Make no mistake: America’s public schools, an indispensable component of our religiously neutral (that is, secular) democracy, are under serious siege. Hordes of pseudo-reformers, privatizers, voucherizers, charterizers, hucksters, snake-oil salespersons, privateers, wealthy right-wing foundations, billionaire busybodies, hijackers, conservative ideologues, religious Right gurus, political hacks, assorted noneducators, and media toadies are working day and night to undermine, weaken, and destroy our public schools. Collateral damage from these campaigns will include serious harm to religious freedom, our heritage of church-state separation, and community harmony in our increasingly diverse society. The tsunamis of funds spent on lobbying and influencing elections by these privatizers dwarf to insignificance the paltry sums spent by the teachers’ unions on advocacy for children and teachers.
Education historian Diane Ravitch, author of the important 2010 book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, spells this out in fine, well-documented detail in her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (Alfred A. Knopf). This may well be the most important single book on education in decades.