Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools
The challenge former Assistant Secretary of Education, Dianne Ravitch unleashes is formidable. This author of ten books (The Death and Life of the Great American School System, The Language Police, and Left Back to name a few) states at the very beginning what her premise is: “You can't do the right things until you stop doing the wrong things.”
She immediately launches into a criticism of what she calls the corporate reform. Detailing the sellout to corporate America, Ravitch, the 2011 recipient of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize, also acknowledges the criticisms leveled at her earlier works.
Whatever else Ravitch may be, she is a supreme researcher, and Reign of Error supports that. She leaves nothing out in her microscopic examination of the American education dilemma. She claims the corporate reformers who currently hold sway in educational circles do not want to actually reform education but rather want to turn education into an entrepreneurial sector of our economy.
It is, according to Ravitch, a “corporate” reform movement funded in a large measure by major foundations. She names these corporate reformers. Among the more noticeable are The American Federation for Children, ALEC, The Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
In a supremely executed exposition, Ravitch challenges the monarchy of standardized testing, takes on the issue of national achievement, graduation rates, poverty, and the whole range of merit pay schemes.
Her conclusions will resonate with the reader. Who should read this agonizingly challenging book? School administrators should not. Too many have opted into the corporate reform movement. So have many teachers with the promise of smaller classes, and a better clientele of students. Government leaders should not because they are a part of the corporate reform movement. Who then should read Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error? The public should.