BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company, the high cost of turning our schools into profit centers.

DIANE RAVITCH: In terms of the public coffers there are billions of dollars, but I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is the foundation stone – one of the foundation stones of our democracy. So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.

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BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Charter schools are booming, and controversial. There are now more than 6,000 across the country, double the number from just a decade ago. They’re publicly funded, but privately run. And whatever you think about the merit of charter schools versus public schools, merit is no longer driving the debate. What’s driving the debate is money. The charter movement is now part of the growing privatization of public education and Wall Street sees an emerging market.   Take a look at this piece published last fall on Quote, “…dozens of bankers, hedge fund types and private equity investors…” gathered to discuss “…investing in for-profit education companies…” There’s a potential gold rush here. Public education from kindergarten through high school pulls in more than $500 billion in taxpayer revenues every year, and crony capitalists and politicians alike are cashing in. Example, “In Ohio, two firms [both contributors to Republicans] operate 9 percent of the state’s charter schools and are collecting 38 percent of the state’s charter school funding increase…” In Philadelphia, a democratic stronghold, “…23 public schools closed for good …” last summer, “…to be replaced by charters.”

Here in New York City, progressive Mayor Bill de Blasio set out to curb the charter school poaching of public education. But in recent weeks the charter movement, bankrolled by wealthy financiers, struck back hard with a media campaign costing more than three-and-a-half-million dollars.

ANNOUNCER in The Faces of Success Academy Harlem Central Ad: These are the 194 faces of Success Academy’s--

WOMAN in Parents in Their Own Voices: Charter Schools Work Ad: My daughter would have a better opportunity at a charter school--

ANNOUNCER in Parents in Their Own Voices: Charter Schools Work Ad: Mayor de Blasio wants to stop them from opening and expanding--

SHAMONA KIRKLAND in Charter School Parent Shamona Wants Unlimited Potential for Her Daughter Ad: I voted for de Blasio, but I didn’t vote for you to take my child’s future.   BILL MOYERS: Under this withering assault, Mayor de Blasio has turned conciliatory, determined, according to The New York Times, “…to avoid the wrath of a well-financed charter-school movement.” Even dialing up billionaires personally, asking for a truce.   The private buying of public education has brought a piercing cry of alarm from my guest. Once a champion of charter schools, she has changed her mind, and that was a reversal that struck home with a seismic wallop.   Diane Ravitch is our preeminent historian of education. She has worked for presidents from both parties, and served as an assistant secretary of education. She’s a scholar with a popular following, in the last year alone her website has received more than 8 million visits. Her teaching, writing, and advocacy have long influenced our debate about schools and the public policies that affect them. And her latest book is a best seller, "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools." Diane Ravitch, welcome.

DIANE RAVITCH: It’s wonderful to be with you, Bill.

BILL MOYERS: We're talking about big money, aren't we?

DIANE RAVITCH: Absolutely. Minimum, at least, from the estimates I've seen it's a market of $500 billion. Now we--


DIANE RAVITCH: Yes. An annual market of $500 billion. So the entrepreneurs do see it as huge opportunities to make money. There are now frequently conferences, at least annually, conferences on how to profit from the public education industry. Now I never thought of public education as an industry. But the entrepreneurs do see it as an industry.

They see it as a national marketplace for hardware, for software, for textbook publishing, for selling whatever it is they're selling, and for actually taking over all of the roles of running a school. This is what the charter movement is. It's an effort to privatize public education, because there's so much money there that enough of it can be extracted to pay off the investors. But I think what's at stake is the future of American public education. I'm a graduate of public schools in Houston, Texas, and I don't want to see us lose public education. I believe it is the foundation stone, one of the foundation stones, of our democracy. So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.

BILL MOYERS: The people behind privatization, you say they're flush with cash. Where is it coming from? Where does this money trail start?

DIANE RAVITCH: You have to understand that firstly we do have a significant number of for-profit charter schools. They're not the majority, by any means. But they're driving a lot of the legislative changes. There is also the power of the federal government.

Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, put out $4.3 billion called Race to the Top. And he said to the states, you can't be eligible for any part of this money unless you lift your cap on charter schools. So suddenly the lure of getting that federal money made many states change their laws to open the door to many, many more charter schools.

So that's really what driven the increase in charters. But what-- the other thing that's driven them is that there is a tremendous political force of very wealthy hedge-fund managers who are investing in the charter-school industry and seeing it grow. And so they have fought for these laws. There's also a lot of charter school money going as political contributions to legislators in many of the states where the charters are booming.

BILL MOYERS: There's a move right now to change Dallas into a chartered district. And it's promoted by the billionaire John Arnold, who's been in the news recently for his views on pension plans. Do you take that sort of thing seriously?

DIANE RAVITCH: I think it has to be taken seriously because John Arnold of course wants to change public-sector pensions. And I have kind of a visceral negative reaction to the idea that someone who is a billionaire doesn't want to see a public employee retire with a decent living pension that they've put into all their life. So I don't like the idea that billionaires who have no appreciation of the importance of public education want to change it to their liking. No one elected John Arnold to do this.

But I think that Dallas is at risk. And the people of Dallas don't want this. And I think if we, if democracy works in Dallas, they will reject this idea of somehow taking Dallas and turning it, the whole city, into a charter district.

BILL MOYERS: You have said that within ten years, there'll be cities in this country without public education.

DIANE RAVITCH: I think at the rate we're moving now, we will see places like Detroit, New Orleans, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and many, many other cities where public schools become, if they still exist, they will be a dumping ground for the kids that the charter schools don't want. We will see the privatization of public education run rampant.

BILL MOYERS: But not everyone will grieve with you over the loss of public education. There are parents across the country who feel that public schools have let them and their children down. And they're looking for alternatives. They’re not going to grieve with you.

DIANE RAVITCH: One of the points that I wanted to make strongly in this book is that American public education is not failing. It's not declining. It’s not obsolete.

BILL MOYERS: Contrary to the prevailing public mythology?

DIANE RAVITCH: Absolutely. American public schools deal with immense problems. The biggest problem in our society today is that nearly 25 percent of our children live in poverty. And most of those kids will go to public schools and will bring all their problems through the door. And teachers will tell you they have kids in their classroom where a parent was murdered, where the children didn't getting anything to eat yesterday. Where the children are homeless.

These are the problems our public schools are dealing with. And they're, in most cases, doing an absolutely heroic job. But where public schools are in trouble it's because the community's in trouble. And instead of breaking up public schools and sending the kids off into the hands of some entrepreneurs, we should be addressing the needs and problems of the children.

BILL MOYERS: If the for-profit motive were taken out of charter schools, do you think they have potential?

DIANE RAVITCH: No, because I think that what charter schools should be is what they were originally supposed to be. They were originally supposed to be a collaborative, cooperating with public schools, trying to solve problems that public schools couldn't solve. The original idea was that they would go out and find their dropouts and bring them back.

They would help the kids who lacked all motivation and bring these lessons back to public schools to help them. What they have become is competitors. And they're cutthroat competitors. And in fact, because of No Child Left Behind and because of Race to the Top, there is so much emphasis on test scores, that the charters are incentivized to try to get the highest possible scores.

And now that there are so many hedge-fund people involved, they want to win. They want to say to these guys who are on another school board, my charter got higher scores than yours. So if you're going to make scores the be all and the end all of education, you don't want the kids with disabilities. You don't want the kids who don't speak English. You don't want the troublemakers. You don't want the kids with low scores. You want to keep those kids out. And the charters have gotten very good at finding out how to do that.

BILL MOYERS: Charter schools are not all bad, are they?

DIANE RAVITCH: They're not all bad. The worst thing about the charters is the profit motive. And I want to reiterate that most charters are not for-profit. Although many of the non-profits are run by for-profit organizations. For instance, in Ohio, where they're overrun with for-profit operations, they're actually not for-profit charters. It's just they're run by a company, in one case, called the White Hat company. Which has extracted about a billion dollars in taxpayer funds since 1999.

In Florida where there are some nearly 600 charter schools, they're overrun with for-profit schools. There's a charter empire in Southern Florida where the brother-in-law of the guy who runs the charter empire, which is worth more than $100 million, is in the state legislature and is in charge of education appropriations. And he never recuses himself. And the charter industry has basically taken over the legislature of Florida.

In Michigan, more than 80 percent of the charter schools operate for-profit. They don't get good academic results, by the way, but they make a lot of money. And the worst of the charters, frankly, are the virtual charters. This is a moneymaking machine.

BILL MOYERS: Virtual charters?

DIANE RAVITCH: Yes, these are charter schools that have no, actually, no physical school. And they advertise very heavily. And they're in many states. The biggest of the companies is called K12. It was funded by Michael Milken and his brother.

BILL MOYERS: Michael Milken of junk bond fame.

DIANE RAVITCH: Right. And they're very profitable because they get full state tuition signing up kids to learn online.

NARRATION from K12 Inc. Ad: Online learning from K12. […] K12 program is customized. […] K12 is a fully accredited program. […] Call or visit today.

DIANE RAVITCH: So the kids are basically home-schooled, they get a computer and textbooks and then they learn online.

BILL MOYERS: So they make their money from the state funding?

DIANE RAVITCH: Right. So they get full tuition money and all they give out is a computer and they may have one teacher monitoring fifty or a hundred screens, in some cases, more than a hundred screens. The teachers are low paid. They don't have any physical building to take care of, no custodians, no social workers, none of the regular expenses of a school. They're very profitable. K12, by the way, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

BILL MOYERS: On your blog, there's a speech by the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings. He seems to be saying that 20 years from now, 90 percent of our schoolchildren will be in charter schools. And that we have to get rid of school boards, because all this democracy is very messy. And everything should be should be managed by charter-like boards. Is that the endgame, is the charterization of American public education?

DIANE RAVITCH: I think for many people in the charter movement, that is the end game. They want to see an end to public education. They continue to say that charter schools are public schools. They are not public schools because they say in court, whenever asked, we're private corporations with a contract with the government.

In fact just recently there was a decision in New York that charter schools can't be audited by the state controller because they are not a unit of the government. In California there was a decision in the federal court saying, charter schools are not public schools. They're private corporations.

BILL MOYERS: So this puts their accountability off limits, right?

DIANE RAVITCH: Right. And in fact, in many states, the charter schools don't have to hire certified teachers. So we're moving in a direction that is harmful to democracy. That is not good for kids. And that will not improve education. And so when you say how do I feel about the charter movement, I'd say that it should return to its original purposes, which is to help the neediest kids. To seek out the kids with the lowest test scores, not the highest ones, and to do, to collaborate with public education to make it better.

But what it has turned into, and I think that Reed Hastings' speech puts that very well, is an attack on democracy and an effort to replace public education. That if 90 percent of all the kids are in charters, the other 10 percent that's left, that's called public schools, will be the dumping grounds for the kids that the charters don't want. That's a direct attack on our democracy.

BILL MOYERS: Would you concede though, Diane, that it's possible, Reed Hastings and others, believe that democracy can't solve these problems, that you need private entrepreneurs who know how to get things done to run these schools?

DIANE RAVITCH: Well, the problem with letting the entrepreneurs do it is they know nothing about education. I think what Reed Hastings doesn't understand is that the highest-performing nations in the world don't have charter schools and do not have voucher schools. The highest-performing nations in the world have a very fine, very equitable public school system.

I was in Finland not long ago. They aim to have an equitable school system. And it doesn't matter where you go to school in that country, you will find a good school. That's what we should be aiming for. You aim for equity and you will get excellence.

BILL MOYERS: When you were on the money trail, looking at how this money influences the movement, you ran into the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC. What did you learn about ALEC?

DIANE RAVITCH: ALEC is an organization, as I discovered, that's been around since 1973. It has something like 2,000 or more state legislators who belong to it. And ALEC is very, very interested in eliminating public education.

It has model legislation, which has been copied in state after state, in some cases verbatim. ALEC wants to eliminate collective bargaining, and it's done a good job on that. It wants to eliminate any due process for teachers, so that teachers can be fired for any reason. It wants teachers to be judged by test scores. It's done a really good job of that. It wants charter schools, it has a charter legislation, it has voucher legislation, it has legislation to promote online charter schools. So the whole package of what's called reform is being pushed very hard by ALEC. It's being pushed very hard by a group called Democrats for Education Reform.

That's actually the hedge-fund managers' organization. So you get the combination of ALEC with its state level, very far-right-wing legislators, who have taken over some legislatures. For example, North Carolina is now completely ALEC-governed. And they have enacted everything in the ALEC package.

BILL MOYERS: Where does ALEC’s money come from, as you've found it?

DIANE RAVITCH: ALEC has major, major corporate funding. It's hard to find a major corporate group that is not part of the corporate sponsorship of ALEC.

BILL MOYERS: What's their motive?

DIANE RAVITCH: ALEC wants money to flow freely throughout the economy. They do not want any restraints on how they spend and where they spend. They don't even want to be audited if they could avoid that. That's why the charter schools, for example, have fought in court to prevent public audits, because they share this philosophy that what they do is their business.

Bill MOYERS So when you set out to follow the money and see how money was driving the privatization movement, what surprised you the most?

DIANE RAVITCH: What surprised me the most, quite frankly, was the lack of any leadership in the democratic party to say no. And as I saw the amount of campaign contributions in state after state going to both parties, as I realized that anyone who wants to run for president has to go to Wall Street, it became very frightening to think that there might be a political way to actually stop this movement to destroy public education and to monetize public education. So that was very surprising. And I have gone from state to state, I've met with many governors, I've been searching for the political figure who will stand up and say this is wrong. The closest that I've seen so far is Jerry Brown. But Jerry Brown's my age. He's not going to run for president.

What I'm hoping for is that there, somewhere out there is a senator, a governor, a congressman who will say this has to stop. Public education is an essential part of our democracy. And I don't want the hedge-fund manager's money to sell out my public schools.

BILL MOYERS: You’re almost as old as I am. What keeps you going?

DIANE RAVITCH: Well, you know, what really makes my juices flow is when I see billionaires picking on teachers. When I see billionaires who have never gone to public school, have never sent their children to public school, or their grandchildren, if they have them, proclaiming how schools should run and how teachers should teach.

I find myself outraged that our public school system is not being strengthened and improved. I don't want it to stay the way it is. I'm not defending the status quo. When I see a status quo that's controlled by the wealthiest people on our country in alliance with the political power in our country, it makes me want to rail against it. And I'm railing against it as best I can.

BILL MOYERS: You end your book in fact by avowing that, “…the public is not yet ready to relinquish its public schools to speculators, entrepreneurs, ideologues, snake-oil salesmen, profit-making businesses, and Wall Street hedge fund managers.” How can you be so sure?

DIANE RAVITCH: Well, it's because I see what's happening at the ground level. I-- working with other people in education, with parent activists, with educators, I helped to found a group called the Network for Public Education. We have parents, we have teachers, we have students, high school students, they're organizing all over the country to fight back.

In Providence, Rhode Island, it's the Providence Student Union. In Texas, it's the, what I call the moms against drunk testing. And they actually have a longer name than that. And there are parent groups in Ohio, in Indiana, in Louisiana, the Mama Bears in Tennessee.

In Florida, which is one of the keystone states for this kind of what I call corporate reform, where Jeb Bush basically owns that state. He tried twice to get across something called the parent trigger, where parents could take a vote and 51 percent of them could turn their school over to a corporation. And the parents of Florida, despite the fact that Florida has an all-red legislature, stopped that bill now twice. So I see parents of Florida and all over this country saying, we don't want the corporations taking over our schools. So it's the grassroots that I'm counting on. It's democracy that I'm counting on. Now can democracy beat big money? We'll find out later.

BILL MOYERS: You spoke recently in Austin and the title of your speech was “Why We Will Win."

DIANE RAVITCH: I was speaking to the Network for Public Education.

BILL MOYERS: That’s your group.


BILL MOYERS: Gathered from all over the country.

DIANE RAVITCH: They came from-- 400 people came from all over the country, they paid their own way, we had no corporate sponsorship, we had no foundation money, we actually raised money amongst ourselves to play scholarships for the kids to come, the high school students who came. So there are two reasons we're going to win.

Number one is because everything that these reformers, these so-called reformers, are doing is failing. The charter schools are not outperforming the public schools. And the voucher schools don't outperform the public schools. Despite not taking the kids that they don't want, vouchers do not outperform public schools.

Evaluating teachers by test scores, which is one of the big principles of these corporate reformers, has been a disaster. There are many cities and districts that have ended up firing the teacher of the year. There are many teachers-- we are having, in fact, a huge crisis in teaching because so many teachers are leaving the profession. There’s almost a full-frontal attack on the teaching profession so that whereas it used to be 20 years ago that the average teacher had 15 years experience, it's now down to one or two years experience.

