Archives for category: U.S. education

Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College and fervent advocate for public education, asks why public education continues to lavish so much favorable attention in the leaders of the privatization movement while disregarding dissenting voices or–worse–treating our nation’s public schools shabbily.

He suggests that the Republican attack of public funding of PBS may have made the network dependent on the billionaires who favor privatization and view public schools with contempt.

With the sole exception of Bill Moyers, who has run programs about ALEC’s efforts to destroy every public service, and who recently interviewed me about the profit motive in the privatization movement, PBS has made no effort to investigate the assault on public education across the nation.

Dreier contrasts the lavish attention devoted to the privatization propaganda film “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” with the absence of attention to a remarkable new film celebrating the daily struggles of public schools in Pasadena, California. This film, “Go Public,” tells the true story of life in a public school. Will it appear on public television? That’s up to you.

The same might be said of “Rise Above the Mark,” another well-produced film that tells the story of real life in schools today and the insidious efforts to destroy public education by the powerful and complicit politicians.

David Sirota recently compelled PBS to return $3.5 million to billionaire John Arnold, who had underwritten a series on the “pension crisis,” an issue dear to him as a critic of defined benefit pensions.

Maybe Dreier’s critique will encourage PBS to give equal time to our nation’s public schools, not just their critics.

PS: I mistakenly attributed the article to another wonderful Paul–Paul Horton. Wrong! My bad!

Last year, Christopher Lubienski and Sarah Theule Lubienski published a book called “The Public School Advantage,” which shows through careful scholarly research that public schools have inherent advantages over private schools, especially p charter schools and voucher schools. In doing so, they stirred up a hornet’s nest.

In this post, Chris Lubienski responds to Patrick Wolf and Jay Greene of the “Department of Educational Reform” at the University of Arkansas, which is heavily funded by the Walton Family Foundation. Walton is well known as one of the nation’s leading–perhaps THE leading–funders of school privatization. For several years, they have handed out $150-160 million annually, almost all dedicated to charters and vouchers. On the political spectrum, they are far to the right.

Patrick Wolf is not only the 21st Century Endowed Chair in School Choice at the University of Arkansas, but the “independent” evaluator of the voucher programs in Milwaukee and the District of Columbia. He is an avowed proponent of school choice in general and vouchers in particular. Greene, who previously worked for the conservative Manhattan Institute, is now chair of the “Department of Educational Reform” at the University of Arkansas.

Both were students of Paul Peterson at Harvard, where he runs the Program on Educational Policy and Governance and edits Education Next. The editorial board of Education Next is made up of senior fellows at the conservative Hoover Institution (I was one of them for some years). Peterson is perhaps the nation’s leading advocate for school choice, at least in the academic world.

Lubienski not only challenges their criticisms of his book, but questions the ethics of releasing purportedly scholarly studies to the media without any peer review. This happens more and more frequently, as “think tanks” release studies and reports to a credulous media, who simply report what they received, not realizing that peer review never took place.and so the public hears about a study or a report in the newspaper not knowing they are getting “research” commissioned by advocates and carried out by sympathetic researchers.

The one thing that comes up again and again in these debates is the failure of the media to do due diligence before they report the findings that were recently released with great fanfare. They should ask who paid for the study, they should check the allegiances of those who conducted it, they should check to see if has been peer reviewed, they should determine whether it is part of a larger political agenda.

This is a wide-ranging interview with Salon that started as a discussion of the Network for Public Education, then went on to discuss budget cuts, high-stakes testing, Common Core, Race to the Top, privatization, and much more.

Professor David Hursh of the University of Rochester visited New Zealand, where he explained so-called “education reform” in the United States. He very bluntly describes the bipartisan agenda that is proving to be harmful to students, teachers, and public education.

Hursh met with educators in Australia and New Zealand over a five-week period, encouraging them to resist the high-stakes testing movement.

You have to see this film: “Rise Above the Mark.”

