In ‘Slaying Goliath,’ former privatization supporter fights for public schools

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"Slaying Goliath" and author, Diane Ravitch. Photo courtesy of Diane Ravitch.

“The education reform movement is not only a hoax, it’s dead,” says Diane Ravich, one-time advocate of privatization who’s now fighting “to save public schools.”  

School reform is a hot topic in next month’s LA Unified School Board election, with a challenge to charter school skeptic Jackie Goldberg, a campaign funded in part by Eli Broad.    

In her new book, “Slaying Goliath,” Ravich targets Broad, Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg as billionaires “with an agenda.” Contrary to such reformers, she claims that test scores and graduation rates “are higher than they’ve ever been. Public schools are doing better than they ever have.”  

She continues, “And yet they’re being defunded. ... We’ve seen teachers demoralized, teachers fired, principals fired and schools closed.”  

LA Unified has more charter schools than any other district in the United States.  They’re taxpayer supported, but Ravich argues they pull the best students away from other public schools, and that scarce resources go with them, leaving many young people behind.  

President Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, is the latest to put federal money behind reforms started with George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” policy and followed by Barack Obama’s “Race to the Top” grant. According to Ravich, DeVos is now spending $440 million,  “not for brand new startup schools, but for massive corporate charter change the equivalent of Wal-Mart.”  

Ravich is especially critical of standardized testing. She says, “It does not work. We’re not measuring the right things.” She believes the real reason many students fall behind in achievement is poverty. 

Credits

Guests:
Howard Blume - education reporter for the Los Angeles Times - @howardblume, Diane Ravitch - New York University - @DianeRavitch

Host:
Warren Olney

Producer:
Andrea Brody