Teachers are leaving the profession, because they hate this being evaluated by test score business, because it’s-- what the research shows now overwhelmingly, is that it’s inaccurate, it’s flawed, and good teachers are getting bad evaluations, because they’re teaching kids with disabilities. Or if they’re teaching kids who are gifted, they also get a bad evaluation, because the kids are at the ceiling, they can’t go any higher. So, everything that these guys are pushing has actually failed already. They’re not making schools better. And you can't fail your way to success. But that's only one reason why we're winning.

The other reason is we're organizing. Students are organizing, high school students are organizing. Teachers are organizing and saying they will not give useless tests. We have superintendents speaking out. There's one on Long Island who said, when the test scores come in, I'm throwing them out. They're garbage.

We have students in college organizing against this corporate takeover. So I see all these things happening. Whether it's Tennessee or Louisiana, state of Washington, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, and I feel very hopeful that democracy will win out over big money.

BILL MOYERS: Diane, we're out of time on the show, but let's continue this discussion online.

DIANE RAVITCH: I would love to.

BILL MOYERS: The book is “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.” Diane Ravitch, thank you for being with me.


BILL MOYERS: At our website,, we’ll link you to a story from the website about the continuing assault on public education, including how taxpayers in 14 states will put up nearly one billion dollars this year for private religious schools that teach creationism -- the myth that Earth is less than 10,000 years old, Adam and Eve were the first man and woman, and evolution is a lie. 

There's also a report on how Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York is lobbying the state legislature to allow huge tax deductions for the wealthy if they subsidize private schools. That’s all at I’ll see you there and I’ll see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

  • Web Extra: Public Schools for Sale?

    Preeminent education historian and public school advocate Diane Ravitch talks to Bill this week about the private sellout of public schools.

    In this Feb. 28, 2014 photo, Students from City School in Grand Blanc test the strength of their small, handmade boats at the Sloan Museum, in Flint, Mich. (AP Photo/The Flint Journal, Samuel Wilson)
    Web Extra: Public Schools for Sale?

Public Schools for Sale?

March 28, 2014

Public education is becoming big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an “emerging market.” As Rupert Murdoch put it after purchasing an education technology company, “When it comes to K through 12 education, we see a $500 billion sector in the US alone.”

Education historian Diane Ravitch says the privatization of public education has to stop. As assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, she was an advocate of school choice and charter schools; under George W. Bush, she supported the No Child Left Behind initiative. But after careful investigation, she changed her mind, and has become, according to Salon, “the nation’s highest profile opponent” of charter-based education.

On this week’s Moyers & Company, she tells Bill Moyers, “I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is one of the foundation stones of our democracy: So an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.”

Diane Ravitch is America’s preeminent historian of public education. Her newest book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools.

Don’t miss: More of Bill and Diane Ravitch’s conversation in this web extra »

Producer: Candace White. Segment Producer: Robert Booth. Editor: Rob Kuhns.

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  • Anonymous

    Of course it’s an attack on democracy. They don’t believe the USA IS a democracy.

  • Anonymous

    During the last State of the Union speech I was happy to hear Obama talk about a pre-kindergarten program but then cringed when he called it a “Race-to-the-top” for 4 year-olds! So now they want to add testing to that young age? Are they insane or just ignorant or both?!? This is the “left” who are turning our socializing public education system into a competitive/profit-driven one. Dr. Ravitch is right, it will take democracy and grass roots to fight back the tide. But will it?

    This is just one of many tests we now face that will determine if we can even call ourselves a democracy anymore. It is becoming clearer to me, that our free-market capitalist economic system is not compatible with democracy, that our system has only worked for as long as it did because we had socialist systems in place, such as public education, which kept capitalism in check. But it was a temporary stop gap that is increasingly full of holes. As these social systems erode, democracy is declining. We can all feel it and it frightens most of us so we cling to Republican or Democratic ideology in hopes of a solution. But this problem transcends parties. Republicans are unashamed promoters of this capitalist system while the Democratic elite repackage it in “progressive-sounding” terms, but look under the wrapping and it is basically the same.

  • Dawn McNary

    Thank you for taking the time to sit and have this discussion on such an important issue.

  • Rebecca

    Bill, once again you have taken the lead in speaking truth to power. I wonder if you have thought about a worth successor as you begin to step back?

    Regarding Dr. Ravitch’s brilliant and comprehensive comments, I would underline how critical it is to find myriad ways to support true public education and to fight back on all these fronts she has identified. Ignorance is the great partner of anti-democratic governments around the world. It is no accident that fewer and fewer students are becoming well and sufficiently educated as a public cause.

    As disheartened as your discussion has left me, I know that we must keep going and supporting good public education.

    Thank you.

  • John Gault

    Thank you Mr. Moyers for another explosive subject. What is labeled as the
    Public School System, I and those who know would call it the Public Fool System.
    Indoctrination centers where our children are being dumbed down on all fronts
    all by design. You may remember the recording by Pink Floyed back in the 80’s
    titled The Wall.

    Is there any wonder why the private sector has not taken advantage of the
    situation good or bad? In any case it all gets right back to the bottom line,
    money, not the children.

    Thank you to Diane Ravitch, bless her hart, for her input and sincere
    concern for the Public School System. She mentioned more then once about the PSS
    being the center of a Democracy. I had been taught that this country was a
    Republic when I went through the PFS, so what exactly was she referring to here?

    We know the entire issue is about the money, but the reality is some of the
    children will end up in a much better environment on all levels while others
    will go from the government controlled institution into a corporate controlled
    institution. Again, another opinion is what we call a government has morphed
    into a corporate fascist regime. It goes right back to the parents and their
    freedom of choice on how their children should be educated, but that also opens
    up a whole new can of worms.

    In my opinion the Public Fool System is a criminal controlled enterprise
    geared toward dumbing down and maintaining as much control as possible on those
    it teaches through life. This has never been more evident then today. The
    dumbing down of America has been a total success and will continue until we wake
    up to what is really going on around us. Especially for our children.

  • Anonymous

    A hot button issue for me, one of many issues that fall under the category of privatizing public institutions for profit. To a large degree, we are seeing the results of thirty years of brain washing of our young people by universities and other private institutions of higher learning who have been the big winners receiving lucrative donations from wealthy alumni and other well-to-do individuals who have a hidden agenda. These donations always have strings attached such as recommendations that the selected institution aggressively promote a curriculum that glorifies the ultimate dominance of a privatized and unregulated market based economic system in place of the existing tax payer owned public system. This has been the case in the various university business schools over the last three decades and we are now seeing the results of this propaganda in the form of an all out attack to totally dismantle our public sector !

  • Anonymous

    It IS a democracy–a representative democracy. The people opposed to it are fascists, and they are undermining the public sector to destroy our democracy’s underpinnings.

  • Anonymous

    Libertarian nonsense.

  • John Garang Chol

    The rich elites that are taking over public education are using TAX PAYER monies used to educate children to subsidize their Hedge Fund Private Corporations. THIS IS BS. It is just a scheme to get PUBLIC monies. They will deliver NO quality product. They have no record of success educating children.

  • Anonymous

    In all her long years, if she can feel hopeful at her age; then so can the rest of us.

  • Anne Tenaglia

    Thank you for having Diane Ravitch on your show. She is truly on the front lines of the pushback from those of us who are still teaching in public schools. She speaks the truth. In my little elementary school, our understanding of math and reading is much improved over what it was in the 80’s and 90’s. Until, that is, the reformers hit our city and it’s been a disaster for all ever since 2003. We cannot teach the way we KNOW works and must make sure to say all the buzz words and always keep in mind the test. The be-all and end-all test. Learning is all geared toward that elusive score. The teachers hate it, the kids hate it, and the parents don’t like it much either. 40,000 teacher organized across the nation against the privatization movement. We are growing every day. We WILL win!

  • Brian Charest

    incredibly important show. thanks, Bill Moyer for putting Diane on the show. for more on the subject:

  • Anonymous

    Weep for America. The cancervatism is terminal.

  • yourstruly

    Which lobbyists and which politicians should be charged with Treason?

  • Joan Harris

    Bits and pieces of information that I have on education reform just came together thanks to Diane Ravitch’s book excerpt. She connected the dots in frightening facts. Where do we go from here? Selling the idea that education reform was needed has made schools, teachers and students vulnerable to this assault by wealthy wanting more money and supported by our elected officials by both parties. Now I know why my former Govenor Mitch Daniels supports Arne Duncan and would like him to continue as Secretary of Education in future administrations. Ralph Nader was accurate when he said there is no difference between both parties.

  • Guest

    A large percentage of the money meant to educate our children will end up in the pockets of billionaires and politicians. We will have richer billionaires and less educated, under-served kids. This is what happens when there are no rules and no integrity in the marketplace!Capitalism Gone Wild! It would rather deprive and devour it’s young than stop generating profits for the monied elite.There is no way that Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, aren’t in in this debacle. The entire government is rotten to the core.

    P.S. Teaching someone how to pass a test is not the same as educating them.

  • Anonymous

    A large percentage of the money meant to educate our children will end up in the pockets of billionaires and politicians. We will have richer billionaires and less educated kids. This is what happens when there are no rules and no integrity in the marketplace! Capitalism Gone Wild! It would rather deprive and starve it’s young than stop generating profits for the monied elite. There is no way that Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, aren’t in in this debacle. The entire government is rotten to the core.

    P.S. Teaching someone how to pass a test is not the same as educating them.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks so much for having Diane Ravitch on the show. The money interests have worked so hard to silence information and discussion about this massive power grab. Her message needs to be heard.

  • Pat Branigan

    If corporations take over parents will have no choice at all. You cannot vote out a corporation and they do tend to dominate areas they move into. Just as Walmart destroys small business in any area they move into the huge education conglomerates that will be produced from this lucrative market will force out any small schools. They will use local government with their promise of huge profits and jobs to do so.

    An example of the corporate mess of administering public institutions are the prisons that are run by private companies. they hire untrained people and poorly pay them, these prisons are more violent and give less care to the prisoners they hold because of incompetent staff and uncaring staff. Ditto the nursing home industry.

    Do we really want to trust our children to the lowest bidder? Will we shop for the cheapest school? Can we pay for-profit prices for primary and secondary education and then exorbitant tuition for college? Some services do not translate well into the corporate system.

    Are we saying we cannot solve our problems with education that it seems the Scandinavian and German peoples have been able to do. they did not privatize their schools they just geared their governments toward the good of the people. Are we saying we are not as capable as they?

  • sharris

    Thank you for this story. Everyone reading, please share, share, share this where ever you can, by email or social – many people do not understand this topic, and they need to.

  • Anonymous

    Thank-you for this story. Please, everyone share this with your family and friends so they understand that the US is engaged in a corporate sell-off of our public education system. Both political parties are complicit.
    There is NO empirical evidence in the nonsense mandated in Race to the Top or by any edu-reforms touted by DoEd, The Gates, Walton or Broad Foundations, Jeb Bush, testing regimes, Value Added or Common Core.
    It’s a sad time when hedge fund mangers have more influence over education policy & practice than educators and parents.

  • Anonymous

    It really has become an assault on our democracy – all in the name of greed. The question is – what will kill our democracy first? Climate change which is becoming a reality faster than anyone thought – or the Koch Brothers and the Wall street takeover of our government and public domain? Stay tuned – for those of you who haven’t had your pension stolen by the Robber Barons yet.

  • Anonymous

    It was not ‘socialist’ (publicly-funded) systems which
    kept capitalism in check, it was anti-trust regulations, banking regulations, the Glass-Steagall Act and other legislation which has been chipped away at or removed over the last 35 yrs, crowned by the Citizens’ United decision. Government is for sale to the highest bidder, and this is the result.

  • Carol Corbett Burris

    Thank you both for this clear explanation of what is happening and what is to come. Public education is the new ‘real estate bubble’. When attempts to privatize social security failed, the capital moved to public schools.

  • GregoryC

    US is not a democracy and never has been. Re-read the Pledge of Allegiance. We’re a Republic. Except our representatives represent multinational corporations, hedge funds, lobbyists and not We The People.

  • GregoryC

    Yes, both parties are complicit — Diane Ravitch has written about our VP Biden’s younger brother, Frank, involvement in for-profit charter schools in Florida through Mavericks in Education Florida.

  • Anonymous

    The guest made some very good points to warn us against the charter school concept. The question is what reasons do Pres Obama & Mayer Emanuel gave for supportting the charter school program? Might it be that the public system is flawed like the one in DC? The problem seems to be a failed existing system..Why? Lack of parental support, over powerful unions & lack of funds are all part of the problem. If S. Chicago public schools are failing why not offer charter school to those parents who want their children to have a different education. Home schooling has out performed the public school system when it comes to educational results..which leads one to believe the public system is lacking.. Its a grave problem & church schools seem to have better results.. Charter school attraction seem to be closely related to the failure of the existing system where that failure exists: Chicago, Detroit, DC etc.. Is that they answer.. I don’t know but it may motivate the public school to correct their performance. I feel blessed to have been able to send our 5 children to an excellent public school system funded mainly by the real estate taxes & state govt. All 5 went on to college & are doing well.. education pays ..& a good teacher has my respect & support.

  • March Hare

    I’m going to take issue with your statement that “Home schooling has out performed the public school system when it comes to educational results”… How? Where? Whenever I’ve seen home-schooled students ‘reintroduced’ to my daughter’s classes, they’ve always been markedly behind.

  • Anonymous

    This report is nothing more than propaganda from the teacher’s unions, especially the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) which is the largest such union and was revealed last year to be providing funding to Diane Ravage, the guest, behind the scenes. Shame on you Bill for falling for this trickery.

  • Carol Andrus

    The kids “reintroduced” to public school are generally the ones for whom home schooling isn’t working, for whatever reason. The successful homeschoolers don’t go back to public school–they just go on to college.

  • Anonymous

    I am always amazed that Bill Moyers and many of the guests he has on, convince each other that they are being objective. How can such learned people not see, or choose not to see truth?

  • Rusty Wilson

    In NYC Mayor de Blasio came under such an all out assault for his attempt to rein in charter schools that he was forced to call the hedge fund millionaires and kiss their asses. They’d kill him if he gets too fart out of line as there’s too much money to be made in the private sellout of public schools.

    In the U.S. fact based evidence is now lost under ideologically based opinion favoring the centralization of wealth and power. With robotization and computerization there is no longer a need for an educated large human workforce. Therefor private schools will continue to educate our masters while charter schools will train their corporate drones. Public schools will institutionalize the permanently disenfranchised majority for slavery mainly in prisons for profit and through profitable social control mechanisms such as illegal drugs. Just ahead it’s back to child labor.

    Don’t be angry folks it’s only capitalism. The height of privatization(piratization) will come when people must pay for the air they breathe. But they’ll think that’s just fine as someday they’ll be millionaires even if they are semi literate.

  • Robert Thomas

    The fact that Ralph Nader was not only wrong but ridiculously, imbecilically wrong doesn’t mean that Arne Duncan is right.

    Duncan and those who think as he does about charter schools and so on have abandoned the public education program of educating all of a community’s kids for the dismal alternative of educating only those kids whose parents, though poor in means, are willing to aggressively and time consumingly seek better and more successful alternatives for their kids’ schooling.

    Unfortunately, too many kids in distressed communities have only parents or only a single parent who is too overwhelmed by circumstances to pursue these goals. Duncan and company have been beaten by this prospect into such a Sofie’s Choice: which will we save and which will we abandon? Their answer: we will save kids with capable parents. It’s not an acceptable answer for a decent people.

  • Robert Thomas

    The Wall was released in 1979, by Pink Floyd.

    As you make abundantly obvious, you didn’t need no education, neither.

  • Jon Schmidt

    What might be the truth, in your estimation?

  • Jon Schmidt

    DIane Ravitch served in the George Bush administration as Assistant
    Secretary of Education pushing national standards along with a
    privatization agenda. She has, thankfully, re-evaluated her position.
    Charter schools are not performing any better yet we continue to close
    public schools and fund charters? Why? This is the critical question
    that no one seems willing to answer. Charters have been around since
    the early 1990’s…that’s more than long enough to assess the damage.
    Seems to me that the real reason we’re not pulling back from charters is
    because of $$$$. There is a ton of money to be made by private
    corporations in the private sector. The more we take away from the
    public sector the more we damage our public spaces. In Chicago, there
    is a huge gap in expulsions. Guess who is expelling at far higher
    rates….charters. There is currently a bill pending in our General
    Assembly to require schools to report this data. Who’s fighting to
    kill this sunlight bill in committee? Yes, charter school owners and
    parents. Why might they want to do this?????

