Archives for category: Resistance

Steven Singer reviews SLAYING GOLIATH in the pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 

He writes:

The whole text is about the community of teachers, parents, students and concerned citizens who’ve been fighting against the corporate interests trying to destroy public education.

And let me tell you, it’s like nothing 
I’ve ever read. This is a history torn from the front page. It’s a continuation of her previous two books — 2010’s “The Life and Death of the American School System,” which was a history of the decadeslong plot, and 2013’s “Reign of Error,” which was also a research-based guide to stopping the destruction. “Slaying Goliath” is a chronicle of how the movement to counter the disruptors is succeeding.

One of the things I love about it is that term — the “disruptors.” She says that it’s time we stop calling the anti-public school crowd “education reformers.” They don’t deserve that label. They aren’t trying to bring about the positive change typically associated with reform. They’re trying to disrupt our school system like a hedge fund manager or vulture capitalist would do to a business in a hostile takeover.

However, the tide has finally turned against them. After three decades, it’s become painfully clear that the snake oil they are selling just doesn’t work. Our public schools are NOT failing — they’re struggling under reduced funding and the needs of students who are increasingly living in poverty. Standardized testing is NOT an effective way to assess learning; it mainly reflects family income. Charter schools are NOT producing better academic outcomes than authentic public schools; in fact, they often do much worse while denying students basic services and scamming the public.

Where the book is truly unique is in its celebration of the education activist community. Diane Ravitch talks about groups like Journey for Justice, United Opt Out, the Badass Teachers Association, and her own organization, the Network for Public Education. She talks about education bloggers, researchers, journalists, student protestors and parent groups.

In short, Ms. Ravitch’s book is not just about the Goliath of the disruptors. It’s a celebration of everyday Davids who stand up to the hulking beast and armed with only their slingshots of facts have continually beaned him between the eyes.

Alan Singer posts here a brilliant speech that he delivered about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. the civil rights movement, and Dr. King’s continuing legacy today. He reminds us that the issues that Dr. King addressed are still unresolved: racism, poverty, war, violence. He points out that when Dr.King was assassinated, he was helping low-wage sanitation workers in Memphis to organize a union to improve their wages, working conditions, and lives. The next time you hear a billionaire or right-winger claim that school choice is “the civil rights issue of our time,” ask him or her (or yourself) whether they are also fighting as Dr. King did to end racism, poverty, war, and violence.

Speaking recently at the Uniondale, New York, public library, Singer said (and this is an excerpt),

The traditional myth about the Civil Rights Movement, the one that is taught in schools and promoted by politicians and the national media, is that Rosa Parks sat down, Martin Luther King stood up, and somehow the whole world changed. But the real story is that the Civil Rights Movement was a mass democratic movement to expand human equality and guarantee citizenship rights for Black Americans. It was definitely not a smooth climb to progress. Between roughly 1955 and 1968 it had peaks that enervated people and valleys that were demoralizing. Part of the genius of Dr. King was his ability to help people “keep on keeping on” when hope for the future seemed its bleakest.

While some individual activists clearly stood out during the Civil Rights Movement, it involved hundreds of thousands of people, including many White people, who could not abide the U.S. history of racial oppression dating back to slavery days. It is worth noting that a disproportionate number of whites involved in the Civil Rights movement were Jews, many with ties to Long Island. In the 1960s, the Great Neck Committee for Human Rights sponsored an anti-discrimination pledge signed by over 1,000 people who promised not to discriminate against any racial or ethnic groups if they rented or sold their homes. They also picketed local landlords accused of racial bias. The Human Rights Committee and Great Neck synagogues hosted Dr. King as a speaker and raised funds for his campaigns on multiple occasions.

King and Parks played crucial and symbolic roles in the Civil Rights Movement, but so did Thurgood Marshall, Myles Horton, Fanny Lou Hammer, Ella Baker, A. Philip Randolph, Walther Reuther, Medger Evers, John Lewis, Bayard Rustin, Pete Seeger, Presidents Eisenhower and Johnson, as well as activists who were critics of racial integration and non-violent civil disobedience such as Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X, and the Black Panthers.

