Jersey Jazzman has pulled together an impressive collection of smears, wherein the corporate reformers’ attack machine tried to silence and/ or intimidate their critics.

JJ’s recitation brought to mind some of the many brushes I have had with the smear machine.

The first occurred in 2007, when I realized that someone in the NYC Department of Education was following me to my lectures and taping them. I saw this on four occasions and was curious but shrugged it off.

Then I realized what was going on when I read a sharp attack on me in the Néw York Post, calling me a “hypocritical critic.”

I later learned from journalists that the DOE was taping my lectures so they could compile a dossier called “Diane Ravitch, Then and Now.” They made the shocking discovery that I had changed my mind! First they showed the dossier to reporters, but none thought it was a story.

So someone at the DOE wrote the article, found someone else to sign it (the leader of the NYC Partnership, a business group that backs Bloomberg), sent it to the mayor’s public relations firm, which placed it in the Post. A journalist friend shared the email thread with me.

I promptly responded. The Post graciously gave me the opportunity to do so.

Since then, there have been so many smears and accusations that I have learned to deal with them.

Here are the general rules of engagement:

Assess the situation and do one of two things: Ignore them or refute them.

Either will be very frustrating for the smear machine, because they want to get to you. They want you to get angry; they want you to respond. If you ignore them, it reveals their insignificance and impotence.

However, if the smear machine is spreading outright lies that you must refute, take them on. Never be afraid. Confront them fearlessly. Do not be defensive. Do not be angry. Be civil even if they are not. Don’t raise your voice or lose your cool. The cardinal rule about bullies is that they are cowards.

Make the decision about which strategy to use, depending on the situation.