  • Anonymous

    Well my original comment has just been deleted by the moderator, which proves my point that there is little objectivity here. But to answer your question “The truth”would be, that public schools have been and are failing children and that Capitalists are not always the evil entities Bill Moyers likes to make them out to be. How about Bill admitting that Capitalism overall has raised the standards of people all over the World, more than any other system tried. Vouchers are the most democratic and yet he tries to scare people by remembering the time of segregation. I have yet to hear the unions being blamed, for fostering poor to mediocre standards at best.

  • Anonymous

    There is blatant censorship on this forum. I saw two perfectly reasoned opinions from 2 different posters that have just been deleted within the last 15 minutes. Bill Moyers, you should be very afraid…..of yourself.

  • Jon Schmidt

    I’m really not sure how you can claim that public education has been failing children. The real issue, in my estimation, is that we have deep inequity in public education. In Illinois, we have some school districts that fund per pupil at more than $22,000. We have other school districts that fund at $5,000. Guess which public school district has more resources, lower teaching loads, more assistants, lower counseling loads, more athletic and arts resources? In Chicago we are able to fund at $7,500 per student approximately. 85% of our students come from poverty situations. I’d really like to know how the Capitalist system has raised all boats in this patently unfair system of funding education.

  • Anonymous

    What exactly do you think parents should do? The education system, public or charter, is antiquated in education style and overwhelmed with an increasing population, increasingly poor. The charter schools are able to one thing different: they can require parental involvement. And that one thing means everything. The kid who is half asleep, understimulated, and undersupervised is going to be the kid who keeps everyone from learning anything, day in and day out. Many parents expect teachers and schools to do everything to raise their kids, without taking any responsibility. Our charter school has programs for special ed, tutoring, etc. It’s not low scores that matter about re-enrollment. There are many poor, and many non English speaking students. It’s not a gated community. The unifying factor is that all the parents care and are involved. I’m sorry that there are wonderful kids with rotten parents, but I just need my kid to get an education. The money is either going into the pockets of corrupt politicians, or charter school owners. Either way, that corruption is too remote from my immediate concern. I can’t send my kid to what’s basically a prison everyday because someday the public school might get better.

  • Joan Harris

    Ralph Nader aside, our two party system has been taken over by power mongers who use their wealth and not there wisdom to create a country in their own image. Their image of school systems being run like corporations, well, if it weren’t so appalling (to me), it would be laughable. Privatization is no longer a Republican ideology. Corporate lobbyists have had their way with our elected officials on both sides of the isle.

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  • Robert Thomas

    Every one of our neighbors who responds positively to the “statehouse (or city hall or U.S. Capital) should be run like a business” canard – and they are the majority – disagrees. We must change their minds. I hear nothing on this program (ever) and read nothing here that aids me in doing this. What is the way?

  • Robert Thomas

    Capitalism is successful for people and markets work. They don’t work perfectly for everything. We don’t trade in our children – as though they were the next new smart phone – when they don’t perform adequately. We don’t like trading in our kids’ schools and trading away their schoolmates, who are like their brothers and sisters and who are part of our homes, when things aren’t perfect (or even adequate), either.

    Teachers’ unions are overwhelmed with the imperative to acquire incomes for their members who compete for housing with neighbors who work 250 days a year by themselves working 180 days a year. This discrepancy is ignored by both sides, as a third rail of negotiation. All-year schools would seriously mitigate the power of teachers’ associations, if that’s what you want.

    Statistics clearly show that education quality between community directed, democratically elected school boards and those directed by charter autocracy achieve similar results. What the latter also do is gather and amalgamate and encourage determined parents, who, though often of reduced means, are capable of helping their kids achieve in other ways and in later schooling. This dismisses the kids with failing parents. That’s the difference in emphasis: on the one hand the scope is of those kids with parents who are diligent, even if poor of means; on the other hand, the scope remains… ALL of the kids.

  • Joan Harris

    There minds can’t be changed.

  • Elissa Jury

    I want parents like you to take a stand for the public good. Students like those you seek escape from have tremendous needs. Those needs should be met. Seek out public education choice instead private or public charters . Cast your vote for people who wish to save publication and change the discourse.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Sir, my faith is somewhat restored.

  • Gabriel Ross

    I can’t speak for this comment board and it’s moderation. But I don’t see how supporting public education is essentially at odds with capitalism. Who suggested that capitalists are ‘always the evil entities?’ In this instance, there are some corporate and commercial interests that are acting in their own best interest rather than in the best interests of students and the public. That does not negate the fact that capitalism in general has elevated the standards of people all over the world.

    I would have to ask you to elaborate and support some of your very generic, albeit fashionable, charges of public education. Just because some students are failing in school does not mean the teachers are failing to instruct. You’re assuming those students would be successful in some other situation. Have you got any type of evidence to lend credence to that suggestion? Maybe not all students are academically inclined?

    Vouchers are theoretically very democratic. But it would only work in practice if that amount of money would actually pay for an entire year of education which no plan has realistically done. I think that the economic viability of schools being affordable and cost effective requires schools to be of a certain size. Most proposals for vouchers are usually well under $5000/yr. What school could provide instruction for a year for that tuition? Typical private school tuition is easily 3-4 times this much. In an absolutist sense, it is still the most ‘democratic.’ But democracy is just a nice way of saying mob rule is some ways. I wouldn’t say that is necessarily very cooperative.

    I also don’t see how unions foster ‘poor to mediocre standards at best.’ What is your evidence for this?

  • Alex

    I understand where this is coming from, I too haver a visceral reaction to the idea that we are losing our public education system. or that education is falling prey to the larger denigration of our democracy by wealthy oligarchs. I do, however, take issue with some of Professor Ravitich’s claims. I’ve been involved with the education reform movement for the last seven years and, in my experience, people working in charter schools are very motivated by issues of injustice and inequality. They are trying to work within the system they have inherited, and while we can argue that this pursuit may do more harm than good in the long run, I’m quite sure that if I had to chose between sending my child to an urban public school or a charter school I would–like many many other parents–do all I could to get my child into a charter school. Yes, the public school system is working, but it’s working in the suburbs, not the inner cities. Yes, this is largely do to extreme poverty in urban centers, a legacy of white flight and free trade that our students did not ask for. Yes, the vast majority of public educators fight heroically to combat this legacy. But, charter schools often have the means and flexibility that public schools lack. I agree, they are not a solution, they are a form of privatization, they cherry-pick their students, they are too driven by test scores. All of these things are true, but I don’t see many middle-class white parents sending their children to urban public schools. It’s easy to bemoan the downfall of public education from afar. We need real solutions to change the funding of public schools; reform to better support public school teachers; reform to combat the poverty that is plaguing our inner cities. I’d much rather hear that conversation over the condemnation of charter schools who largely are trying to do whats best for children, even if it’s only a short term fix.

  • Anonymous

    I will refrain from being “fashionable” and state that I don’t fault teachers, many of whom, have a passion and want to have a positive influence in children’s lives, but I think their hands are often tied by the system, as well as by parents who don’t take enough of an interest, or teach their kids discipline.

    I don’t see how one can say that mediocrity is not encouraged in a system where a bad teacher can hide behind the union and not be fired. There has been ample evidence of this, many times across the nation, as well as administrative waste at the very top, that prevents that $5,000 from going a lot further.

  • Anonymous

    Parents can be involved in public schools too. We can’t generalize and say all public schools are bad. How do you know by the time your grandkids go to school that they won’t be sitting behind a computer being taught by a robot? We need to make sure the quality of education is high for everyone, get rid of the meaningless standardized tests, retain good teachers and not allow education to be a commodity like healthcare has become. Education is a basic right for all of us–it must not be allowed to become the next casuality of capitalism.

  • Anonymous

    Two points about Ravitch’s assertions:
    * People will consume, support and invest in quality. Obviously millions of Americans no longer equate public education with quality education. If my GM auto cuts out on me in the middle of the expressway, I am going to trade it in and buy another brand.
    * As exceptional as Moyers’ programs are, they need a counterpoint guest. I admire Ravitch. She is absolutely right in her assertions (public education is in trouble), but there was no real exploration of the “why” and “what can be done” of the issue. Moyers’ guests have opinions, and in most cases, they are just that – even those based on research. What they say is not the end-all-and-be-all.

  • Anonymous

    Education should not be a partisan issue. It is an everybody issue. When politicians pontificate about most issues, you can bet that they have not consulted the people most affected. In this case, that would be parents, educators and students. We got Affordable Healthcare because it was handled and decided upon by politicians, based on a need for greed and power.

  • JonThomas

    “If my GM auto cuts out on me in the middle of the expressway, I am going to trade it in and buy another brand.”

    Yeah, I know… I can imagine a person going out and laying down $20, 000 – $30,000 on a new car because their $100 alternator gave out.

    Come on, think for a second… No, you aren’t going to buy a new model because something broke. You’re going to fix it, and you know it. Unless you are an incredibly rich person you can’t afford to replace a car every time one breaks down. If you did follow your own faulty logic, what are you going to do when that so-called better car begins showing it’s faults?

    As was brought out in the discussion, there is a lot of talk about how bad public schools are, but considering their monumental task, the problems they encounter (with staff issues, student issues, parent issues, political issues, funding issues, curriculum issues…) they do INCREDIBLY GOOD!

    They are the vehicle that stands up to the most use, the most abuse, does the heaviest of lifting, and perseveres over the longest of hauls. They ARE the vehicle you want, you just are caught up in the momentary sexy, flashy advertisement of the guy trying to unburden your wallet of A LOT of money!

  • JonThomas

    When anyone lives in, and advocates for a society that promotes inequality, a person has no standing to complain about the results.

  • Paul

    I agree wholeheartedly! Opt Out is a strong form of direct democracy that needs to be used across the nation. If we take away the hammer being so effectively used to destroy our public schools, perhaps we will be able to begin real, positive reforms that build community rather than destroy community.

  • Paul

    Your first point is well addressed by Jon Thomas, see below. The second point begs the question, why waste valuable air time on a counterpoint when the majority of the 4th estate is under the control of Rupert Murdoch and his ilk?

  • Alex

    I’m not quite sure what you mean here, but platitudes aren’t answers.

  • Anonymous

    Where has public schools failed? What standards are you using to gauge “failure” or “success”?

    If police departments fail, do we close them or do we come together as a community and try to fix them?

    NO OTHER CULTURE on this planet closes public schools when things aren’t going as planned. THEY FIX THEM.

  • Anonymous

    In order to answer your question, you need to know something about Chicago politics. Arne Duncan became CEO of Chicago public schools for a reason, and it wasn’t because he was highly qualified for the position. During his tenure, he set up special magnet schools. Entrance to some of these schools was based on a lottery system. Sound familiar? However, some kids got in because they were on Duncan’s “clout list.” The Chicago Tribune broke the story:–20100322_1_schools-chief-arne-duncan-principals-david-pickens

    And here is another article from the Tribune that explains the why:

    Chicago’s corporate-style magnet schools produced no miracles! Yet, Duncan used that myth as a basis to form federal education policy that supports charter schools.

  • ACPhantom

    America is being transformed by the power of money. So much so one could easily claim that America is no longer a Democracy or a Republic. America has become a bank owned commercial enterprise who believes that profitability justifies all. That data collected over the past seventy five years shows that their way of thinking is wrong for the greater good of the people. It has only proven to benefit less than 10% of Americans to the determent of the other 90%. In short the wants of the few now out weigh the needs of the many. To put it plainly the American billionaire boys club wishes to turn this country into an empire similar to the one seen in Rome, complete with an aristocracy that would have us all bending knee to their presence. In the end, like in Roam, it will lead to a complete societal collapse. America proved this way of thinking was a road to nowhere after the crash of 1929. So why are we now repeating history? The greatness that was once AMERICA (as in We The People) was the path we were on from 1945 to 1975. Since then the rich have become richer, the poor have been growing poorer and the middle class has been shrinking. So how do we get back to repeating the good history instead of the bad?

  • JonThomas

    Yes, platitudes are often useless. However, my response is a short comment meant to express a very simple concept…

    The problems school systems face are reflective of the goals and values of this society, and in direct correlation with factors including, but not limited to…

    Racial inequality, gender inequality, poverty, the drug wars, extreme wage disparities, family education histories, family values… etc…

    In your comment you expressed some very similar ideas… but urban flight (for example) is a result of a system which rewards exploitation over sharing… individual self-interest over community empowerment… and merciless indifference over compassion. To continue, urban flight is what happens when community is measured by individual standards of success instead of standards of human decency… “I got mine… the rest of you can go to… (the urban centers!)”

    My short comment is not the apologetic sympathy for charter schools expressed by some who share your view, but a condemnation of a system and culture which creates the problems you decry in public schools.

    Again, in short, we are living in a society that rewards individual merit without regard for those who do not, or lack the ability and circumstances to, thrive under the criteria used for measuring success.

    You’ll never be able to fix the public school system without changes the system which it serves. If people think that they should get tax breaks for creating low wage jobs, then they cannot complain when the schools cannot afford to educate a competent workforce.

    Public school is a concept meant to serve a community. Individual achievement, measured solely by individual success, means exactly the opposite of community values.

    When people think they ‘built it themselves”… without understanding, or admitting to the role the public plays in building and supporting infrastructure, distributing services, and providing a secure atmosphere for prosperous, industrious activity… and try to escape the responsibilities which every citizen needs to carry in order to make a community function for ALL it’s members, then you – I – we, cannot be surprised when the schools (or any public endeavor) fail.

    The failures of the public school system is just as I have now repeatedly said, a failure of the system in which we live our lives.

    To want this society’s system is to want failure of those who cannot, or who do not want to succeed under the conditions set out for success.

    Charter schools are NOT as you expressed… “a short term fix.”

    Charter schools are the logical outgrowth of a society which eschews the weakest and offers incredibly outrageous rewards for those who do manage to, are able to, or who even want to succeed under the criteria set forth.

    Sorry I rambled through this comment, but really, my first comment boiled it down nicely… If you support what now exists as a system for this society, you can’t complain when power is self-promoting. You got what you asked for…

  • Anonymous

    What critics of charter and public schools fail to acknowledge why parents are making the decision to take their children out of traditional schools. Until these schools understand what it must do to win back these “customers”, charters and private schools will remain in demand.

  • Anonymous

    Many parents are basing their decisions on a good deal of right-wing corporate sponsored propaganda – and as stated in this interview, Wall street hedge fund types are spending millions to push the idea that Americans ought to “privatize” their public school system.

    The whole phoniness of it all is the lie that privatizing our public schools will lead to a better education outcome and that trusting Wall Street billionaires and large corporations for the public good of our country will lead to best results. It’s total hogwash.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers – why don’t you interview Dr. Howard Fuller – former Milwaukee Supt and one of the Black Alliance for Educational Options? Are you open to other views?

  • Anonymous

    The public schools weren’t good enough for Diane Ravitch. Like some she criticizes, she sent her children to expensive private schools.

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting how you always hear how what’s wrong with public school system is we spend too much money on it – and yet private schools will spend twice or not three times more per pupil than public schools.

    Instead of trying to work with our public school system – for the last couple of decades there has been an unceasing assault and propaganda by the right-wing and the billionaires to change public perception of our public schools – and to starve public schools from much needed monetary funding – so that they could then condemn the system, and then claim that if you just leave education up to CEOs, Wall Street banksters – and private entrepreneurs – that all the basic educational problems will just magically work out – once it becomes a for-profit enterprise.

    It really is a kind of obscenity upon our country – the level of greed that now has taken over our human values …

  • Anonymous

    Having worked in and with public schools since 1971, it’s disappointing to see responses like this. There are thousands of educators who have tried to improve district public schools. Some have improved – and part of the improvement has come because families now have new options.

  • Anonymous

    Amanda, remember that Ravitch send her children to private schools. As a former public school teacher, I found her criticisms of progressive public schools inaccurate.

  • Anonymous

    Having watched the Bill Moyer’s interview – and understood what was being said – it is disappointing to see this kind of obvious level of propaganda still being pushed without any kind of reasonable discussion. More corporate – billionaire talking points – I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re being well paid for it.

    Money isn’t everything – but it sure is becoming that way in America eh?

  • Anonymous

    Sean, why don’t you ask Mr. Moyers to interview former Milwaukee District Supt Howard Fuller. He has done far more to help improve public schools than Diane Ravitch. He also speaks all over the country.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, charters have developed in rural and suburban as well as urban areas.

