Wendy Lecker is senior attorney for the Campaign for Fiscal
Equity at the Education Law Center. She writes frequently in
Connecticut newspapers about education issues and advocates on
behalf of students. Here
she reviews
Reign of Error. She
notes, quoting the Nobelist Niels Bohr, that true experts are
willing to acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them. She then
goes on to write: Another Nobel Prize winner, Albert
Einstein, defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over
again and expecting different results. This definition
characterizes the past decade or more of educational “reform”
efforts. Despite the failure of test-based accountability,
charter schools, Teach for America, school closures and other
schemes, policy-makers keep expanding these reforms, to the
detriment of public schools and America’s neediest
Dr. Ravitch has just published,
“Reign of Error,” a readable and well-researched book that examines
this (my term) insanity. The strengths of this book are its
simultaneous breadth and accessibility. Ravitch covers quite a bit
of terrain: the recent history of school reform, the major players
in the reform movement, the claims used to criticize American
public education, the “fixes” championed by reformers and Ravitch’s
suggestions for a more sane and productive education policy. The
book is meticulously researched. Yet, it is also easy-to-read and
engaging. For those who are unfamiliar with the current
landscape of education policy and its historical context, this
volume is a useful primer. For those steeped in all things
education, the book brings new insights. Her overarching
message, that American public education is the bedrock of a healthy
society and democracy, is a theme that cannot be repeated