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 Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

A site to discuss better education for all

Amazon Workers in Staten Island, New York, Warehouse Vote to Unionize
This could be a historic moment for the American labor movement. Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, voted to join a union. NEW YORK — Workers voted Friday to unionize an Amazon Staten Island warehouse, a historic decision that marks the first successful U.S. effort at the e-commerce giant and a major victory for the domestic labor movement. Amazon, the country’s second-largest private emp
Michael J. Petrilli: Test the Babies!
Michael J. Petrilli drew a lot of criticism a few months ago when he proposed to give NAEP tests to children in kindergarten, arguing that fourth grade was too late to start assessing student skills. Now he has an even more radical proposal: test the babies, he says. He writes: Earlier this year, I took to the pages of Education Next to make the case for NAEP to test starting in kindergarten, sta
How Russia Defends the War That Is Not a War
A friend forwarded this message from her friend in St. Petersburg, Russia: 1. Russia did not attack Ukraine, but Ukraine must definitely stop defending itself. 2. A special operation is not a war, but economic sanctions are a war. 3. The war began so that the war would not start. 4. Conscripts were not sent to Ukraine, but some of them died there. 5. The maternity hospital was bombed because the
Kevin Welner: New Courses Teach Laws Forbidding Teaching What the Law is About
With so many laws passed forbidding the teaching of “critical race theory,” Kevin Welner has come up with an ingenious solution. Teach the law itself! Kevin is a lawyer who teaches education policy at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is also director of the National Education Policy Center. He means this as an April Fool’s joke, but like all satires, there is more than a kernel of truth

MAR 31

Steve Nelson: The Bizarre Ironies of “Parent Rights”
Steve Nelson, the retired headmaster of the Calhoun School in New York City, has spotted the ironies and hypocrisies in the GOP pandering to the “parent rights” movement. Read the Bible and gasp at the references to incest and licentiousness. Nelson writes: There is a certain hypocritical Victorian flavor to the GOP these days, as they are turgid with moral rectitude when considering – gasp – tra
Frank Breslin: Children Deserve the Truth, Not Fairy Tales about the Past
Frank Breslin is a retired teacher in New Jersey. This article originally appeared in the NJEA monthly publication. What if your race had known only tragedy throughout America’s history? What if your people had been enslaved, murdered, persecuted and denied their civil rights? And what if, instead of owning up to having inflicted such outrages, showing remorse, asking forgiveness, and making amen

MAR 30

Carol Burris: How Charter Operators Get Rich: “Sweeps Contracts”
People often wonder how charter entrepreneurs make money. This article by Carol Burris, executive director of the Network for Public Education, appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog in 2019. It’s a cautionary tale that is as important now as it was then. The new regulations for the federal Charter Schools Program would ban “sweeps contacts” in which for-profit corporations control the f
Jan Resseger: Feds Propose New Rules to Bar Profiteers
Jan Resseger writes here about the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed new regulations f or the federal Charter Schools Program. To a significant extent, the Department has incorporated recommendations offered by the Network for Public Education aimed at blocking for-profit entrepreneurs from winning federal funding. The charter lobby is fighting furiously to block these new regulations. Publ
Peter Greene: Write a Letter to Support the Federal Ban on Funding For-Profit Charter Schools
Peter Greene writes here about the proposal to tighten federal regulations so that for-profit corporations will not qualify to receive federal charter funding. Greene writes: This is exactly the kind of boring policy wonk stuff that can make ordinary humans nod off. But it;’s worth paying attention to. It’s even worth giving the feds your two cents. I’ll tell you how at the end of this. First let
Please Support the U.S. Department of Education’s Proposals to Regulate Federal Funding of Charter Schools
This year, for the first time since the federal Charter Schools program was established in 1994, the U.S. Department of Education is setting forth meaningful regulation of the program. This is a historic development and great news for those of us who have watched the charter industry escape accountability and transparency, while tolerating grift and profiteering. As the Network for Public Educati

MAR 29

The Man Who Dared to Challenge Putin
One man tried to stop Vladimir Putin. His name was Boris Nemtsov. He formed a new political party and planned to run against Putin. In 2015, he was assassinated. New information reported by the BBC funds that he was followed by members of Russia’s security squad, who murdered him only days before he planned to lead a public protest against Putin. Here is his Wikipedia entry: Boris Yefimovich Nemt
Steve Ruis: There Are Lies and There Are Breitbart Lies
Steve Ruis doesn’t like lies. And he understands that some lies are worse than others. This Breitbart lie, he writes, is a giant whopper. A young man tragically took his life in Virginia. His mother went to the local school board and said he killed himself because of COVID isolation and “critical race theory.” Breitbart said so. But what Breitbart did not say was that the young man graduated high
National Education Policy Center: Vouchers Do Not Save Money
Recently, a pro-voucher organization released a report claiming that vouchers save money. The National Education Policy Center assigned the report to two scholars, and they found that the report’s claims were untrue. In addition, numerous studies have shown that students who use vouchers are likely to fall behind their peers in public schools, especially in mathematics. If you care about educatin
Vladimir Tismaneanu: Putin Is an Assassin of Memory
Vladimir Tismaneanu writes in American Purpose to denounce Putin’s claim that he is anti-Nazi. He is the author of “Putin’s Totalitarian Democracy.” “Taming” Vladimir Putin is an impossible task, based on wishful thinking. Western democracies are procedural, contractual, constitutional arrangements. The FSB-controlled Russia is none of those things. Last month I watched the 2021 movie Munich: The