  • Anonymous

    Mnparent – Diane Ravitch’s interview was clear and cogent. I think she well summed up the current situation and what is taking place right now – although clearly, you’re not one to admit it. By repeatedly stating that Bill should interview someone else – you are implying that somehow Diane is not an authority or expert here. Hogwash.

  • Anonymous

    I earn less than the average public school teacher in Minnesota. Having helped start alternative schools in Minnesota and other states, we heard similar opposition to creating options within public schools.

  • Anonymous

    This isn’t an “option” – it’s a Wall Street billionaire takeover. Wake up – smell the coffee.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Ravitch is a private school parent. She writes controversial articles and books. There are others with considerably more experience in public school systems like Howard Fuller, or Yvonne Chan or Dee Thomas, or Deborah McGriff (former Detroit Superintendent) who have different insights. Is Bill Moyers open to their views?

  • Anonymous

    You were reasonable until you stated “considerably more experience”. Sorry, that is a falsehood.

  • Anonymous

    Diane Ravitch’s credentials are rock solid. What she is saying here regarding the Wall Street push to privatize and make more profits (like these guys don’t have enough already) from our public education system – is clear, cogent and backed up with facts.

    Since they have failed taking over our Social Security system – it looks like the next best victim is our public school system. Billions are to be made – and once handed over to the CEOs and other corporate crooks, our public school system will be McDonalized into the lowest common denominator – and what a farce that will become.

    Putting greed and for-profit as the engine behind educating our American children would have disastrous consequences, as it already has had when it comes to our privatized prison systems and other public/privatized ventures (such as all the privatized and a good deal of corrupt contractors in our military now).

    The fundamental idea that privatizing our public systems will lead to better results – has no factual basis other than propaganda being pushed by billionaires on Wall Street.

  • Anonymous

    The Pledge of Allegiance doesn’t define our form of government. That’s done by the Constitution.

  • Anonymous

    Ravitch is a classic flip-flopper, back and forth, back and forth (along with being a private school parent) Some people have pushed for more options in public education for more than 40 years. Some people have pushed for decades for a variety of measures to assess accomplishments.

  • Anonymous

    Please describe Diane Ravitch’s experience teaching or being an administrator in a public school, or being in a public school PTA.

  • Anonymous

    So that’s been pretty much the sum of your comments here Mnparent. Ravitch is not credible (and by inference therefore, Bill Moyers is not) – and that other people should be interviewed.
    It’s interesting that you have not once mentioned any of the “facts” that Diane & Bill discussed in the interview. I wonder why that is?

  • Anonymous

    Please discuss some of the facts the interview instead of spreading mud about Diane Ravitch – which is the only point you have made here in the comments section.

  • JonThomas

    Instead of putting down Ms. Ravitch, why not discuss some of what you want brought out in the discussion?

    There are some excellent comments here. Why not add-to (even if that means to disagree) instead of tearing someone down?

  • Anonymous

    Jon, I’ve suggested several people who have much more experience (and success) improving public schools as possible interviewees. They would talk about project based learning, the value of public school options, allowing high schools students to take courses on college campuses for example. They would have a more in-depth, experienced view of barriers to improve public schools.

  • Anonymous

    The superintend of schools in the Twin Cities was hired to solve the failed public school system in Washington DC. I believe her name was Ms Rhee, an Asian highly qualified. She encountered such a degree of push back from the unions that she “threw up her hands & gave up.” Her words on PBS special about the poor school system in our nation capitol. I read the posts about the concerns of giant capitalist taking over our schools for money.. What difference is there between monopolistic unions & what their concerns are.? The parents in DC are locked into their unions & without competive charter schools where do they go? How many govt employees are sending their children to public schools. Choice is good.. The NEA is allot more powerful than what people realize. The New Mayor of NY City wants to eliminate charter schools to gain favor with his campaign milk cow, the teachers union.. One might have just as much fear about that situation as any person starting a charter school to market a good education.. No one is forced to go to the charter school, not like the failed public school

  • Anonymous

    Did you even bother to listen to the interview? You act as if Diane said nothing at all.

  • JonThomas

    Yes, I’ve read where you’ve said those things but this interview is what we are discussing.

    Before you put down Ms. Ravitch as a ‘flip-flopper’ (among other negative connotations you’ve used,) why not just include some just include some of the points those other people you suggested might bring up?

    For example… What other public school options? What is ‘project based learning?’

    You, nor I are on the content staff of this site or the show. There are literally 1000’s of people Mr. Moyers would enjoy interviewing, and even more that we would enjoy hearing from.

    I would probably even benefit from having you discuss some of the ideas you mention, but it takes away from the discussion to have negative, personal slights against the person being interviewed without even a discussion of why you see them as inadequet.

  • Flip64

    “No Child Left Behind… No Teacher Left
    Standing.” The corporatocracy clearly explained. Doctor “V’s” Legislation class predicted it for us back in 1979. “Condensing the infinite human dynamics involved with children of a vast multiethnic population into a profit-based corporate bottom-line product will create a self-propagating bureaucracy. There are huge profits to be made in research-assessments of failure using tax funded entitlements. It will become a top-heavy inverted pyramid with monies flowing upward to pad the coffers of the bean counters. Teachers, unlike any other ‘manufacturing’ profession, have no control of the supply aspect. They will be required to take parts from a myriad of different automobile types, assemble these on a speeded up assembly line, and turn out a specific vehicle…say, a Cadillac limo. For every teacher on that line, there will be half a dozen assessment professionals with clipboards paid for their data. This process is infecting other human-contact professions. Law Enforcement, Physicians, and Nursing are getting their share of the whip. However, our future has always been our children… NOT buckets of Studebaker,Ford, and American Motors parts designated to be a GM product.” That class was a lightning bolt. Doc was “spot-on” and heavily
    influenced my classroom dynamics when the Studebakers, Fords, Datsuns, VW’s, Fiats, Chevy trucks, and Plymouths took their seats. Ms. “K” had it right when showed me the concept,
    “Creciendo con amor… Poco a poco los estamos haciendo” translated into half a dozen different languages.
    God bless you, Maestro “V,”, wherever you are.

  • Anonymous

    Handing over our public education system to CEOs, Wall Street and entrepreneurs will make the problem worse not better.

  • Anonymous

    I will refresh my example.
    If my GM vehicle repeatedly cuts out on me in the middle of the expressway (a dangerous place, an unsettling experience), and if mechanics do their best but continue to deliver a faulty product for me to drive, and a couple along the way have even cheated me in the process of “repairing” my auto – yes, I am going to look for another brand. If I can, I will buy up.

    Having worked in public education administration, as well as for a large University System, I can tell you that our public education system is generally in decline. This is a big discussion, which is why I think Ravitch, though well-meaning, needed someone to ask her harder questions about the state of education. In my large metro area, the county in which I live has had three superintendents in five years. The first was indicted on fraud. The second is awaiting sentencing. The city school system is under scrutiny for student and teacher cheating. The other six large school systems within the metro are cracking under the weight of immigrant students, irresponsible teachers involved in sex scandals with students, stealing, and so on. Drug problems are rampant. And no, it is NOT Detroit.

    Apparently millions of parents across the U.S. are witnessing the same behaviors from their public school systems. In case you haven’t noticed, the U.S. is shifting away from centralized government in D.C. because it is failing us. Wait – correction: it has failed us. States are going on their own, to the extent possible, as are average citizens in creating and supporting schools in which they believe their most valued “assets” will receive a good education. Public ed. simply has too many problems and too many distractions.

  • JonThomas

    Yes, I agree. I can be verbose, I hope I didn’t ‘bury the lead.’

  • Anonymous

    Other people would more accurately describe the accomplishments of charter public schools. They would more accurately describe explain why growing numbers of people of color are turning to charters. They would describe the difference between being force to send children to clearly inferior schools, as compared to having a variety of options.

  • Anonymous

    And I have responded to Mr. Thomas, as a former administrator in public education – secondary and higher education, and as a former executive with a large national child-serving organization that has worked closely with public and private schools.
    Get your head unstuck with silly media memes, and you can improve your credibility. To note, Moyers is smart enough to vet and to invite guests who would be appropriate counters to Ravitch. She has a book to hawk.

  • Anonymous

    The problem here – is the only option being offered is handing over public education to more “private” control. And although – as you say, there may have been successes, Diane Ravitch in the interview points out that in several studies (not sponsored by Wall Street interests) have shown that charter schools – for the most part are not showing “better” results and some of them have turned out to be scams. Public accountability appears to be almost farcical in many cases.

    “Options” should mean more options in improving the “public school system” we have – not with providing options that make it weaker or get rid of it altogether and handing it over to people (and banksters) who’s main objective is to make a buck for themselves. That is not what our American “democratic” education should be about.

  • JonThomas

    Thank you for elaborating.

    I think you make good points.

    I do disagree though.

    I would rather see a much stronger, better-funded public school system than we have. It’s a difficult position for this nation to find itself in when so many competing, oft-implemented, then soon-replaced ideas cause even more havoc.

    I still stand by my figuratively asserted position from above. Public Education and the public school system should be much more valued than it is now. It should be fixed, polished, and renewed!

    Should it be brand new? Maybe, but the model should not be altogether scrapped.

    Education, especially public education is too important a proposition from which to divest. The results would continue to increase in degrees of devastation.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed that options should be part of local district as well as part of charter approach.

  • Anonymous

    Our public schools need to be improved – not abandoned – just so some billionaire can make even more billions.

  • Anonymous

    I for one would welcome any one of your recommended individuals. Other viewpoints are to be expected on PBS for complete debates.

  • Anonymous

    The wealthy long ago abandoned most urban public schools. They moved their children into private schools or into suburban public schools, where they receive significant tax advantages.

    But many of us are not advocating sending our children to private schools (as Diane Ravitch did). We are advocating improving urban public schools.

  • Anonymous

    Delighted to hear your openness – perhaps you recommend to Moyers that he interviews someone who supports the charter public school movement.

  • Anonymous

    Diane Ravitch is advocating the same here in this interview. But what she is also saying is privatizing public schools with charter schools is not working well – and is undermining our public education.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I think Charter Schools (such as Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone) originally brought to light the ugly underbelly of the teacher’s unions and the effect it was having on inner city urban schools. I think prior to that, teachers were sacrosanct right up there with nuns and saints. The early charters were started for very good reasons (to improve the outcome for students). They also disproved the fallacy that the problem with low performance was poverty. Those schools proved that by providing meals, more time on task, and better teachers (which they could do by paying them more but would not be allowed by the union) then they could get outcomes equivalent to any elite school. I think it has been in the last ten years that the wealthy for profit centers and ALEC identified the Charter School option as their way in the door, given that voucher systems have been defeated over and over, even in the deepest of red states like mine (Utah).

    I am adamantly opposed to privatizing our public schools. But am 100% for improving our public education, starting at the very top: Great teachers. But that will require some ugly truths be told, a revamping of what it means to be a teacher, and money. But I’d rather see that money go to great teachers, than Apple’s iPads or more superintendents and school boards.

  • Anonymous

    What I find so frustrating is that so many Americans have naively bought into this specious idea that self-serving greed, and profit (some very huge profits for a relatively few individuals, many of whom work on Wall Street) is somehow a magical bullet that will immediately solve the problems of our public institutions such as our schools (or even prisons).

    What instead invariably happens when our public institutions are handed over to private interest – is a race to the bottom, a McDonaldization of product and services – and often exploitative rates that rob the public if not end up being outright scams altogether. Given the coupled lack of oversight in our legislator – since our politicians our now also being bought off by the same private interests – the public is left out to dry.

  • Anonymous

    Counterpoint discussions are failed discussions. It’s A, no it’s B, A, no B…. Far better for you to hear all the reasons that fit in the 20 minutes why it is either A or B and then think about those reasons, rather than have the counterpoint guest remind you of the slogans that will allow your brain to shut down.

  • Anonymous

    Yes – but believing Wall Street billionaires (which Diane clearly states are pouring millions into the Charter school efforts) – believing they will take care of us – and that is our best and only option – is IMO just naïve.

  • Anonymous

    Something to think about: America’s funding model for ed. shows that we do not believe in public education. Remember, public money for education means your money may be going to educate the kids of people YOU DON’T LIKE. This is the crowbar private interests use to lever just enough public opinion into a position of support for “initiatives” that will not benefit most of that public.

  • Rusty Wilson

    Believing that capitalism will not exploit the many for the benefit of a few and that the worst people will somehow benefit everyone – is IMO naïve.

  • Mimi

    I’d like to see the numbers comparing test scores of religious privately educated students, their employers satisfaction with their performance, and the amount of many spent on their education verses those of secular privately educated students, home schooled students, and publicly educated students in similar demographics.

  • Chris Jonsson

    I’m watching in Dallas and warning people what is going on here. It’s not good.

  • George Buzzetti

    The fact is that regular public schools have created the need for charter schools by, in general, not doing a good job and lying about everything. You must first know the budget, where the money comes from and how much for what, what the district does with the money and how that compares to the average. In California we have the advantage of the California Dept. of Ed. (CDE) website. On this site is all the information on every school district in California for the last 16 years and on every individual school for 11 years. When you compare this with the districts budgets it is amazing. For instance, LAUSD superintendent, Deasy, with the phony PHD, and past board president Garcia were testifying in front of an Assembly Select Committee on Preventing School Districts from Receivership, bankruptcy, with LAUSD being one of those districts. Deasy and Garcia testified at the Committee that LAUSD only had $4,800/student and yet in their own budget and on the CDE website it said over $10,800/student and that is was about $2,000 more than the average Unified School District in the state and above the national average/student/year. What they did not know at the time is that CORE-CA had given the Committee the data on LAUSD and 20 other school districts for 10 years each and the Committee knew the truth. In the LAUSD budget right now they say on figure for ADA in one place and another off by 100,000 students in another and that is also 100,000 different from the information on the CDE website.

    Ravich and her entire group on her blog are totally ignorant of school budgets. Example Philadelphia which you two also mentioned. In one hour I found the 2013-14 Philadelphia Budget and analyzed it. Philadelphia has about $15,800/student. They pay charter school students $6,000/student/year less, so it is now for charter schools $9,800. When multiplied by the number of charter school students the number back to the state in savings is about $330,000,000 or 1/3 from one school district of the $1 billion the state gave away to the billionaires and corporations this year alone.

    LAUSD has about 117,000 students who do not come to school everyday which means a lost revenue for that year of about $1,250,000,000.

    No one does this work except CORE-CA. Why is that? Just as in California right now iPads are being bought illegally according to the 2004 Calif. Attorney General’s Opinion on this subject and the replacement of suddenly death Marguerite LaMotte is also being run illegally according to case law from 1868, a U.S. Supreme Court Decision, Merrill v. Montecito, and a 1906 reaffirmation. oDiDillon’s Rule and

  • Chris Jonsson

    I’m very glad Bill interviewed Diane Ravich. How many times have you seen her interviewed? Not many. But Michelle Rhee used be on all the time. She works with the billionaires.

  • Chris Jonsson

    As state budgets continually are reduced, subjects are dropping off the roster. Kids need variety. Shop would be a good thing for everyone to take. So would home economics, all useful skills even if they are not used for career building or college. I wish I knew how to fix things or make things that shop classes teach. Art,music, foreign languages, philosophy, civics, government for example are being eliminated too because of testing. A well rounded education is a treasure to the kids their whole lives. It’s really too bad that people take advantage of of education system to enrich themselves at the students’ expense.

  • Chris Jonsson

    Look on the Moyers and Co. website where you will find ways to get involved and help.

  • Chris Jonsson

    I agree.

  • Rusty Wilson

    It was never about saving all the kids just as it was never about saving all the people. Even in the industrialized countries where a strong labor movement, led by socialists, created a large middle class it still came at the expense of minorities and the poor.

    Since the 1975 “Washington Consensus” the Democratic Party’s national leadership (though not all the party’s grassroots activists or elected officials) has embraced a bipartisan consensus favoring “the four Ds of neo-liberalism”: deregulation, de-unionization, decreasing taxes on the rich, and defunding social services. Privatization(piratization) rules. Neo-liberals are now the one permanent party in power funded and owned by the corporate shadow plutocratic government with Republican’s on the right and Democrats on the left. When the Republican right wing can’t get something done they shift it to the Democratic left wing as proven by the early 1990’s Heritage Foundation’s mandatory health insurance plan being first proudly enacted in Massachusetts by Governor Romney and then, suddenly, his “Romneycare” became “Obamacare”.

    Only socialism attempts to save all. Otherwise it’s just a game of lefty-righty winging to FUD(Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) the masses while screwing them and their kids for the wealthy few.

