraordinary salaries at tax payer expense! Here are just a few key words and phrases that come to mind - nepotism, real estate wheeling and dealing, forced student attrition and inflated student enrollment figures. The tides are changing due to an ever-increasing Resistance. The Resistance is led by academics in higher education like Ravitch as well as public school educators and angry parents who have been activists for years and have had enough with the “ed disruption” invasion. A few politicians are finally starting to awaken at a snail’s pace, but perhaps this will be addressed in a future book?

One major take-away is that the majority of charter schools at best have fared no better than public schools. More often than not they have either fared worse or have gone to great lengths to create the illusion of performing “better”. The net result – the majority of charter schools drain critical funding away from public schools. Ravitch exhaustively explains this money drain and how it destroys public schools. She exposes the rampant fraud leading to under-enrolled charters, charters led by non- educators and unqualified teachers, charters that close nearly as soon as they open with no accountability as to where the public funds went and no concern for displaced students.

The facts are there in her book to read. There has been some accountability and it has ironically lead to the realization that public funds were spent on overinflated salaries, lavish cars, homes bought by heads of defunct charter schools etc... Ravitch cites several examples (including cases that have been through the courts and involve criminal convictions)! Meanwhile, public schools perpetually accept displaced charter school students without getting additional funding even when students transfer from the charters who received money for them. It is outrageous that charter schools who no longer have a particular student, keep the federal money they received for that student!

The public at-large needs to read this book to get fighting mad at “ed disruption” over decades of abusive and failed education policy forced upon our nation’s children; to get fighting mad at “ed dispruption” for tearing up communities with public school closures; to get fighting mad at “ed disruption” for the denigration and counter-intuitive policies forced upon the teaching profession; to get fighting mad at “ed disruption” for making learning all about gaming high stakes tests; to get fighting mad at “ed disruption” for the incredible waste of hard-earned taxpayer money that went straight into the pockets of “ed disruption” profiteers.

In this book, all bases are covered as to how “ed dispruption” systematically strategized to destroy public schools. The playbook for “ed disruption” takeover is thoroughly exposed. Critically needed federal school funding was purposefully linked to States’ adoption of Common Core standards and high stakes testing accountability (both of which were created by “ed disruption”). The reader will learn the role of disruptive innovation strategies, on-line personalized learning, skewed data, high stakes testing “miracles”, charter school proliferation, public school closings and more. If any of this is unfamiliar, it won’t be by the time you finish reading this book.

I am a veteran public school teacher (art) and highly recommend this book because knowledge is power. Ravitch often mentions the word Resistance in her book. Many teachers and angered parents who will rush out to get her book will surely learn a lot, but must get the “Resistance ball” rolling. I implore you to forward your own read copy of this book to someone or to buy a second one. Give her book to that person you encounter who has taken in all the “ed disruption” Kool Aid. You know them. The “proverbial” person who might vilify those “lazy” public school teachers who are always angry about their good salaries with pensions… and with all those vacations and summers off! The individuals who still believe that charter schools are going to save our education because they saw Michelle Rhee on the cover of Time Magazine. Perhaps they read the US News & World Report with its annual high school rankings (and many of the “best schools” are charters) and believe it. Ravitch will enlighten them about these myths and any other “ed disruption” truths they’ve taken for gospel!

Ordinary taxpayers (We The People) need to know NOW just who is wasting taxpayer money along with the how and why. It is time to restore public education and bring joy to the learning process for our nation’s youth. With an election upcoming, it is essential for presidential candidates and citizens alike to understand what has happened to public education and how this nation can begin to implement effective education policy via our democratic cornerstone – public schools. The current generation and future generations of our nation’s children deserve nothing less! The Goliaths (“ed disrupters”) have been exposed. The David’s (“We The People”) are gaining steam and not backing down! But Slaying Goliath is not the full title of this Ravitch book. The full title is Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools. The call to arms in this Resistance is a book – Diane Ravitch is the author! Read it! Pass it on to someone who needs to learn from it!