MAR 28

“Vouchers Hurt Ohio”
More than 100 school districts in Ohio have joined a lawsuit against the state of Ohio opposing vouchers. Bill Phillis, former deputy superintendent of the Ohio Department of Education, now leads a pro-public school advocacy group called the Ohio Coalition of Equity and Adequacy. He and a new group called have organized the campaign to have the voucher program declared unconstitutional. This is
The Delights of Vacationing in Mexico City
As you read this, I am boarding a flight from Mexico City to New York City. I have been here for a week with my partner and our 15-year-old grandson. Two years ago, we planned to take the same trip in mid-March 2020. It was our gift for his bar mitzvah. But the week we were supposed to fly to Mexico City, COVID shut down everything, including our flight and hotel. We stayed in a centrally located
Frank Breslin: Why the Framers Wanted Separation of Church and State
Frank Breslin is a retired teacher in New Jersey who taught English, social studies, Latin, and German. He wrote recently in Church & State magazine about why the Framers of the Constitution wanted separation of church and state. His article reminded me of a Tom Lehrer song in which he sang, “The Catholics hate the Protestants, the Protestants hate the Catholics, and everyone hates the Jews.” Tom

MAR 27

Arizona: School Choice Allies Back Funding Overhaul to Benefit Charters, Hurt Public Schools
Whenever the school choice lobby in Arizona submits a new bill, you can be sure it will help charter schools, not public schools. As the legislative session winds down, a bill has been introduced to change the state’s funding formula. Charter schools would benefit, but many public schools, especially rural schools, would lose.. Mary Jo Pitzl writes in the Arizona Republic : A major overhaul of sc
Florida: Charter School Leader Convicted of Embezzling Nearly $400,000
You have to say this about Florida: the Republican leadership is not deterred by the theft of public funds. No matter how many charter school scandals are exposed, no matter how many charter leaders are convicted of theft, Florida continues to pour money into charters. In the latest scandal, a charter leader was convicted of misappropriatfing nearly $400,000. MIAMI — A former Florida charter scho
Kentucky: Charter Bill Rises from the Dead, Like a Zombie
Gay Adelmann, a tenacious champion of public schools in Kentucky, especially Jefferson County Louisville) reports here on the effort by Republicans to pass funding for charter schools. She writes: Hello friends, I regret to inform you that the harmful charter school legislation that we’ve managed to stave off in Kentucky since 2017, (

MAR 26

Shakespearean Troupe Performs in Rural West Virginia, Bringing the Bard to His Roots in Popular Culture
John W. Miller of The Daily Yonder writes about a phenomenal troupe of actors who are devoted to bringing Shakespeare to rural America, not as “cultural saviors,” but as people who love the works of the Bard. Remember that Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be performed. In 19th century America, actors brought Shakespeare plays and scenes to small towns, and sometimes performed in local taverns to
Berkshire & Schneider: Democrats Need a New Message About Education
Journalist Jennifer Berkshire and historian Jack Schneider wrote a warning in the New York Times to the Democratic Party about education. Democrats, they say, used to have a big advantage over Republicans on the education issue, but that advantage has almost disappeared. They say that Democrats have erred in celebrating education as the most important, if not the only, route to economic success.
USA TODAY: Should Charter Schools Pay Back the Federal Money They Took Without Need?
This is part 3 of the USA Today expose of the charter school grab of federal COVID funding intended to save small businesses. The series was written by investigative journalist Craig Harris. Even the lobbyist for charter schools (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools) pulled in nearly $700,000. Should the money be returned? He writes: USA TODAY found 1,139 U.S. charter schools had $1 billi

MAR 25

Putin’s Disinformation Campaign Collapses When He Orders Invasion of Ukraine
Tom Southern writes in WIRED about the spectacular collapse of Putin’s well-oiled disinformation machine after he ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Very few people—other than a small number of extremists on the right and the left—were fooled by his claims that he was “liberating” Ukraine from its “Nazi” government. Southern writes: FOR DECADES NOW, Vladimir Putin has slowly, carefully, and stealth
Dahlia Lithwick: The Shameful Failure of Senate Democrats to Stand Up for Judge Jackson
Writing in Slate, Dahlia Lithwick calls out Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee (excepting Senator Booker) for failing to support Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as Republicans pummeled her, berated her, distorted her record. She writes: I wrote earlier this week about the utter failure on the part of Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats to connect this hearing to what is going to be a catast
Please Confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court
After four days of hostile grilling by Republicans, the nation had the chance to see a person who stood up to every insulting and demeaning question with a calm and collected demeanor. Judge KJB has a judicial temperament. She demonstrated grace under pressure. She just received the highest rating from the American Bar Association, in recognition of her record, wisdom and intellect. The senators
Ted Cruz Attacks Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on CRT, Which His Own Daughters Are Taught
Ted Cruz harangued Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson about critical race theory. Why did her daughters attend a private school that teaches CRT, he asked, when she sits on the board of the school. Judge Jackson patiently explained that the board does not write the curriculum for the school, Georgetown Country Day School. Cruz professed shock that the school library contains books by Ibr

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all