  • Chris Jonsson

    Mayor deBlasio does not want to eliminate charter schools. He is working with them. He wants to save public schools from being eaten alive by charters. He wants to slow down the growth of charters and have them pay rent in public schools they do business in. It is a business to a lot of charters.

  • Will Garfinkel

    We are facing 21th century problems and she still wants to hold on to 20th and 19th century methods. The Charter system is succeeding because the old public school system failed. Instead of trying to destroy the Charter system, why not fix the public schools system and compete for the hearts and minds of the parents who demand choice.

  • Liberalmann

    Guess how much about climate change students will learn at a charter school funded by Exxon/Mobil?

  • Rusty Wilson

    They’ll learn the 21st century solution of destroying the ecology and the human race for Exxon/Mobil profits.

  • Chris Jonsson

    What a great post. How about combing the thoughts you expressed on this and writing an article? Interest in the common good in America is in short supply since the George W. Bush administrations abandoned it.

    We need it back.

  • Chris Jonsson

    How about finding out who made your schools so bad and express yourself publicly? You could gather support for change and improvement. Who reduced funding for your schools? Work to elect someone who will champion public schools and replace the elected official who doesn’t understand or appreciate the value of public education.
    There are a lot more poor people today. They have all kinds of problems with providing for basic needs. The economic gap between rich and poor is wider than it has been since the great depression, rendering a large portion of our population dysfunctional. That gap effects the whole country. Some private charter schools and church schools leach funding from public schools. This is another example of the top 5% of people profiting from those who really need the money to stay in a public service. If corporations would pay school taxes that would help. Corporations benefit from having an educated public. They can pay their fair share too. You may not care about this, but if you do, here are some ideas to change things.

  • Christopher Winfield

    Ever since 401Ks and corporate usery won out over pensions and fair wages, it’s been pimp our armies, pimp our labor, pimp our news, pimp our government, pimp our schools, …..

  • Chris Jonsson

    Amanda Marie, thank you for your insider information as a teacher in the NYC public school system. Thank you for your service and for hanging in there. One of your points I disagree with, however. I think the investor class wants to completely eliminate public education and make it totally privatized, destroying the union in the process. Keep that in mind. They are deadly serious. Teachers who are in the union have a group to fight back. Consider joining them.

  • Anonymous

    There has been a problem with public schools – in part due to the 3 decade long assault of the corporate right-wing upon the American public good, public institutions and our democratic government.

    The solution is not to privatize them though …

  • Anonymous

    The original charter for the public school system in this country was to insure that all citizens have a fundamental level of competence in reading , writing, history, and fundamental mathematics. Over the past fifty years, the various boards of education around this country took it on themselves to minimize the delivery of a basic education and elevate our public education system to a preparatory school for college bound young people. Considering that only 25% of the young people in high school today have the means to attend college, and only 18% of those will actually stay the course and receive a degree, the other 75% are basically being thrown overboard. Yet another attempt by social elitist to create a permanent underclass while ignoring all the social problems that go along with such a group in a now deindustrialized America !

  • Anonymous

    Hey, I like your screen name. It’s fitting.

  • Anonymous

    Help who? The woman is trying to sell her book. You buy it.

  • Steve Candee

    As a community college instructor for nearly thirty years I have always had a great interest in education and education reform. Regarding increased “testing” to improve the quality of education I am reminded of a quote from Jonothan Kozol, whose book of many years ago, “Death at an Early Age,” made a profound impression on me and my decision to go into public education. When asked his thoughts on increased testing he quoted a family member who was a pig farmer (I think it was his grandfather) who said “you don’t fatten the pig by putting it on the scale.” I always remembered that…

  • Anonymous

    Quite a projection of the unconscious here.

  • Chris Jonsson

    Oh sorry, I thought you wanted to help public schools. My mistake.

  • Chris Jonsson

    You sound like a Swift Boater for Truth, the group that managed to falsely smear a Vietnam war hero for political gain. How American of them! “Flip flopper” is such a flip remark with no real value. In other words, a cheap desperate shot at making light of a thinking person who doesn’t follow the party line. Who’s the good boy? It’s you!

  • Anonymous

    Corporate interests are ruining democracy in America. They’re making American’s slaves and taking away education from our kids might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

  • P See

    Obviously you have not done your research on these “facts” you present.

  • Anonymous

    This is NOT about choice – it’s about corporate interests putting the final nail in our democracy. If you’d actually been listening to her, you’d know that she correctly stated that the countries with the highest test scores had publicly funded education – ZERO charter schools.

    Charter schools ALSO falsify their data by not teaching ALL students, including those with disabilities, behavioral problems and poor communities. Charter schools have litigiously pursued not having ANY public accountability. So, the kind of people who melted down our economy are the go to people to educate our kids? NO.

  • Joshua Levinson

    oy vey, you are so misinformed. DId you listen to
    what she said? It’s capitalism at its most evil end, taking money away from democratic institution that has been central to the creativity and innovation that has fueled America.

  • VA teacher

    Diane Ravitch includes a key concern in her conversation that needs to be addressed: the average time of service for a teacher in today’s classroom is 1-2 years. Teachers are no longer staying in the profession. They bail early. That means that most students in today’s classrooms are being taught by inexperienced professionals still learning their craft. Why are teachers bailing?
    One of the reasons I retired early from public teaching last June was because of the intrusion of corporations into the classroom. I was required to teach using corporate sponsored materials that had little to no relevance to what high school students need to be competent readers and writers. Students were required to take multiple choice tests created by companies such as Pearson and Northrup Grummond. When teachers complained that the questions merely required rote recall, and did not require writing or critical thinking skills, we were told “We’ve paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for these testing programs- you will use and administer them.” There was no collaboration between corporation and teachers.
    A second reason I retired early was because of the zero tolerance for any student to fail. (We can evaluate how well this policy works by examining the Air Force scandal at Malmstrom Air Force Base). I ended the last few years exhausted from spending 70-80 hour weeks working to insure that I had 100% pass rates on the NCLB tests (my students all passed). Students with sixth grade reading skills were taught strategies to pass 11th grade reading comprehension test questions. That certainly didn’t mean they were competent in reading challenging materials requiring critical thinking skills. But no matter. They passed the test. From year to year I was also expected to sustain or increase a high student pass rate for my students taking the college Board AP exam. The principal didn’t care if my class roster included 1/3 additional ESOL students with a 6th grade reading level. It didn’t matter that the students didn’t have the academic background needed to succeed. It only mattered that each year our school was giving more AP tests and that more of our students were passing them.
    The third reason I retired early was I was spending too much time preparing students to take tests. Unlike my early teaching years, where innovation, creativity, and making mistakes were valued, the “reformed” school environment valued none of these. Instead, the focus on tests and test performance created a classroom environment that discouraged creativity, mistakes, and innovation. It was all about bubbling in one right answer. And making sure my test scores looked good on that spread sheet the principal required me to post electronically.
    This culture has created a crisis in the teaching profession.
    American citizens should be alarmed that most American college students don’t want to go into teaching (charter or public school teaching), and they should be alarmed that those who do go into teaching are leaving the profession very early.
    Citizens should ask themselves why countries like Finland, with exceptional student success in public schools that don’t focus on tests, have the highest quality college students competing vigorously to get into the profession while America laments its ability to attract the quality and quantity it needs. For example, we should ask why there are “hundreds of openings” announced in a March 12 Education Week ECCS charter school annual teacher fair advertisement.
    Why is Finland able to select and retain only the top candidates for the classroom, but in America charter and public schools have to hold annual fairs to find and recruit teachers?
    It’s because our American education system is broken, broken, broken, and simply throwing money at the problem by opening charter schools isn’t going to fix it.

  • Anonymous

    There’s no party line. My central point is that Bill Moyers ought to invite any of several people with considerably more direct experience in public education to appear on his program.

  • Chris Jonsson

    Diane Ravich has a lifetime of experience. If you want debate, go to another program. Bill Moyers gives people a chance to express their opinons without being berated and bullied like they are on national networks. We got to hear what Diane Ravich thinks without interruption. That is valuable. Whole thoughts to consider are good from both sides. But if one side insists on shouting down the other, they must be separated to express their opinions without being attacked. After all FOX lets conservatives have the floor with no serious obstruction. Liberals deserve a chance too, albeit miniscule compared to that given to conservatives. Money buys power. There’s still a little democracy left for Democrats to eek out a message into the political wilderness to express decent. We claim what is left.

  • Anonymous

    The charter idea was developed by Democrats in Minnesota, one of whom was me. Rosa Parks (yes, that Rosa Parks) worked hard in the last decade of her life to start charters in Detroit.) The situation is far more complicated than Ravitch presents. I just wish that Moyers would present progressive educators who have been involved with charters.

  • Chris Jonsson

    Put it out on this blog for interested parties to consider. Why not?

  • Anonymous

    Agreed, but many more will watch Moyers than read here.

  • Chris Jonsson

    It’s a place to start. There are several people who are inspired to share their ideas and the comment activity seems to be ongoing for a while because of Bill Moyers and his community of interested active conversation with all parties.

  • Anonymous

    Most of us would like to see a stronger public education system, just as we would like to see our other institutions – government, financial, social – be suddenly stronger and more effective for all Americans
    I appreciate Ravitch’s sounding the alarm, but that’s my point: that’s all she did. Now the tough part:
    Where is the fix?
    Who will take charge?
    And how much will it cost? Who will pay for it?
    These are the questions any responsible citizen would ask.

  • ccrider27

    At the end of the interview, Moyers states that there is a link somewhere on his site to an article in Politico and to a report on Timonthy Cardinal Dolan.

    I am unable to find either of those two links.

    Anybody got a clue as to what he’s talking about?

  • Anonymous

    Sure. Who would not want to help the public ed. system, with all we have already invested in it? I think we would also like to help improve our other institutions, but those winds have likely blown. What we are dealing with is something that may be broken beyond repair, and it’s time to start over. People might put up with corruption in D.C. or in their state houses, and even put up with the challenges of financial institutions, but children is where most of us draw the line. In many cities and counties across this country, parents believe their children’s futures are just too important and critical to place them in classrooms that, in some cases, are at risk.

    Today’s job world is a good but scary predictor of what the next decades will look like, and the most prepared, educated and well-trained people will get the best jobs.

  • Peacelf

    It seems as though this discussion about the attack on democracy is more about who and where one is educated, and not about what kids are learning, or should I say, not learning.

    In a standardized one-size-fits-all education, ignorance is being taught. What is missing is the diversity of ideas, beliefs, values, politics, etc. that teachers bring to the democratic table. Sure there are limits, like teaching creationism, but education is a biased, political public institution that should be treated as such, where civics is more than learning the three branches of government and how a bill passes. What’s missing, especially in charter schools, is critical thinking. I’m talking about epistemological, social, political, and economic criticism that reaches across party lines to educate young people to see the world as it is, not as the 1% would have us think.

  • Paul

    I am responding to you as a retired public school teacher, Director of Special Education, School Principal PreK-12, winner of a governor’s Brightest Star Award so I probably am quite capable to respond to you in a civil manner with my head “unstuck”, sir. Thank you. Diane Ravitch is a credible source of information and I find her message timely and critical in the fight to reverse the privatization of our precious public school system. Ravitch is not a book huckster. Ravitch is a person trying to wake-up America to the fact that the public schools are in peril. By the way, you might take a look at David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass and Associates new book, “50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: The Real Crisis in Education”.

  • Mimi

    Either way, they only learn one side which I’d half an education. Just like teaching Darwinism evolution as a scientific fact that can’t be observed, repeated, or tested, the scientific method. Teaching one faith (evolution) which has one giant scientific hole after another and “proof” after “proof” disproven but still uses lie after lie to further that faith is not education! Educating means teaching reality, the reality is there is not one instance of a change in kind and yet, states mandate that only that faith position be taught in public schools, that is indoctrination not education. My privately educated kids can have an open and honest, educated conversation with you about the theory of Devonian evolution and the theory of an intelligent designer, can your publicly educated kids? They have an education based on reality. They can also present to you both sides of the climate change debate, that education, in my opinion, is much better than the state mandates lobbied for by the Freedom from Religion foundation.

  • Anonymous

    I respect your opinion and that of Ms. Ravitch, as I tend to put credence in well-researched materials. You are both correct: public education is in trouble. Too bad we don’t have a FEMA-type organization to storm in and correct it, because in some states, it is a disaster and worsening.

    People’s children are involved. Those who can do better for them will. Those who can’t, won’t. It’s a terrible situation, but parents are not going to sit by and wring their hands, waiting for governments – Federal and State – to make it better during a time period that is critical for their children. Really, now – can you blame them? You and I can view the situation from educators’ points of views. We need to think like parents of five-year-olds who are not focused on teachers’ salaries, administators’ power plays, unions and noble causes. They want the best education possible for children who will become adults in a world in which the best educated and best-prepared people will get the best jobs. That’s the bottom line.

  • Anonymous

    No. Corporations want “full control” — the sort of unelected full control democratic institutions can never give.

    There really are things best done by the public sector, but you have drunk the corporate Kool Aid

  • Anonymous

    Except that Charters are NOT “succeeding”.

    The highest performing education systems in the world focus on collaboration rather than competition, while we apply a corporate hammer to things that will never perform as “nails”.

    Yes, fix the public schools, by all means! Any ‘innovation” that truly works in these charters, can be implemented for everyone. In your world, public schools will become a dumping ground for difficult to teach children, which is sadly, what parents who seek charters are often trying to escape.

    “Aim for equity, and you will get excellence.'”

  • Ralph Byrns

    Faith can be defined as belief without empirical support. You obviously have faith in a Bible-based creationism. How can you reconcile such beliefs with, e.g., carbon dating, or the abundance of fossil remnants of creatures that lived millions of years before humans walked this Earth? Does the weight of evidence tend to support Darwin more, or Genesis? Moreover, your spelling and your sloppy punctuation and grammar yield doubt about the competence of the instruction available to students at the Heartland Christian School,

  • Robert Thomas

    As a comfortably, self satisfied weak-tea socialist myself, I beg to differ, on the subject of what “it” was ever “about”.

    When my parents came to California during WWII from North Dakota and Mississippi, they found a community with (already by that time and more so later) a diverse population that was determined to make public school work for ALL of its kids. It accomplished that task (including building the greatest university in the history of the planet), and accepting many tribulations, it still maintains it.

    This can work any place, not just for the 38M people of CA. I well recall the comical spectacle of goofy, overrated idiots Arthur Laffer and Milton Friedman trying to argue that public education couldn’t be a socialist institution because 1) people approve of it and people don’t approve of socialism and 2) it works. Ergo, ipso facto, public education can’t be a socialist program. Jeez.

    California courts also decided, in the matter of Serrano v. Priest (1976), that all of the kids in California deserve the same public educational opportunity. Mechanisms (though imperfect) have been enacted to further that goal.

    Outside CA, experience is different. MA achieves greater success (with a more affluent population a sixth as large and MUCH smaller fraction of ESL students) and other locales vary in their progress. But if ANYONE has a choice to educate their kids – in the Mississippi my mother grew up in, that the Republican party “acquired” when because of their new policies the Democrats could no longer attract white votes there fifty years ago, OR, in the State of California where the Republican Party has been *burned out* of office – selecting the former over the latter could only be explained as a sign of dementia.

    I see the difference between a 38M citizen population operated by imperfect Democrats EVERY DAY and have also seen those operated by the (imperfect; they’ll admit that much, too) Republican party. The claim that there is no difference is frankly, flatly ridiculous. It is an assertion worthy of sharpest ridicule.

  • Theresa Riley

    Dear ccrider27:

    Sorry that the links weren’t more apparent. Here they are:

    Politico creationism story:

    Cardinal Dolan story:

  • Jamie Brimer

    I say again, put your kids in public school and let us have our kids in charter or private school. I don’t want to force you, but you want to force me. Why is it always that liberals want to force their values and beliefs on others? As for the money, we payed to have our four kids in private school with no government assistance, could not even get a tax write off, while paying high property taxes in CA. where most of it goes to schools. My sister is a third-grade teacher in Southern California and she would always tell us that our kids were 2 to 3 years more advanced in their education than the public schools. And yes I enjoyed drinking the Kool-Aid on a hot day when I was working my rear off to keep them in a private school, by the way…….it tastes good. Gee, did you forget your famous words; tolerance…. diversity…..acceptance…..?

  • Anonymous

    Hell – why do we even bother with civilization eh?