It was produced and written by educators and friends of public education in West Lafayette, Indiana.

It is professional, compelling, and honest about the challenges facing children, schools and teachers today.

The team interviewed Pasi Sahlberg, Linda Darling-Hammond, Marc Tucker, me, and others. But more importantly, the film interviews teachers, students, parents, and principals. It shows how today’s policies are crushing teachers and driving them out of teaching.

I saw the movie at a public showing at Butler University in Indianapolis. It is powerful.

You can go to and find out how you can sign up for a copy of the film and show it at your school and to your community.

See it.

You will be glad you did.

A New Book Just for You


ANNOUNCING—An Important New Book by
David C. Berliner, Gene V Glass, and Associates

Special Pre-publication Discount!
Use coupon code 50MYTHS2014

50 Myths and Lies is a powerful defense of public education…. It is a timely and hard-hitting book of scholarly but passionate polemic.”
Jonathan Kozol

“What do you get when two world-class scholars and a team of talented analysts take a hard look at 50 widely held, yet unsound beliefs about U.S. public schools? Well, in this instance you get a flat-out masterpiece!”
W. James Popham

“Anyone involved in making decisions about today’s schools should read this book.”
Linda Darling-Hammond

“Whether you agree or disagree with this book, if you care about the future of public education, you mustn’t ignore it.”
Andy Hargreaves

Two of the most respected voices in education and a team of young education scholars identify 50 myths and lies that threaten America’s public schools. With hard-hitting information and a touch of comic relief, Berliner, Glass, and their associates separate fact from fiction in this comprehensive look at modern education reform. They explain how the mythical failure of public education has been created and perpetuated in large part by political and economic interests who stand to gain from its destruction.


They expose a rapidly expanding variety of organizations and media that intentionally misrepresent facts. Many of these organizations also name themselves to suggest that their goal is unbiased service in the public interest when, in fact, they represent narrow political and financial interests. Where appropriate, the authors name the promoters of these deceptions and point out how their interests are served by encouraging false beliefs.


This provocative book features short essays on important topics to provide every elected representative, school administrator, school board member, teacher, parent, and concerned citizen with much food for thought, as well as reliable knowledge from authoritative sources.


Book Sections:

I.     Myths, Hoaxes, and Outright Lies

II.   Myths and Lies About Who’s Best: Charters, Privates, Maybe Finland?

III.  Myths and Lies About Teachers and the Teaching Profession: Teachers Are “Everything,” That’s Why We Blame Them and Their Unions

IV.   Myths and Lies About How to Make Our Nation’s School Better

V.    Myths and Lies About How Our Nation’s Schools Are Paid For: All Schools Are Equal, but Some Are More Equal Than Others

VI.   Myths and Lies About Making All Students Career and College Ready


David C. Berliner is an educational psychologist and bestselling author. He was professor and Dean of the Mary Lou Fulton Institute and Graduate School of Education. Gene V Glass is a senior researcher at the National Education Policy Center and a research professor in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder. Their Associates are the hand-picked leading PhDs and PhDs in training from their respective institutions.


This article by Michael Brenner, a professor of international relations at the University of Pittsburgh, is a trenchant summary of the relentless attack on public education launched by the Obama administration and backed by billions of federal and private dollars.

Brenner begins:

“A feature of the Obama presidency has been his campaign against the American public school system, eating way at the foundations of elementary education. That means the erosion of an institution that has been one of the keystones of the Republic. The project to remake it as a mixed public/private hybrid is inspired by a discredited dogma that charter schools perform better. This article of faith serves an alliance of interests — ideological and commercial — for whom the White House has been point man. A President whose tenure in office is best known for indecision, temporizing and vacillation has been relentless since day one in using the powers of his office to advance the cause. Such conviction and sustained dedication is observable in only one other area of public policy: the project to expand the powers and scope of the intelligence agencies that spy on, and monitor the behavior of persons and organizations at home as well as abroad.