  1. It's hard to take Diane's attack on charter schools seriously, especially when you read her NPE position statement on charter schools. Here's a clip of the crucial part, which endorses the indefinite continuation of thousands of the segregated, no excuses charters, with no end in sight and with no strategy to get there if there was one:

    ". . .we recognize that many families have come to depend on charter schools and that many charter school teachers are dedicated professionals who serve their students well. It is also true that some charter schools are successful. We do not, therefore, call for the immediate closure of all charter schools, but rather we advocate for their eventual absorption into the public school system. We look forward to the day when charter schools are governed not by private boards, but by those elected by the community, at the district, city or county level."

    No doubt "Goliath" will sell a bunch of copies and put Diane in the position to speak for actions for which she has played zero part. It will also serve to revise the history of this little ragtag resistance movement to fit within the politics and aspirations of the corporate union movement.

    1. It's hard to take her attack on charter schools seriously?


      She has waged a daily battle against them on her blog for years. Her organization has done extensive research to detail fraud and abuse in the charter industry. She has written several highly successful books detailing this fraud and abuse. She has a new one out right now. Please. Ravitch is the de facto leader of the anti-privatization movement. Bless her.

  2. I disagree Jim. We both have been involved in this battle a long time, me since the mid 90s but especially since 2001. Few people were listening to us. When Diane received the john Dewey uft award c. 2002 progressives were outraged. Her transition to our side has a major impact and shook the establishment. Multiple times a day she publishes every charter scandal and has the widest readership. Really, compare the impact people like you and me have had to hers in the battle. The tide turned and she was major.

  3. I wish I could agree with you about the tide turning on corporate education, but I've seen little evidence of it, other than the appearance of books where wishful thinking takes the place once reserved for sober analysis. If you were a reading teacher or a child learning to read, you might think differently. Or if you were an "at will" underprepared teacher in one of the thousands of charter hell schools that Diane continues to endorse, I think you might think differently. Or if you were part of a school system facing the takeover of "competency-based" techamania, you might reconsider.

    As for the UFT handing Diane the John Dewey Award at a time when she was a leader of the education genocide, that says much more about UFT than it does about Diane. If UFT had a Paulo Freire award, they would probably offer it to, hmm, Marc Tucker, or Rick Hess, maybe. Oh, I know--Checker Finn.

    Diane continues to do what she does best--mislead teachers and exhausted activists who are susceptible to her carefully-packaged wishful thinking. Her brand of resistance actually weakens the resistance, and she makes public ed policy and the profession subject to the manipulations of Wall Street Democrats who own AFT and NEA.

    Lastly, I humbly admit a very modest role in the resistance movement aimed to disembowel the corporate ed reform monster. That said, I am glad to be of service to Diane Ravitch, who has remained unfettered over the past 10 years in using the work of others to do what she does.

    1. I feel I've had my fingers on the pulse of the resistance since I ran into George Schmidt at a tech convention in Chicago c. 1999. There was no larger figure other than Susam Ohanian possible and many of us gathered in Birmingham in 2003 to oppose NCLB. I think our film in 2012 was a major shot at deform and it would never have gone worldwide without Diane promoting it and being our keynote speaker at the premiere which attracted 650 people. I've also seen her move steadily left - I think from a Hillary backer in 2016 to much more favorable to Bernie. I really don't think you are being very fair. Certainly there are things to be critical of but her platform is immense and probably the most effective propoganda we have. If you or I wrote a book no one would know it. And yes. I do support the work of NPE --
      I don't see Diane supporting charters when multiple times a day she reports on every scandal. And she also reports on every teacher strike and resistance action. As for the AFT/UFT - she went from outright support to being critical if not always in public but privately. Some of her associates even slip me items to publish. But I don't expect her to break long-term relationships with the union --- she is a political animal and that is not the worst thing.
      Making alliances is part of the war and look at least some of the Dems shying away from charters. and the big battle in MAss a few years ago which Diane supported. Here we have to battle the enormous charter money trying to lift the NYC cap and at least the union has drawn a line there. To dismiss Diane's role in all this is shortsighted,

  4. My review of Dr. Ravitch's important book:


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