Preview: Public Schools for Sale?

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 an assistant secretary of education under the first President Bush, she was an advocate of school choice and charter schools and supported the No Child Left Behind initiative of the second President Bush. But after careful investigation, she changed her mind, and has become, according to, “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.

Learn more about the production team behind Moyers & Company. Watch the full show »

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  • moderator

    If you post a comment with a link, odds are good it will end up in the spam folder or be deleted.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Jack Jones

    As is usually the situation, Bill Moyers shines a spotlight on a subject that is usually not well known, and especially not understood ~ primarily due to it’s deliberately being covered up. Public Education is under attack by the Right by the attempts to “starve” it to death by failing to provide adequate funding, and then criticizing it for “not doing it’s job”. An egregious tactic.

  • Ragua

    If we have a link that may support/supplement this topic, can we email it to you?

  • moderator

    I would first suggest trying to get your point across. You can always point people in the direction without the link.

    Sean @ Moyers

  • Ragua

    I certainly could, Sean, but it’s a complex issue, and I have a large stack of papers to grade.

    I can only hope Mr. Moyers will allow Ms. Ravitch the time to explain and source all the arguments.

  • Peter Allan Burmeister

    Bill, public education for many of us has been an unmitigated disaster. Some of us have commented on this in the past. Why not treat this side of the story as well in the interest of balance and fairness?

  • Curt Chiarelli

    This article only confirms what many of us who teach have known for years: Our nation’s current race to the bottom is sped along by its fierce anti-intellectualism, political apathy and the consequent trend towards the privatization/corporatization of our public education system. In the last half century, Americans have held up education as an important means of achieving a better quality of life. That Corporate America would subvert, pervert and exploit this most fundamental of American aspirations is beyond sinister. An enemy of humanistic values, profit over people remains the only prevailing motive for many corporations. The tradition of Western education is nothing if not people-centered and its recent move away from humanism and towards becoming profit-driven is misguided and a total distortion of its purpose.

  • Anonymous

    Peter repeats the corporate attack mantra, “public education has been an unmitigated disaster,” and then asks, “Why not treat this side of the story as well in the interest of balance and fairness?”

    That “side of the story” is already being “treated” into the ground by compliant corporate media. It’s a long and vicious smear campaign, being spread by private interests which see the public education budgets of our cities and states as profit centers ripe for the picking. I can’t post links here, so go to Wikipedia and look up FUD. It stands for the use of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt as part of a marketing campaign, to undermine a competitor.

    Bill Gates and Microsoft, the historic masters of FUD, have joined the billionaire Walton family, hedge funders like Whitney Tilson of DFER, Rupert Murdoch, billionaire misanthrope Eli Broad, and Pearson Education corporation to steal our public schools from our communities. They’ve literally invested billions in discrediting and weakening public education in preparation for a hostile corporate take-over.

    That’s the story that needs to be told. I look forward to Bill Moyers’ investigation.

  • Anonymous

    It isn’t just the right–the movement to destroy it is coming directly from “Democrats” like Obama and Duncan. These two gave the green light to destroying public education because they are owned by billionaire/Wall Street interests.

  • S.E. Knutzen

    Common Core + Teach for America + Charter Schools + Data Mining + Over Testing = A Generation of Exploited Children

  • Anonymous

    For you and sheeple like you, yes. For the rest of us, no. Please stop believing in neocon libertarian bullcaca about public education being a failure/spawn of Satan.

  • Anonymous

    He’s no worst that Gates and Waltons and the rest.

  • Anonymous

    Aside from the math debacle for the little bitty ones who can’t even read the directions (but no one is allowed to help them), the “prep/testing” takes up months of classroom time. It appears that the CC objective is to erase history, rewrite history, push social advocacy (teach that “angry” words are preferable) and insert political opinions that are presented as FACTS. If the student doesn’t answer the question “correctly” he cannot proceed to the next question. Or, he may be sent back to the computer for “remedial education”, before being retested, to see if his “attitude” has changed. In the 70’s & 80’s, they were giving “citizenship” tests—parents thought they were “tests” on George Washington, the Bill of Rights, the Three Branches of Government, etc. No. “We’re not testing objective knowledge. We are testing and scoring for the child’s threshold for behavior change without protest.” What does that sound like? Been coming for a long time. We, as parents, were asleep at the wheel.