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

Diane Ravitch. Knopf, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-35088-4
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. Agent: Glen Hartley, Writers’ Representatives. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/22/2013
Release date: 09/17/2013
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