  • Mimi

    You avoided answering any of my questions, but rather turned to ridicule, I find this technique a common one. Should the comma substituted for a period at the end of your reply be considered a smart phone mistake or yours? It appears that public education may have failed both of us, lol! To answer your question, “faith” is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. It means believing something that cannot be proven by observation, testing or repetition. Carbon dating has been proven to be anything but reliable, evolutionary scientists continually revise how old things are to fit their beliefs about the age of the earth. The very same empirical evidence is seen by an evolutionary scientist to support their faith while the creation scientist interprets that same evidence based on their faith. It takes much less faith for me to believe that an intelligent designer created the earth just as the Bible says than it takes for an evolutionist to believe that nothing suddenly exploded and became something which then became single cell organisms which then became the incredibly complex creatures and humans on earth today. This idea has never been tested or observed, let alone repeated and yet it is considered to be scientific fact. There has never been a single example of one kind of animal becoming another kind of animal and yet an evolutionist believes that that very thing has happened millions of times. The fossil record supports the theory of a huge disaster in a short amount of time causing mass destruction and death. Sea life buried at the tops of mountains is one example of what happened during a world wide flood a few thousand years ago. So to answer your question, evolutionary faith in the mistakes and sometimes outright lies of evolutionary scientists who have been caught numerous times making up data, requires more trust in the absence of empirical data than to believe an eternal God who has revealed himself in nature, his creation, and spoke it into being. Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Sadly, misplaced faith in fallible human science has caused many to deny what each of us know inherently; that God created us, has a purpose for our life and wants desperately to have a relationship with us. However, the debate remains about the definition of “education”, not the definition of “faith” and whether or not yours or mine is more trustworthy. So, my question still remains, “Is a person more educated when they have an understanding of all sides of an issue or of only one side of it?”

  • NotARedneck

    “The fact is that regular public schools have created the need for
    charter schools by, in general, not doing a good job and lying about

    Nonsense. Public schools are stuck with the worst cases to educate and increasingly it is not possible. Funding for the schools with the most problems is generally the lowest while these other schools skim off the cream – and surprisingly still don’t do that good a job.

    The number one solution to this problem is to remove the disruptive, criminal elements from these schools and feed them to the charters, For every failure that they have, cut the funding for 5. If they are really good, they should succeed. They don’t lie or do a bad job, do they?

  • NotARedneck

    Employers love them – too stupid to organize to demand a raise.

  • NotARedneck

    The wealthy are certainly worried that their lazy darlings won’t measure up if they don’t get a leg up – way up.

  • NotARedneck

    “Those schools proved that by providing meals”

    So they have the funding to actually recognize and deal with poverty? Nice if you can get it.

  • Mimi

    I’m an employer for two different small business companies, and I’d take the work ethic of my redneck workers over any union-minded, entitlement thinkers every hour of every day! And I gladly pay them for that work ethic so they don’t take it somewhere else. All people deserve an opportunity, only some deserve their paycheck!

  • FC White

    Hey, “Jamie Brimer”! You’re free, last I checked, to put your kids in a private school.

    Do you have information to the contrary?

    But stop trying to defund the PUBLIC SCHOOLS by siphoning off those vital funds to start your own private school. Okay?

    What kind of nonsense are you trying to pull here anyway, trying to convince us that when you set up a two tier—or three tier or four tier—system within the public schools that you’re somehow demonstrating “tolerance…. diversity…..acceptance…”

    How dare you cheapen those words! Either you don’t understand the English language or you think you can spin and snow the people reading this blog.

    Either way, it won’t wash. It just won’t wash.

    I always can tell when one of the paid shills for the “Privatization Plutocracy” has arrived.

    You rarely address the specific substance of what is being discussed on the blog—in this instance the interview on public schools being threatened by plans for a corporate takeover.

    So you gravitate over here—you must have one of those alerts set up to let you know where and when on the web “charters” and “education” issues are being discussed—and slap down your generic “cut & paste” job; in this case and obtuse, irrelevant and likely false little anecdote about why tax dollars should now be taken out of the public schools—which, as most people know, would cause them to collapse completely—under the odious BS that this is about “freedom” or what, “Doing Your Own Thing?”

    We’re not buying it. And we’re not letting miscreants like you destroy our public schools. Get lost.

  • FC White

    Are you unable to read, Jamie, or just too lazy to do so? Alternatively, you could LISTEN to what is being said in this interview.

    But it’s obvious you’ve done neither. Or are you just choosing to ignore where Diane Ravitch cites specific sources for her completely valid claim that charters, overall, perform worse than public schools.

    The charter backer’s own study—the CREDO report out of Stanford in 2009—says so. Slightly more that 40% of charters perform as well as public schools, about 17% perform better, and—in the exact language of the charter backers themselves who wrote this report—almost 40% of charters are “significantly worse” than our public schools.

    And THIS is what you think we taxpayers should be dismantling our public schools for?

    Maybe the truth is—as you admit—you just despise anything public and you believe this Fox “News” inspired nonsense that “Everything must make a profit or it’s no good!”

    You make yourself look foolish, and a bit obtuse, when you make ridiculous, juvenile statements like “Charter schools and private schools do a much better job of educating and that’s what you don’t like, simply because you like government sponsored schools and aren’t willing to admit that most government run programs are failures.”

    Beyond the very poor grammar and sentence structure, you make a silly, ditzy claim that only undercuts your case further.

    It kind of reeks of desperation. I think you know that you don’t have a leg to stand on so you just start saying dumb, unfounded things, backed by zero evidence.

    Until you can come back and show us something CREDIBLE, with facts and source citations, you’re not going to be taken very seriously around here, “Jamie”.

    Nothing personal, buddy, but when you burst into a discussion, make ludicrous and clearly fatuous claims, with nothing but bizarre nonsense and character disparagement to back up your hoary, mendacious claptrap about charter “schools”, you’re only going to be laughed at.

  • FC White

    Actually, “Jamie” is a paid shill. The Privatization Gang has dozens of them, working for front organizations with sweet sounding names like “Democrats for Education Reform”—which literally has about 28 “Democrats” nationwide as members—usually with very close ties to Wall Street, like Cory Booker—or “Stand For Children”, which is the vehicle that has enriched Michelle Rhee to the tune of almost $15 million dollars over the past 4 years, according to some estimates. (But she won’t reveal how much money she’s hauled in from all that, nor will she reveal her contributors.

    Jamie isn’t drinking the kool aid; innocent and confused types do that.

    Jamie—or whatever his real name is—is only doing what his boss is telling him to do, for money.

  • FC White

    Like most paid shills, “Jamie” knows the facts are against him, so he throws out some dumb, laughable cliches about “everyone knows government is bad, ala Ronnie Reagan, and that’s supposed to convince we readers.

    Jamie’s purpose here is to confuse and distract, by throwing around enough smoke and muddying the waters with the hope that we’ll say, “Well…uh, maybe he’s got a point.”

    Oh, Jamie’s got a point all right; but it’s confined to one part of his anatomy.

  • FC White

    Nonsense. Show us your source for your mendacious claim that “charters are succeeding”. Where is it? Do you have any credible evidence?

    And show us where public schools are “failing”? By almost every measure they’re actually doing quite well: the highest SAT scores in history, across all income levels, geographic sectors, and ethnic groups; the highest percentage of high school graduates in history; the highest percentage of college graduates in history and many similar data points.

    And when you control for poverty, the students of the United States are AT or VERY NEAR THE TOP, of all nations, worldwide.

    So, got anything CREDIBLE to tell us, “Will Garfinkel”?

  • Anonymous

    That doesn’t surprise me at all.

    I am no Democrat, but Green. No corporate shills here!

  • FC White

    Oh please; this “two sides to every issue” claptrap is such a waste of time.

    What’s next: “Both sides of tobacco smoking?” or “Both sides of Galileo’s theory of the solar system?” (Only godless liberals believe that the SUN is what we revolve around instead of the CLEARLY observable TRUTH that everything, including the sun, revolves around us!)

    Sometimes TRUTH is just that. There is no “controversy” and no “two sides”. Okay?

  • FC White

    A biology major at a Christian “college” in Tennessee disagrees with your spin on carbon dating. (In fairness, this was more than a decade ago; I guess there’s a new party line now.)

    When I asked her—a biology major—how she could believe in a planet that was around 6,000 years old, and cited carbon dating to contradict that, her response was, “Our biology faculty agrees that carbon dating LOOKS very convincing on the surface. But, we’re taught, and I fully believe that carbon dating is one of Satan’s many sophisticated tricks, to try and shake our faith in the lord.”

    Have you rejected that old saw in favor of your seemingly more sophisticated explanation. Or is there an internal battle on this one within the fundamentalist community?

  • FC White

    “Lying about everything?”
    Really. That’s quite a statement, George.
    I think this is called “projection”; take a look in the mirror to find out who’s “lying about everything”.

    Also, I’ve seen your nasty, vicious, mendacious postings on several websites discussing charters. It’s pretty clear who is paying your bills.

    Again, I hope everyone will notice that George never addresses anything actually discussed in the Ravitch-Moyers conversation. Rather he does the old “cut and paste some hoary buzzwords and cliches” designed to obfuscate and confuse.

    Move along, George. Your falsehoods and slander won’t work here. Or anywhere, it appears increasingly obvious.

    Is that why your tone and that of your fellow shills is increasingly angry, bitter and panicked?

  • FC White

    Oh, several such studies have been done; the results, nationwide: Public Schools as a whole have a slight edge over your religious, private and charter “schools”.

  • FC White

    Spoken like “Mr. Potter” from “It’s A Wonderful Life”, or is it Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol”?

    But it also reeks of Simon Legree.

    I love how guys like you assume anyone who expects a decent fair wage is “lazy” or “entitled”.

    You’re not anyone I’d ever teach my kids to respect.

  • FC White

    You sound like “Joe Nathan”, one of the original Privatizers who helped bring this plague of charters into our education system.

    Joe is using the “New Charter Propaganda Technique”—realizing that the old narrative that “ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS STINK BECAUSE OF THE LOUSY, LAZY UNIONIZED TEACHERS!!!” eh….wasn’t working.

    So now, they’re trying the “Kinder, Gentler Pro-Charter Strategy” which Joe demonstrates above, where the bottom line is, in effect, “Gee whiz, why all the fighting? Both charters and public schools CAN or MIGHT be good; let’s take them one by one, and consider them both “normal” and “equal” and—here’s the KEY PART, “both equally deserving of taxpayer funds…because WE ALL WANT THE SAME THING…blah blah blah blah blah…”

    Don’t buy it. It’s just the “good cop” to Michelle Rhee’s “bad cop”, but they’re ALL essentially “corrupt cops”, and not to be trusted.

    Oh, and Joe, I’m in my son’s school an average of 5 to 6 hours PER WEEK. I see a lot. And I can see right through your poor attempt at spin.

  • ccrider27

    Thanks very much!

  • Debra Likes-Schroer

    Guess what will be coming next…….no more homeschooling. Just wait.

  • MNteacher

    You obviously aren’t happy with your child’s teacher. However, 5-6 hours in the classroom is nothing compared to the preparation that goes into creating, readying, analyzing, data collecting….I could go on and on…that I (and I can say with certainty) many, many other teachers do on a regular basis to “teach”. The whole crux of this interview was to say that folks who are qualified through education and experience to be a teacher, should not be the ones making all the decisions concerning our educational system. I’m not sure where your child attends school, but if you are so vehemently opposed to what is happening in his education, I suggest you avail yourself to the many ways of making a positive change vs. the venomous and unproven charges. You can run for school board, you can take classes and become a paraprofessional in your child’s school, to name a few. Spitting untruths on a blog doesn’t change anything–where’s your action?!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah – so let’s hand over our public education to the billionaire banksters. That makes sense.

  • Krissy

    Excellent arguments FC but what your missing is the underlying fear. Every one of these people believe that any form of “socialism” is BAD. Public schools are socialism at it’s best, we all contribute to making Public Education work but these so called “lovers of freedom” have bought into the propaganda that nothing works well unless someone else is making a profit off of it. For profit education, for profit military, for profit government, for profit healthcare, the list is endless of what this patriots are afraid of, but it can all be cured if we make a profit. Cha-ching!!!!!!

  • Mimi

    Yes, there is an internal battle. A lack of complete agreement by fallible humans does not negate the fact that every single view on any issue that is not observable, testable and repeatable requires faith in something. My belief in a young earth is fallible, I do not know all of the evidence, I do not claim to know everything, I do not claim to believe that any human being is capable of interpreting every evidence correctly. My claim is simply that every view on this subject requires faith, no view is scientific, and therefore teaching Darwinian evolution or global warming as a fact is simply indoctrination, not education.

  • Mimi

    Please direct me to them.

  • Mimi

    Your inability to discuss a topic respectfully is a perfect contribution to my point. Thank you for that. First of all, I never once mentioned “lazy”. Entitlement is evidenced every day in this nation. (See the screaming Obamaphone lady for another instance) Obamacare is yet another evidence. We succeed when we work harder, work smarter, have more talent etc. than the next guy. That is called a free market society, one that has served this nation extremely well to this point. I also never said employees don’t deserve a fair wage, I pay mine more than I have to. If you’re going to resort to insulting me to try to establish your case, at least be honorable enough to do it based on facts.

  • Scott Baker

    The private charter school system is going to go the way of the private prison system: both have a captive and predictable “customer base.” Both are ripe for increased State money and decreased returns masked as improved test performance scores, in the case of schools, (but with the “problem” students excluded in various ways). Both are ripe for bait and switch tactics for profit firms excel at. Meanwhile, it’s the students who lose, and our nation.

  • Paul

    I tried to reply to the above yesterday but evidently it did not get posted for some reason. So, here we go again. I have been a public school principal pre-k-12, taught special education, have a master’s degree, won a Governor’s Brightest Star Award, etc. I think my head is not stuck, thank you and I would appreciate it if you would keep your statements civil. Ravitch realized that she was wrong when she supported and helped put in place No Child Left Behind. I think she is a very brave person to work so hard to correct a horrible situation-the privatization of our public schools.

  • Anonymous

    Same happened for me. I did respond (again) to you. Maybe posting is slow.

    I appreciate your background and thoughts, and I appreciate people like Ravitch who sound alarms. However, public education is but one among many failing (or failed) institutions in our country.Others run the gamut from government entities and banks to financial institutions. Even our military is troubled. When I say “failed,” I am referencing their service to “we the people.” Consumers, voters, taxpayers.

    Public education elicits a different reaction from all the rest because it involves people’s children. Americans can be willing to support and even fund various charitable organizations, places of worship and causes. They put up with the government and banks because they feel they have no other choice. But when it comes to their kids, they draw the line. If they can afford it, and often if they can’t, they will ensure that the children will get the best education possible. Can you blame them? The future belongs to people who are educated and/or well-trained for the best jobs. Technology efficiency will play an even more significant role within the coming decade. While all of us want to support the idea of public education, that wind may have blown. Those who want to take up this cause need to listen to parents and students, first and foremost. Secondary audiences are teachers, administrators and boards, all of whom have splintered interests. It occurs to me, those involved in the implementation of public education have not been listening very carefully to key audiences. Had they been, the rapid rise of homeschooling and charter schools would not be a surprise.

  • Paul

    I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you are saying. I must take exception with your belief that our public schools are failed institutions. 90% of our current workforce received their education in the public schools. Our economy is still the largest in the world. The report Nation At Risk has been discredited by the Sandia Report. When poverty is factored out of our achievement test scores our nation matches up quite well with other nations. Please take a look at David C. Berliner, Gene V. Glass and Associates new book: “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public School–The Real Crisis in Education” published by Teachers College Press. After reading this book, listening to Ravitch speak in person two years ago, and my personal experience, I think privatizers, anti-union entities, and other elements are pushing to destroy a system that is still doing a pretty good job over-all. Gallup Poll results still show a lot of public support for their local schools. I worry about the talented teachers leaving the field because of the high stakes testing and curriculum that has not been vetted nor inclusive of professionals such as early childhood education specialists as well as parents…..I just shake my head. This attack is neither warranted nor beneficial for building/maintaining an effective public school system. I’m off to lunch….ciao (pun intended!).

  • FC White

    Clever. By demonstrating SOME understanding and acknowledgement of the creepy elements that have tried to capitalize on what you think of as “your noble minded project” you’re obviously hoping to snow us into your way of thinking, despite the facts.

    And here are the facts:

    – Charters perform worse than public schools, despite the fact that they have very few truly challenging kids to deal with.

    – There are some schools—like the one in Harlem that you’re apparently shilling for—that are essentially Potemkin Villages set up with the intent of misleading and confusing the NY media elite and potential funders.

    Most charters aren’t remotely like that.