“The audacity of the project is matched by the passive deference that it is accorded. There is no organized opposition — in civil society or politics. Only a few outgunned elements fight a rearguard action against a juggernaut that includes Republicans and Democrats, reactionaries and liberals — from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York to the nativist Christian Right of the Bible Belt. All of this without the national “conversation” otherwise so dear to the hearts of the Obama people, without corroboration of its key premises, without serious review of its consequences, without focused media attention.

“This past week, as the deadline approached for states to make their submissions to Arne Duncan’s Department of Education requesting monies appropriated under the Race to the Top initiative, we were reminded that the DOE has decreed that no proposal will be considered where the state government has put a cap on charter schools. In other words, the federal government has put its thumb heavily on the scales of local deliberations as to what approach toward charter schools best serves their communities’ interests. Penalties are being imposed on those who choose to limit, in any quantitative way, the charter school movement.

“This heavy-handed use of federal leverage by the Obama administration should not come as a surprise. After all, Obama himself has been a consistent, highly vocal advocate of “privatization.” He has travelled the country from coast to coast, like Johnny Appleseed, sowing distrust of public schools and – especially – public school teachers. They have been blamed for what ails America – the young unprepared for the 21st century globalized economy; the shortage of engineers; high drop-out rates; school districts’ financial woes, whatever.*”

Please read the entire article, and you will hear loud echoes of the many voices who have posted here: the demoralized teachers, the frustrated parents, the outraged students. We are the outgunned rearguard. And we will not be silent. Our voices will grow louder and louder as we demand an end to policies that destroy public education and demonize teachers and stigmatize students.

Join us at the first annual conference of the Network for Public Education on March 1-2 in Austin, Texas, where we will strengthen our resolve to stop the juggernaut of privatization.

Margaret Mead said it: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

I had a very exciting day in our nation’s Capitol today.

Randi Weingarten and the American Federation of Teachers invited me to spend a day in D.C. And offered to set up meetings with members of the education committee in both houses. At the end of he day, the AFT hosted a reception.

I took the train to D.C. to avoid the uncertain weather of recent days, and spent 2 hours on the train writing blogs.

The train arrived a bit before 10, and I went directly to meet with Congresswoman Gwen Moore of Milwaukee. She is well-informed and warm; she remembered me from my last visit in 2010. I was fortunate to have an escort from the AFT to make sure I got to my meetings.

All my conversations were off the record, so all I can share is that I was very candid, and so were the members of Congress.

I next saw Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Cleveland, who is very sharp. That too was a very pleasant meeting.

Then on to see Congresswoman Rosa de Lauro, who has a key position on the appropriations committee. She is a wonderful, kind, and delightful woman.

After a fast sandwich, we went to the Senate, where I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin–imagine, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin! And then we met Senator Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, who is very impressive.

Here is the news: George Miller of California, Democrat of California, announced his resignation a couple of weeks ago. Miller was a huge fan of testing and charters, as well as an architect of NCLB. Next in line was Rob Andrews, but today he unexpectedly announced he too was retiring. So very likely the next top Democrat on the House education committee will be Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, a liberal Democrat.

Things should get interesting in D.C. We have friends in high places.

Maureen Reedy taught in public school in Ohio for 29 years. She ran in 2012 for the state legislature and narrowly lost. She continues to be a leader in the fight against destructive privatization and excessive high-stakes testing.

She writes:

New Year’s Resolutions For Public Education:

First of all, Kudo’s to Ohio’s Plunderbund investigative journalist, Greg Mild, public school teacher, for his multi-article series exposing the shell games of ECOT’s 100 million dollar salary earning CEO, who only graduates 35% of his students, William Lager. Greg is brilliant!

On to New Year’s Resolutions:

Wouldn’t it be great if tens of thousands of educators, parents and other concerned community members made it their New Year’s resolution to join or start their local, grassroots Public Education group?

