This is one of the best reviews of “Reign of Error” that I have read. Because it was written as an editorial, it didn’t go into close detail, as others have, but it went right to the point:


What she claims is that many tried-and-true practices work; many new-fangled innovations now favored by politicians and powerful interest groups do not. Small class sizes demonstrably improve achievement, for instance; merit pay and charter schools motivated by profit do not. In this context, she has high praise for Vermont, calling it the “best education state in the nation” because of its commitment to small neighborhood schools governed by local communities. Other states have been more easily swayed by the promise of charters and by federal money that encourages competition among schools.

But of all the points Ravitch makes, we find most compelling her assertion that corporate money and power threaten the integrity and possibly the very existence of public education. Public schools uphold collective values, break down racial and religious barriers, and are integral to the concept of citizenship. Without them, democracy would be jeopardized. Local communities, not hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs, must remain financially and socially invested in public education. That’s a back-to-basics lesson not to be forgotten.