    – You’re living in a fantasy land if you actually believe the malarkey you’re spewing out here about early charters having “brought to light the ugly underbelly of the teacher’s unions and the effect it was having on inner city urban schools.” (Did Joel Klein write that for you, Gator Girl?)

    – Poverty IS the main reason certain schools don’t succeed. Show me the income and education level of the surrounding area, I’ll show you the level of educational achievement.

  • FC White

    Your comment is obtuse and mendacious. “Flip-flopper”? Is name-calling all you have left? Are you that desperate? How exactly is Diane Ravitch a “flip-flopper”?

    Diane Ravitch is RARELY ever on television. Every time there is an “Education Nation” TV summit on NBC, she is ignorned or offered a tiny peripheral spot.

    The talk shows, the news shows—Heck, even Ophrah—welcomes The Privatizers with open arms. Diane Ravitch is rarely if ever seen on those shows—of any type.

    Michelle Rhee has an ENTIRE PBS SERIES on her, and THEN a big follow up by John Merrow; then, when he realizes he’s been snookered and taken, he tries to write a REAL story about Rhee and her defenders Circle The Wagons.

    Ravitch has appeared on TV about 7% as much as Rhee, according to some ongoing research, over the past 5 years.

    So, Ravitch gets to go on ONE SHOW—one with an extremely small audience—and they give her more than a soundbite or a minute interview, and whiners like you don’t like it.

    Maybe it’s because Diane Ravitch is telling the truth—and you don’t want to hear your fictional and self-serving narrative discredited? Is that why you’re whining so much about this?

  • FC White

    Hey Mnparent: There are very few people “with considerably more direct experience in public education.”

    And among the pro-privatization shills, few if any have anything approaching even a little “direct experience in public education.”

  • FC White

    Also, what’s wrong with being a private school parent? I’ve been both and it’s good.

    Diane Ravitch NEVER criticized private schools. Show me where she did that. And she never criticized those who chose to send their children to a private school.

    What she DID criticize are those people who want to take money from public schools to start private schools (a.k.a. “charters”.)

    And she also criticized those hypocrites who send their kids to school that would NEVER force their kids to take multiple tests, subject them to Common Core nonsense or castigate their teachers.

    If Barack Obama and Rahm Emamuel and Bill Gates and Michael Blumenthal can send their children to schools with lots of time for music, art, poetry, great books, and lots of recreation and field trips, why aren’t they advocating the same thing for ALL children—as Diane Ravitch and OTHER private school parents do?

  • Anonymous

    Fortunately charters are funded by the public.

  • Anonymous

    Author Bio:
    Deborah McGriff is a partner at NewSchools Venture Fund, where she leads the firm’s Academic Systems Initiative, and contributes to investment strategy and management assistance for a variety of its portfolio ventures, including charter management and school turnaround organizations. She serves on the board of directors of Black Alliance for Educational Options, DC Prep, Friendship Public Charter School, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and Leadership Public Schools. Deborah has been committed to transforming the lives of underserved urban school students for almost four decades. In 1993, Deborah became the first public school superintendent to join EdisonLearning (formerly Edison Schools). There, she held numerous positions at the company, including President of Edison Teachers College, Executive Vice President of Charter Schools, and Executive Vice president of several external relations functions. Prior to joining EdisonLearning, Deborah served as the first female General Superintendent of the 200,000-student Detroit Public Schools.Crain’s Detroit Business named her Newsmaker of the Year for 1992. Before that, she was the first female Assistant Superintendent in Cambridge, Massachusetts and the first female Deputy Superintendent in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was a teacher and administrator in the New York City Public Schools for more than a decade. Deborah has never supported the status quo; she has always been an advocate of parental choice, quality teaching, and high-performing schools for all children. Deborah is former President of the Education Industry Association, the leading professional association of education service providers. She currently serves on the board of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, where she also is an executive committee member, as well as founder and national board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. She also serves on the advisory boards of the National Council on Teacher Quality and of the Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, as well as the Technical Working Group for a national evaluation of the Federal Charter Schools Program being led by WestEd. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in history from Norfolk State University, a master’s degree in education with a specialization in reading pedagogy from Queens College of the City University of New York, and a doctorate in Administration, Policy and Urban Education from Fordham University.

  • Vanda Greenwood

    It is not succeeding throughout the USA. In Fl they are not regulated at all but get tax dollars that were intended for public schools.

  • Anonymous

    I will check out the “50 Myths” book. As for our current workforce having been educated in public schools, those were the relative “good old days.” My friends who teach, or who recently retired, say that discipline is their most frustrating issue in the classroom, followed closely by unprepared students who apparently have little encouragement from their parents – and in many cases, their parent.

    There are no easy answers, but I question whether private funding of schools is the real evil here. It’s a convenient way to provide a face to a multi-layered issue. Much of it is changing times. The Great Recession scuttled many dreams, and many parents don’t want to see this happen to their children. These are parents who may have little sentiment for unions negotiating for people who have good jobs when they have no job and no prospects.

  • Paul

    Research shows that teachers contribute about 30% to a child/youth’s learning. The parent(s) play a big role as well as the social economic status of the family. Too much blame being put on teachers for the alleged education crisis. You are right. Our problems are multiple. I do think we can save a lot of money by cutting-back on the testing and by allowing states to once again set their own standards using a much more rational approach than the fast track used for the Common Core State Standards. Thank you for the exchange. Made me dust off my brain! Have a good one.

  • Anonymous

    Wow, project much? It sounds like you have already decided that anyone who disagrees with you slightly is a schill for the charter schools (regardless of whether they actually disagree with you). If you could calmly read and comprehend you would know that I have zero interest in charter schools and nowhere did I advocate switching to charter schools. I’ve never sent my daughter to a charter for the very reasons you mentioned (many are worse than the public schools – but like public schools some a quite good).

    I simply pointed out, there was a very valid reason that Canada’s program garnered so much attention. He showed that despite bad conditions at home and profound poverty, children can be education. And poverty has long been used to justify low performance, when it doesn’t have to be so. However, what Canada did there is no different that what many of the top public schools have been doing for years. Its what his program was modelled on. He didn’t develop any brilliant new strategy – he simply implemented what he knew worked and was allowed to do because he didn’t have to deal with the teachers union in New York. Not all teachers unions are like that.

    And my only wish is that every public school be filled with top notch teachers. And right now that simply isn’t the case. And its why other countries do so much better than us (countries with higher poverty). Try reading The Smartest Kids in the World.

    You are correct in that poverty does make a difference in outcome. My point is that is only because of our approach to education in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We just choose it because it’s cheap and easy. We could easily help working parents and impoverished children by having longer school days (so parents don’t have to scramble for aftercare). Year long school to minimize the summer gap. We can offer free and healthy meals to every child. We could include additional tutoring to catch those children that fall behind at an earlier age. My point is that poverty doesn’t have to predict outcome. We choose to allow it.

    I am pro-teacher, coming from a long line of teachers. But every one of my family is for merit pay. The unions are not. I don’t blame the unions. They are simply following their mandate. But then they have to understand when we parents do not support them. I do blame the politicians that sign these bargain agreements that are not in the best interest of educating children. My engineering job is not for life. Why should a teacher’s? If I just decided to start reading comics at my desk, I would expect to be fired….and so should any professional. And teachers are educated professionals.

    I have no dog in this fight. I’m simply a single mom doing her darnedest to get the best education for her daughter in an underfunded public school system (Utah spends at the bottom in the country on education per child). I read your comment to my daughter on the ride home, and she could count on one hand the number of really great teachers she’s hand (one being her grandmother).

    I just want to raise the bar for what it takes to become a teacher and then reward that hard work with a decent salary and the prestige and respect the profession deserves (much the way Poland and Finland have done). Education is the great equalizer and all children deserve a top notch one. Being poor means we should work harder to educate those affected children (provide a safe place to learn, offer counselling, food, and most important someone who cares that has the resources to provide solutions). Because the way things are going, poverty is only going to get worse.

    I really don’t see how any parent would disagree.

  • FDRliberal

    Ms Ravitch is absolutely correct, charter schools are an all-out attack on democracy. Schools for profit pick the best and leave out the rest. We are talking about children here, not laptops or nylons. If public schools have issues then improve the public schools, don’t get rid of them.

    Cuomo is one of the worst villains with regard to this topic, eagerly doing the work of the hedge fund owned charter school movement as if his life depended on it. The Republicans don’t need to field a candidate for governor of NY. They have one in Albany already.

    De Blasio needs to wake up. These guys are nasty and are coming after him and any progressive reforms that takes free public money from their pockets. Mayor Bill needs to use the bully pulpit next time far more effectively. Even if he loses to the bad guys he will at least have made his honest case. As FDR said: “They are unanimous in their hate for me–and I welcome their hatred.”.

  • jan houston

    As a retired school librarian I tell all the young people I know to avoid teaching careers like the plague. Here in Colorado experienced teachers in their 50’s are being fired wholesale…to make room for low paying beginners. People in this country SAY we value education, and four times the voters here turned down vouchers. Well guess what, we have vouchers and charter schools anyways. If the American public doesn’t care about their kids, it’s completely unfair to expect teachers to try to change things from within.
    Want to change public schools? Require two teachers on every school board in the country.

  • Anonymous

    A.) there are many successfully run Govt. programs the meme “all Govt. is bad” is the message of a fool.
    B.) Outcomes for Charter schools are statistically equal to or less effective than public schools. The data is clear. And, that comes at great expense financially and via the harm to our social fabric.
    C.) Lastly, this nonsense ‘why can’t you keep and do what you want, and let us/me do what I want?’ The simple answer is to answer with a question – do you wish to be part of this society? If not, simply move & find a country in which Darwin prevails. Do you not benefit from roads, bridges, police, fire, etceteras? Of course you do.
    D.) Lastly, its ironic that, in the end, your stance on issues like this one will only further enslave you and your children to plutocratic corporate control. You think you advocate for ‘freedom’ but nothing could be further from the truth.

  • Lynn Pounian

    Perfectly put, Scott. Thank you.

  • Dana Andrews

    This is the thought I was having while reading these comments. The American Education System has always been the best in the world, and one of the great hallmarks of our society. Its decline began decades ago when people decided that everyone needed to graduate from high school, instead of letting some self direct into successful trades. Then everyone had a high school diploma, devaluing the efforts it took to get one. Fast forward to the 70’s when it happens again with college degrees. Everyone had to graduate from college and now the 2 year and 4 year degrees are just like the high school diploma, everybody has one, but can’t find a job. So now our education system is disabled in ways never imagined. In 1994 51% of the freshman class at the City University of New York (where graduation from high school guaranteed acceptance) were taking remedial courses to make up for their lack of preparation for college level work. Where do we go from here????

  • Barbara Parker

    I completely agree with you! Let’s keep all of our kids in schools with the same standards and teachers that believe “it is really about what is best for our kids”

  • Barbara Parker

    No forcing just don’t the money away from public schools. Because by definition it is not a public school.

  • SchoolChoice

    I’m sorry Bill and Diane…I forgot federal and state run monopolies are what is best for the children and all the government employees that profit from them.

  • Anonymous

    I can’t help but wonder what a close-minded person like yourself is doing watching a progressive TV program. Be careful–you actually might learn something! There is the difference between progressives and people like you: Progressives want the best for everyone and you only want what is best for you. Charter schools get rid of underperforming students so their collective test scores are dishonest. It is called cheating and last time I heard it is unethical and hurts not only yourself in this case but all other students and the entire nation.

  • Anonymous

    You are misinformed. Take a look at Cold Spring Harbor, Jericho, Roslyn, Syosset… Long Island Public Schools. They annually crush the results of private and charter schools. It’s a function of demographics, however. The schools are well-funded and well-supported by the communities.

    Will this stop you from denying the truth that public schools (particularly ones from unionized, blue states) outperform schools in “right to work” states, particularly charters and private schools? I don’t know, but feel free to look up those districts and their results. If you want high-performing city schools look up Stuyvesant or Bronx Science for more examples of superior public schools.

    I don’t think there’s anyone telling you not to do what you want. If you want to homeschool and think you can do a better job, go for it.

  • Anonymous

    In truth, if you move beyond the anti-public school media reports to research and data, you find that public schools are serving students well — when demographics are matched, American kids fare at the top or near the top in international measures. Researchers have found that poverty is what holds U.S. scores down, when the data is disaggregated. As for government employees who profit? — Except for coaches at prestigious colleges, I’ve yet to see a wealthy K-12 or higher ed educator. In fact, higher ed now makes use of adjunct faculty to the point that in many places they outnumber tenured staff, drawing low wages and few or no benefits. Finally, local and state schools are under considerable monitoring and many are subject to local control, more responsive to parents and guardians than for-profit charters. ALEC and the Kochs want to eliminate school boards, for example. With the Supreme Court decision to remove caps on political contributions, that opens the doors to more laws favoring privatization. Do you really favor the majority of schools being run by big corporations?

  • Anonymous

    No one is saying you can’t have your choice in education, but as someone posted earlier, they should be held to the same standards. Teachers should be held to the same qualifications, performance standards, etc. I also think if someone wants to attend a specialized private school, they should have to pay for it. Public schools have to test and bring kids to a level of evaluation and so should any publically funded school. The biggest problem I have is that there are thousands of individual schools now in places where there use to be hundreds. Each school has it’s own building and equipment, admin and teaching staff, not to mention other items like buses, parking lots, lighting, athletics, computer labs and libraries. All of that costs crazy money and as a result, public schools have had to cut so much that they no longer can operate and pay their teachers decent wages and benefits to live on. Additionally, they have to scale back on textbooks, technology, extracurricular activities. Remember the days when we had free driver’s education, music, art, shop class, social workers and nurses, counselors and experiential learning and field trips? Most of that has been cut because there are too many pots to put the money into. I believe one could add some awesome programs that would benefit more kids that are now going to both charter and public schools. If you want your child educated in a religious place, then put them there and pay for it. It is a choice, just like a private college is. Meanwhile, our kids do not even get the same offerings I got as a child of the 60s and 70s and that is not okay. My sister is an incredible teacher and loves what she does. Her kids still seek out her advice many years later. She is a fantastic public school teacher and I challenge ANYONE to find a teacher more dedicated and committed to those kids. But she has gotten 3 raises in 20 years, a loss of some of her benefits, increased costs for her retirement and healthcare and she has no upward mobility because they are losing classrooms annually. That is not okay! Not just for her, but for the whole community.

  • Mary

    Didn’t Eva Moskowitz graduate from Stuyvesant? Yes, Stuyvesant is an excellent PUBLIC school.

    However, to get into Stuyvesant or Bronx Science public high schools you have to pass rigorous tests. Only the best of the best students are admitted. The specialty high schools get the “cream” of students — they do not admit all ability levels.

    Moskowitz and the Success Academies may succeed in integrating Stuyvesant and Bronx Science so that they reflect the ethnic composition of NYC — by producing high-achieving students with solid foundations. I hope this happens.

  • Mary

    Parents and students are well aware of the instances where public schools are “failing”. In “failing” schools the students are often distracted by violence or threats of violence. Literacy and numeracy tend to be at low levels. Parents try to get their children out of those kinds of schools, and it’s hell if you don’t have the income to do that easily; you may work several jobs to earn tuition (on top of the taxes that you pay), and homeschooling may also be obstructed by unnecessary restrictions. It has to be the parents who homeschool (not grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.) You may have to pay for an “umbrella” school to test your kids, to make sure that they achieve to levels that aren’t required in the failing public schools.

    It’s time to get out of the way of parents who take responsibility for their children’s wellbeing. Good public schools will always be in demand. Lousy ones should not be allowed to continue creating sloppy environments that abuse children.

  • Mary

    I grew up in a single income family, during a time when average family size in my state was 5 children. We would have been considered impoverished in today’s economy. My parents and grandparents had even less funding.

    Yet, they learned well, and so did I, in an excellent small town public school.

    For me, your focus on money seems misplaced. There are intangible elements of curriculum, intention, corruption etc. that have changed public education over the decades — but the problem is not money (nor parents… a lot of kids I knew lost their fathers to heart attacks, war etc.) I notice more management of resources (including time and attention) — and I have spent a lot of time in schools as a parent, volunteer, and sometimes in paid work. Pay more attention to the details.

  • Mary

    Bill DeBlasio sends his son to Brooklyn Tech, which requires testing to get into and is very much like a private school. Play fair.