The stories of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King have been sanitized to rob them of their radicalism and power. Rosa Parks was not a little old lady who sat down in the White only section of a bus because she was tired. She was only 42 when she refused to change her seat and made history. In addition, Parks was a trained organizer, a graduate of the Highlander School where she studied civil disobedience and social movements, and a leader of the Montgomery, Alabama NAACP. Rosa Parks made a conscious choice to break an unjust law in order to provoke a response and promote a movement for social change. 

Martin Luther King challenged the war in Vietnam, U.S. imperialism, and laws that victimized working people and the poor, not just racial discrimination. When he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, he was helping organize a sanitation workers union. If Dr. King had not be assassinated, but had lived to become an old radical activist who constantly questioned American policy, I suspect he would never have become so venerated. It is better for a country to have heroes who are dead, because they cannot make embarrassing statements opposing continuing injustice and unnecessary wars.

The African American Civil Rights Movement probably ended with the assassination of Dr. King in April 1968 and the abandonment of Great Society social programs by the Democratic Party, but social inequality continues. What kind of country is it when young Black men are more likely to be involved with the criminal justice system than in college, inner city youth unemployment at the best of times hovers in the high double-digits, and children who already have internet access at home are the ones most likely to have it in school? What kind of country is it when families seeking refuge from war, crime, and climate disruption are barred entry to the United States or put in holding pens at the border? These are among the reasons I am recruiting everyone to a movement for social justice. These are the things that would have infuriated Martin Luther King.

I promised I would share excerpts from four of Dr. King’s speeches. Everyone has the phrases and speeches that they remember best. Most Americans are familiar with the 1963 “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and the 1968 “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” speech in Memphis just before he died. These are four other speeches that still resonate with me the most today.

The first speech I reference is one for local Uniondale, Long Island, and Hofstra pride. In 1965, Dr. King was honored and spoke at the Hofstra University graduation. It was less than one year after he received the Nobel Peace Prize and three years before his assassination. In the speech Dr. King argued “mankind’s survival is dependent on man’s ability to solve the problems of racial injustice, poverty and war” and that the “solution of these problems is . . . dependent upon man squaring his moral progress with his scientific progress, and learning the practical art of living in harmony.” I have no doubt that if Dr. King were alive today, he would be at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, demands for gun control, climate activism, and calls for the impeachment of Donald Trump. 

In his Hofstra speech, Dr. King told graduates, families, and faculty, “we have built machines that think, and instruments that peer into the unfathomable ranges of interstellar space. We have built gigantic bridges to span the seas, and gargantuan buildings to kiss the skies . . . We have been able to dwarf distance and place time in chains . . . Yet in spite of these spectacular strides in science and technology, something basic is missing. That is a sort of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish. But we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

Read the rest of this powerful speech by Professor Singer about Dr. King’s relevance for us today.

 

 

Time to register for the best education conference ever! 

Meet your allies and leaders of the Resistance!

I will see you in Philly March 28-29!

 

 

 

SLAYING GOLIATH will be published one week from tomorrow!

I can’t wait for you to read it and send your comments.

Meanwhile, the latest kudo came from an unexpected source: LITHUB.

Its Astrology Book Club selected SLAYING GOLIATH as one of its annual recommendations.

CAPRICORN
Diane Ravitch, Slaying Goliath (Knopf, January 21)

If you really need something to get done, call a Capricorn. These tough, unwavering strivers won’t stop until they reach the top of whatever mountain they’ve set their signs on—which, after reading this book, will be saving America’s public schools. So consider it a service to us all.

Now is the time to register for the best conference you have ever attended! 

You will meet the bloggers you read here regularly.

You will meet leaders of the Resistance from across the country.

You will have to choose among amazing panels.

Join me in Philadelphia, March 28-29!

 

This is the current (and evolving) list of my speaking engagements in connection with the publication of my new book: SLAYING GOLIATH: THE PASSIONATE RESISTANCE TO PRIVATIZATION AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICA’S PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

I am trying not to wear myself out. Ten years ago, I hopped from city to city like a mountain goat.

