Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools by Diane Ravitch

10. The Resistance Fights Back

  • Disruptive reforms have been backed by every administration since Reagan in the 1980s with help from the media. Money from billionaires from the left and right was infused into board of education elections around the country. The push towards privatization was a boon to companies that produced tests and educational technology. Mayors and other noneducators like Arnie Duncan pushed privatization and many low performing schools were closed. This disrupted neighborhoods as students could no longer attend neighborhood schools. Relocated students often formed gangs and violence increased. Students relocated usually performed worse.
  • The chapter ends with an extended story about the Douglas County Colorado school district whose board was taken over by pro-voucher members supported by a heavy infusion of outside money. They instituted vouchers that were blocked by legal action, paid teachers based on availability, and instituted a cumbersome teacher evaluation program. In spite of their lack of funding, parents organized and took back control in 2017 and rolled back all of the reforms as did some parent groups elsewhere in the country.

11. The Resistance Goes National

  • Here Ravitch sites the efforts of large organizations such as the NAACP, the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Education Law Center to combat charter schools. They have issued reports that show how charters are responsible for increasing segregation, cherry-pick their student body, and weed out high-needs students. They also bring lawsuits when they feel the law is on their side.

12. Dark Money in Massachusetts and Connecticut

  • The dark money here is money that wealthy people donate to pro-charter candidates running in local school board elections or to support public referendums. It’s “dark” because it is bundled by PACs so that voters don’t know where it is coming from. One notable effort covered in depth is the 2016 referendum in Massachusetts to increase the number of charter schools each year.” The so-called “Question 2” was supported by wealthy people from out of state, the Republican governor, and the liberal Boston Globe newspaper to the tune of $40 million. Opponents were able to raise $25 million and defeated the proposal 62% to 38%. Unlike the “Yes” campaign there was no dark money on the “No” side. What they had were a lot of people going door to door. They were able to convince voters that more charters would hurt public schools and people in districts who already had charters voted no in large numbers.

13. The Miracles That Weren’t: New Orleans and Florida

  • The first so-called miracle is the complete takeover of all public schools in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At first test scores went up, but they soon flattened out. The real reason for the initial boost seems to be due to the fact that there were fewer poor kids in the population after the storm. Many poor people who evacuated never came back. The takeover included the elimination of the teachers’ union and the firing of all teachers, most of whom were black. They were replaced by young mostly white teachers with five weeks of training supplied by Teach for America.
  • The second miracle involves the state of Florida where chapter and voucher friendly politicians have done their best to promote these schools. Although the state constitution explicitly forbids using public funds to support religious schools, 80% of the unregulated voucher schools are religious. Every year about as many charter schools close as open due to financial or academic failure. They also feature high teacher turnover and low teacher salaries. Lax regulation of these schools has also created opportunities for financial mismanagement and criminal corruption.
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