Editor’s note: Diane Ravitch is probably the best known voice in the U.S. who is a constant critic of what is today loosely clustered into “education reform.” A native of Houston, she is an education historian by training. She was an assistant U.S. Secretary of Education under President George H. W. Bush. She also served as a member of the National Assessment Governing Board which supervises NAEP.
Though she first supported No Child Left Behind, by 2010 she realized that this program, based largely on high-stakes testing and school choice, was failing the nation’s students and became an ardent critic. This lead to her writing the book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How testing and Choice Are undermining Education in 2010. This was a New York Times best-seller. This was followed by Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools in 2013. It was also a best seller.
Her blog gets 100,000 views per week. She and Anthony Cody began the Network for Public Education in 2013. I was on the original board of this organization. It now has more than 300,000 members nationwide.
It was recently announced that New Schools for Alabama, a Birmingham-based non-profit dedicated to helping charter schools get started in Alabama, was awarded a $25 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education.
Here is Ravitch’s post on this topic:
“Betsy DeVos was sad to see that Alabama had only four charter schools. So she awarded $25 million to an organization tasked with generating more private charters to drain money away from the state’s underfunded public schools.
The state charter commission has been mired in controversy since giving its approval to a Gulen charter school in a rural district where it was not wanted.
The rationale for charters is that they have more flexibility than public schools, but if flexibility from state regulations is needed, why doesn’t the state grant flexibility to its real public schools? Why doesn’t it abolish burdensome regulations and mandates for community public schools?
Next time you hear a pundit say that DeVos doesn’t have the power to do damage, think of her unilateral control of $440 million in the federal Charter Schools Program, which has become her personal slush fund.”