That is what IS turning the tide, that is what will ultimately preserve and protect our children, their futures, public education and our teaching profession for this generation and generations to come.

Yes, it would be great to have advocates for public education in Ohio’s State House, as Chiara Duggan suggests in previous comment here.

But, it is tough to get in, because the big money, corporate, for-profit, shell game charter operators are the largest contributors to the GOP. The GOP controls our state legislatures by gerrymandering district lines drastically in favor of candidates for the legislature that will craft laws straight out of the ALEC playbook which funnel our tax dollars to crooked charter school operators like William Lager of ECOT.

As 1 of the 12 public school teachers who ran for the Ohio House of Representatives last cycle, I can personally vouch for the great lengths ECOT founder, William Lager, White Hat founder, David Brennan, Michelle Rhee and other for-profit charter CEOs went to keep teachers OUT of Ohio’s State House.

We ran for the Ohio House, some of us, taking personal leave and giving up a year’s salary, to become advocates and a collective voice, for our children, public education, and our teaching profession.

ECOT’s William Lager, White Hat’s David Brennan, StudentsFirst(Last) Michelle Rhee and the GOP spent 1.5 million dollars in the last 2 weeks of the race against just my campaign, I do not have the total $ spent against all 12 teachers, but rest assured, it is in the millions.

So, what to do? Is all lost?
Do we lose our resolve to restore resources, authenticity and integrity to our public schools, the bedrock of our communities and our democracy?


Here is what I am convinced will turn the tide… along with following the incredible work being done day in and day out by Diane, Anthony Cody, Greg Mild of Plunderbund, and other bloggers across the country who are giving us resources and ammunition as warriors and patriots for Public Education:

• Join your local grassroots organization for preserving and strengthening our Public Schools, if there isn’t an organization in your area, start one.

• In Ohio, there are 3 active non-partisan groups of engaged community members, planning community wide forums and other action steps to educate the public and expose the for-profit (or non-profit, managed by for-profit) charter scam as well as the dangers of high stakes testing, A – F ranking of schools, evaluating teachers by test scores, etc. There are hundreds of other such groups across the country, you can find them on Diane and Anthony Cody’s Network for Public Education website:

• Here are the Face Book links to Ohio groups:

Central Ohio Friends of Public Education:

Northwest Ohio Friends of Public Education:

• Join the Diane and Anthony’s Network For Public Education, make a weekly donation of $5 to support candidates for school boards across the country who will fight for public education:

Wouldn’t it be great if tens of thousands of educators, parents and other concerned community members made it their New Year’s resolution to join or start their local, grassroots Public Education group?

That is what IS turning the tide, that is what will ultimately preserve and protect our children, their futures, public education and our teaching profession for this generation and generations to come.

Please read this article about an important new book by Christopher and Sarah Lubienski, scholars at the University of Illinois.

Their book is The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools.

The article contains an interview with Christopher Lubienski, in which he explains their “counterintuitive” findings.

Here is a sampling:

IDEAS: The thought of a “public school advantage” seems counterintuitive, and as you mention in the book it was initially a surprise to you, too. What did the data show?

LUBIENSKI: We know that private school students tend to score higher than students in public schools. But we also know that these are different populations, and they have different selection criteria. So we looked at the demographics of the different students in these nationally representative data sets, and we found those demographics more than explain the student achievement patterns….We focused specifically on mathematics, because math achievement is a better reflection of the school effects rather than the other subjects, like reading, which are often reflective of what the students are learning at home….Once we actually delved into those achievement statistics, public schools turned out to be more effective. Public school students are outscoring their demographic counterparts in private schools…at a level that is comparable to a few weeks to several months.

IDEAS: So public school students might be months ahead of their peers. And what about charter schools?

LUBIENSKI: They were already scoring beneath public schools before you control for demographics….But even once you control for those demographics, charter schools were still performing at a level lower than public schools, by as much as several months.

This is a book that Arne Duncan and every state and local superintendent should read.


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