  • SchoolChoice

    I guess Wake county North Carolina 1st year kindergarten teachers making 33.00 an hour or 4 to 5 times minimum wage isn’t for a profit…not to mention they have a 9 month work year. Lets not forget the 1.4 billion dollar budget for Wake county public schools next year that is not going to fund big corporations that bank on big school budgets I suppose. Deanna the boogie man is not the corporations it is the monopolistic control the teachers unions have used to corrupt the system. Oh gosh sorry your union isn’t a for profit though right? Just like the NFL isn’t a for profit right? You want big business out of schools then let every parent decide where to send their children. If the tax payer is going to be nice enough to pay for every child to get an education then the parents of the children being educated should decide what institutions are best suited to their children’s needs. That is the only way schools will be held accountable to parents. Student enrollment up 36% administration costs up 61%… Dept of ed stat…All the money is going to superintendents and non essential staff. North Carolina has 115 school districts. The top 5 paid superintendents make 1.3 million combined not including all the sleazy perks they get. BTW…u kinda sounded like a racist bigot when you started up with the demographic speech. Where are you located the north east or the west coast? BTW…the minorities and non minority demographic at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder and the minorities and non minorities at the top of the socioeconomic ladder both unanimously agree… over 90% when polled that we should have school choice.

  • Anonymous

    SchoolChoice — For-profit schools and public charters have been around long enough to establish a pattern for researchers to trace. The question comes down to how well they serve their students, all students, and the answer is “Not very well.” When data is collected and analyzed responsibly, research is very clear that most such “choice” schools don’t do better, and most often worse, than public schools. Ravitch’s “Reign of Error” does the service of bringing a mountain of data and studies together to complete a puzzle of information. And that puzzle says that we can’t trust corporations to do what’s best for our students. By law, profit is the chief goal of a corporation.

  • Anonymous

    SchoolChoice — No union is for-profit, by law.

  • SchoolChoice

    Really…wow…thank you for clarifying that for everyone. 501(c) number 1-29 or something like that. What is the NFL a 501(c) 6 right? Its called crony federalism when you look at it in a responsible manner 😉 The research is clear both systems private and public improve when school choice is an option.

  • Anonymous

    1) What are your research sources? We know Ravitch’s, but you’ve not shared. 2) Also, do you not, as a citizen, have a voice in your public schools in your state? If not, why not?

  • SchoolChoice

    The moderator of this forum will not allow me to post links. WRAL news, IRS gov, US dept of education…among other sources…As a citizen of a constitutional republic…not a mob rule democracy… I do have a voice by voting. I am also on the board advisory council for my district and speak when necessary to communicate my knowledge 😉 Is there a specific piece of research you would like a source for? Do u think North Carolina needs 115 school districts Deanna?

  • SchoolChoice

    National center for education statistics…1994 digest of education statistics…2010 digest of education statistics

  • Anonymous

    Hi, SchoolChoice: AFT is virtually non-existent in N.C., so my knowledge of N.C. is limited, though I have a sense that the state has lost some ground regarding school improvement since I was there as a teacher rep for New American Schools Dev Corp. The research you’ll find most helpful goes beyond the data to deep studies like that

  • Mary

    “…we can’t trust corporations to do what’s best for our students.” Nor can we blindly trust politicians/ administrators. When we lived in NYC, some of the schools offered conditions that qualified for the term “child abuse”. Kids were beaten up by other students, sometimes gangs of students. Let parents decide what’s best for our students. We’re the ones who end up paying the medical bills when kids become anxious, bulimic, etc. etc. Different schools work for different kids.

  • Anonymous

    I agree. The research is clear about this.

  • Anonymous

    You are right that much is not right with public schools. The disadvantage of corporate-run schools, though, is that parents are more easily scammed there. In some states, owners have essentially taken-the-money-and-run, leaving parents to find other alternatives. In so many states, there are fewer laws governing the standards, monitoring the use of money, and protecting the children in charters than in public schools. Ravitch is saying that for-profit schools, vouchers, and charters without specific and careful (and expensive) monitoring and accountability are a threat to our children and our society in many different ways. But that does not mean that we don’t need to make higher demands about how administrators are trained (too often less well and with notably less funding than teachers), We need high standards for colleges and universities for training all educators. We need avenues for parent/guardian voices to be heard in every school, because effective schools work with parents as partners. Check Joyce Epstein’s work for some possibilities that have proven to work.

  • Mary

    Deanna, although there is not much attention focused on corruption in public schools, serious corruption exists in this area (google “Portelos + teacher”, but Portelos is only one example. I heard of many more situations while living in NYC). Because the corruption is tied in with the state (and criminals backed by police) it is much more difficult and dangerous to challenge the siphoning of public funds than private. There is a tremendous amount of money involved in public education, and this money has attracted thievery. I could offer you multiple examples that I came across when my kids were in school.

    Parents needs to have choices (including homeschooling). Families are being victimized by greedy organizations both public and private. It would be disingenous to focus attention solely on charters.

  • Mary

    disingenuous, sorry. hard to type this morning

  • Mary

    Also, “parents need” not “parents needs”. Hasty posting!

  • Anonymous

    That is the question – indeed. At least until the answer, any answer, will no longer be enough. At that point I shudder to think what is in store for this country.

  • Anonymous

    Take 10 minutes: 5 minutes to read how for-profit Charter schools in New York City were allowed to move into schools built with tax-payer dollars. Take 5 more minutes to read about Wal-mart heirs funding of Charter schools in D.C. and across the country…

    The only conclusion that can be drawn is that charter schools have nothing to do with education and everything to do with profit. At some point we’d better wake up and realize that privatizing and making ‘for profit’ everything will be our undoing – no matter what the kool-aid drinkers tell you. Not so ironically, the low-information and uneducated electorate will usher in their own demise via ignorance and lack of societal awareness.

  • Ardi Hominid

    Public schools bring communities together. For profit schools divide communities. That’s why small towns don’t want charter/voucher schools. It’s pushed on the cities because of their bigger budgets, but small towns don’t want anything to do with it. Stand strong small towns!

  • Anonymous

    What about charter schools as civil disobedience?

    I am one of the barely making it in America class, and I don’t want my kid to go to a poor school, with over 30 kids in the class, most of them half asleep. In this neo-feudalist society that the USA has become, I refuse to accept that my kid has to stay stupid so that she will accept her assigned place in the lower class. The Republicans underfunded education; uneducated people tend to vote Republican. No. I will not be a sheep.

  • Anonymous

    Karl Rove said it 13 years ago:
    “As people do better, they start voting like Republicans…unless they have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be too much of a good thing.” The New Yorker (February 19, 2001)

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    A myth that all public schools are like that. Also a myth that Catholic schools are good. LARGE MYTHS in fact.

  • Anonymous

    I believe that the parents and children are largely responsible for what they get. Not callous, just reality. Apathy is rampant in the US; even more so, intellectual curiosity. None of this applies for the US on another planet–that is, the upper middle class and above, affluent public schools and prep schools (the latter having nothing to do with charter schools).

  • Anonymous

    The core problem with public schools in poor neighborhoods–oops, I just gave it away, is poor neighborhoods.

  • StillUndecided

    As you watch this video – ask yourself this one question: Who currently receives and benefits from that $500B per year?

  • StillUndecided

    “If public schools have issues then improve the public school…”

    The problem with that statement is that the groups that have controlled public education for the past 50-plus years viciously fight any and all attempts to make any changes in the the schools. You cannot improve without changing.

  • Anonymous

    So it is better to let the likes of Michael Milligen, Bill Gates, Jeb Bush etc. etc. etc. to PROFIT from taxpayer dollars??
    It’s all about the PROFIT and trophies. It isn’t about educating the kids.

  • FDRliberal

    Eh, it’s been hard to make changes to the military as well. That doesn’t mean you privatize the military. Same thing goes for the police. The free market is not the answer to all problems.

  • StillUndecided

    I am not saying tht we should privatize the schools. There would be no efforts to privatize if (mostly) the unions would be willing to allow reasonable reforms.

  • FDRliberal

    When people say unions are the issue, most of the time they are really blaming teachers. They are implying that the big bad union protects all of these incompetent teachers, and if only we could get rid of them, all would be well.

    Most of the people who make this claim have never taught, or even entered a public school in the inner city. If they did they would see the issue is not the teachers, who generally do an amazing job against overwhelming odds, but rather several other issues: (1) Poor neighborhoods and the problems that come with them, (2) Lack of funding (3) Incompetent administration.

    Think teachers stop working after 3PM? No. In fact some of them are calling the parents of their students telling them to make sure their sons and daughters do their homework. Or they are filling out ludicrous amounts of paperwork at 11PM.

    I don’t think unions are perfect but they are not the issue. As public citizens we have to demand change. And change, real change, is hard, as you have noted.

  • StillUndecided

    You made the leap from “union” to the “teacher”. I never said the teachers were the problem. I do volunteer in my child’s school. We have only had one teachers that I would consider questionable. Notice that I did not say bad, just a little questionable. Maybe past her effectiveness as she really struggled with the new materials that she was required to teacher. I really struggled one day because I was given the task of helping kids that got problems wrong understand what they had done wrong. Almost every kid had the same problem wrong. Upon examination, they had it right, the teacher had it wrong. I tried to point it out and she refused to listen. I did not want to undermine her authority in her classroom, so I dropped it. That did not help those kids. And this is just one example.

    I do not know where you live. Things may be different there. Here where I am, the union truly fights every attempt at change. Change for the good or change for the bad. Everything is fought. The public is demanding change and voting for change. It is a very ugly situation here.

  • Anonymous

    You are actually holding children responsible for poor education? Children who have no power to vote, do not pay taxes, do not drive and cannot enter legally binding contracts. This is one of the most absurd statements I have ever read.

  • Anonymous

    I admire Ravitch’s faith in democracy. But why is it that democracy has to fight and scrap for years and years and years to win the simplest battles against Big Money? Why is it that 70% of Americans have absolutely no representation in government at the federal level, as revealed by a recent Princeton study?

    Democracy, the voice of the people as accurately represented by their servants in high office, should be a matter of course, not a laughable impossibility.

  • John S Wren

    It’s been a few years, but I really liked Diane Ravitch’s book The Late, Great Public School System in which she points out some real abuses, very wealthy people grinding one ax or another at the expense of kids.

    But now… She sees no problems in public schools today? Please.
    Worse, she demonizes the profit motive. Democracy without free market capitalism is tyranny of the majority.

    The sewer has backed up and she’s blaming the mortgage loan company, and at the same time telling us not to see the raw sewage as a problem, she doesn’t smell a thing.

  • John Lowmaster

    The teacher’s union is one of the biggest funders of the Democratic Party. Much of this is about busting the teacher’s unions.

  • Anonymous

    “Democracy without free market capitalism is tyranny of the majority.” And I say: democracy with only free market is tyranny of the few.

    John you adhere to the King’s model of democracy, resulting in plutocracy, and no democracy. You are winning now. Yet, time after time we see where only free market lowers quality and raises prices — military, health care, prison system are just three examples. When we had a balanced society, we were riding high, yet still there were serious problems. Today with this private fetish and condescension of Americans you are dragging the country into the world’s middle. I’m not really worried, although you are doing serious damage to the country, because the public will finally get fed up with your anti-American crusade.

  • Anonymous

    Fixing public education is like fixing the VA system. Billions of dollars with no positive result.

  • fantumfighter

    Actually, that is somebody saying that Rove said it. I’ve not been able to find anything authored by Rove, or a Rove video, that says it.

  • fantumfighter

    A middle course would be to let parents send their kids to any public school they choose instead of being locked into a geographic district. Fund each school as it needs to be because of its student load.

  • Jeff Bostick

    John, I would disagree with you.

    First, a person has the right to change their minds after having some experience with a thing they supported earlier. This happens all the time with cars, houses, consumer goods, etc.

    Sadly, my wife and I fell for the virtual charter school ran by a local For-Profit university – National University. Most everything they promised did not happen! My daughter did NOT start college courses in her senior year. Her advisers constantly screwed up her curriculum resulting in her having to extend her stay in high school. This of course worked in their favor as they could keep asking for tuition payments from the state of California. Did these people get fired? No, they did not. They continued to remain in their positions and left only after finding other employment

    Second, my daughter only participated in two internships that resulted in nothing but wasted time.

    The fact that another layer – a middle man – has inserted themselves in the delivery of education should tip you to the fact that managing these charter schools will cost more and become more difficult for the states.

    In my opinion, the charter school format is only slightly successful, but in large part, is a sham!

  • Jeff Bostick

    Imbalanced markets are not free. So agree with you.

  • Anonymous

    I see the same thing in Utah where there is absolutely no accountability for the online vendors. My ex-sister-in-law enrolled my niece and nephew in the online charter school and they did no lessons for three years, yet the vendor was paid each year with the result that my nephew is eight years old and can’t read at all. My brother finally took custody of the kids and enrolled them in a real school (public) away from the state of Utah so his kids can get an education.

  • Anonymous

    I guess you will only be happy if teachers make a McWage!

  • SchoolChoice

    Roger…u r a knucklehead! I am qualified to teach at the college level…due to the fact that u brought up college why don’t we take a look at all the federal dollars going to public state supported schools for their athletic scholarships that graduate student athletes that can’t even read…Did you graduate from college Roger? I did not demonize teachers pay…I merely stated a fact that they work 9 months of the year and make a higher than average salary in my state. Nationally…I believe the average public teacher salary is around $55,000. Professors average around $100,000. I think public teachers should be paid more and they will be once people embrace and usher in school choice. Why do u want teachers to make so little roger? Why are you demonizing school choice? Why do u defend crooked politicians and crooked educational administrators basically stealing money from parents and children like bullies in the lunch line? The sad fact is that public schools have been for sale ever since their inception. Why give so much power to so few people so u can continue to exploit them…but its all for the children. U don’t give a damn about the children. Some of the best schools in Sacramento are charter schools.

  • mark

    just like Dicken’s “Hard Times”, charter schools profit over their childhood, jails profit over the rest of their blighted existence

  • nidur

    Diane Ravitch is a new hero of mine! As a retired public school teacher, I thank you Ms.Ravitch!

  • Laurence E. Sachs

    I am a teacher in a public elementary school in NYC. I have been so for 14 years. Diane Ravitich get it right, hits it spot on. I will be picking up her latest book this weekend.

  • Laurence E. Sachs

    Here is my problem with part of your argument why is some one with a net worth in the billiions influencing education policy which includes slashing public pensions which by the way I have one, when he wouldnt need one. Its its my money not ths states money which I am saving for my retirement. ALso, A good may charter schools do no better and in many cases do worse then public schools. IF Charters are publicly funded then they should have to be compelled to take or at least give a fair shot to special needs and ELL students. If they dont want to playnby thse rules then they should not be charter schols but rather private schools NOT publically funded.

  • John Rampulla

    Could not have said it better. We’ve already seen what happens on PBS when one of their major donors doesn’t like a story done about them.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve taught in both private and public schools, K-6, 7-12, college and university over the past 20+ years.

    Agreed that a small class is helpful.

    For my years teaching in one of the most prestigious Catholic schools I was scheduled no class smaller than 31, with the largest at 39 students.

    In the highly-ranked public school I have had classes (rarely) as small as 12, and as large as 32 (after three dropped).

    Raising children is difficult but private or public, children need time from their parents to read and write with them, do math with them. Good luck with your child and God bless.

  • Anonymous

    Friend, you are misinformed.

    There are visionaries in the system.
    Carol Burris of South Side High School in Rockville Centre is one of them. She has all kids: the poor, the rich, the black and the white taking AP courses and it’s working.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Gates? The man who moved Microsoft across the border to avoid paying taxes? No tax dollars there.

    But now he wants “his” share of tax dollars even though he had Microsoft dodge taxes for years. What a classy guy.

  • Anonymous

    Friend, anyone can teach at the college level, no degree needed.

    Despite having my doctorate, I found out after 10 years of working as an adjunct at a college they in fact had no transcript, no CV, no references on file for me… but I was being paid for a decade as long as I signed in.

    In any case, there is nothing needed to qualify teaching at a college other than a contact on the inside.

  • VJ

    I just found this on Dec. 22, 2014. Here in Lake County, FL the school Board was asked to RENEW a contract for a software product that provided continuing education and class plan tutorials for teachers.. The staff asked to renew it for the 45,000 student county wide district and one new board member asked how many people used it, and it was not very high, resulting in a huge cost per teacher. The issue was postponed, then staff came back with a revision because they didn’t even understand how the usage data was calculated. Again, the numbers were bad and the Board ONLY renewed it for the remaining of the fiscal year in order to allow the few users to rely on it, but then “alternatives” will be used. This school district (I attend all Board meetings) had a bad habit of buying multiple products for different schools with overlap and inability for teachers who transfer to get up to speed. The big argument now against training software is that due to Common Core, teachers no longer have any time to do any online training.