Sam Chaltain is one of our most thoughtful bloggers.

This is his review of Reign of Error, which appears in his regular column in Education Week.

I appreciated his connection of this book to the work of the muckrakers. It is a comparison that I made in my own mind, but kept to myself because I was loathe to be so bold as to associate myself with the bold reformism of such giants as Jacob Riis, Lincoln Steffens, Ida B. Wells, Ida Tarbell, Rachel Carson, and Ralph Nader, among many others. They saw injustice, and they wrote frankly and without equivocation or moderation to awaken the public. And the public, once aroused, demanded change from the status quo. This is a tradition I would proudly associate myself with, but with a deep sense of humility.

But Sam goes on to say that he thinks I went too far. He thinks I am too critical of the reformers and should have found common ground with them. Surely there will be others who agree.

I must confess that I can’t find common ground with ALEC. I can’t find common ground with governors and legislators who think of ways to degrade the teaching profession, to eliminate academic freedom for teachers, to cut their pensions, to cut their pay, to grade them by invalid measures like VAM. Nor can I find common ground with big corporations running charter schools and displacing community public schools, nor with for-profit charter schools.

I would like to find reformers who share common ground with me and with the nation’s teachers on the issues of child health and nutrition, on the issue of the malevolent effects of poverty on children’s lives. I would like to find reformers who want to collaborate–not compete–with the community public schools.

As Sam points out, democracy thrives on disagreement. But to have a disagreement, both sides must have equal access to the media. That has certainly not been the case. I can count on the fingers of one hand the foundations that support public education, the major newspapers that question the closing of public schools to make room for privately managed charters.

Should I have been more conciliatory? I will leave that for readers to judge. The book comes out on Tuesday.