But now I am 81 years old, and my knees are worn out. I have to pace myself.

Come out and say hello if you are in one of these cities.

SLAYING GOLIATH is a pro-public education, pro-teacher, pro-social justice, pro-common-good book. It is a book meant to give hope and encouragement to those who stand up to the billionaires and fight the status quo of choice and high-stakes testing. It contains inspiring stories of parents, students, teachers, and civil rights activists who took action against the powerful and won. At some of these events, the bookstore charges a modest fee to cover its expenses. Most are free.

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The Eau Claire County Board was asked to endorse a resolution saluting “School Choice Week,” but homeowners turned out to denounce the loss of money from their public schools that was sent to voucher schools.

One after another, homeowners asked why they were supporting two school systems, why the money intended for their public schools was being diverted to religious schools, why their taxes were being used to subsidize the tuition of students who had never attended public schools.

That discussion followed a report by the state Department of Public Instruction showing Wisconsin taxpayers will spend $349.6 million on school vouchers this school year, up from $302 million the previous year. A total of 43,450 students are receiving voucher funds this year, an increase of 3,411, or 8.5 percent,  from last school year..

Concerns about the impact of that funding shift on public schools surfaced at a December meeting of the Eau Claire County Board, where residents spoke against a resolution proclaiming Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 as Eau Claire County “School Choice Week.” Speakers told board supervisors that school choice is just another term for voucher schools, and that taxpayer funding for those schools hurts Wisconsin’s public schools.  

After hearing from eight speakers, County Board supervisors voted 24-2 against the measure. The city of Eau Claire is home not only to a public school district but to the Regis Catholic Schools system, where 182 of the 800 students (22.8 percent) enrolled this school year receive voucher scholarships, according to DPI data. 

The County Board action in Eau Claire is a sign that public school advocates are being increasingly vocal about the expansion of private school vouchers at the expense of public school districts and making taxpayers fund two different education systems.

Yes, your voice matters. Speak up against the diversion of money from public schools to privately operated charters and religious school vouchers.

Eight homeowners spoke out, and the board voted 24-2 NOT to pass a resolution supporting “school choice week.”

“School Choice Week” is “Defund Public Schools” week.

Do not celebrate the underfunding of your public schools!

This is a book you will want to read if you are a parent, a teacher, a teacher educator.

Opting Out: The Story of the Parents’ Grassroots Movement to Achieve Whole-Child Schools is an essential addition to your bookshelf.

It was written by Professor David Hursh of the University of Rochester and parents leaders of the New York Opt Out movement Jeanette Deutermann, Lisa Rudley, and Hursh’s graduate students, Zhe Chen and Sarah McGinnis.

Together they explain the origins and development of the one of the most significant parent-led reactions against high-stakes testing and in favor of education that is devoted to the full development of children as healthy and happy human beings. The media liked to present the Opt Out movement as a “union-led” action, but that was always a false narrative. It was created and led by parent activists who volunteered their time and energy to save their children from test centric classrooms and wanted a “whole-child” education that helped their children become eager and engaged learners.

David Hursh has written and lectured about the assault on public education and the dangers of high-stakes testing.

https://www.waikato.ac.nz/wmier/news-events/prof-david-hursh-on-the-takeover-of-public-education

University of Rochester Meliora Address (2013): High-stakes testing and the decline of teaching. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIQu2Hh_YkI

Keynote address: New York State as a cautionary tale (2014). New Zealand union of primary teachers and administrators. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hW4vZGsLiL4

The parent co-authors are leaders of the New York State Opt Out movement, primarily through their role in New York State Allies for Public Education, which has organized hundreds of thousands of parents to say no to excessive and pointless testing, whose only beneficiaries are the big testing corporations.

The parents of the Opt Out movement are a stellar example of the Resistance that is bringing an end to this current era of child abuse and test-driven miseducation.

I was happy to endorse the book and am pleased now to recommend it to you.

 

 

Thomas Ultican, retired teacher of advanced mathematics and physics in California, has written the first review of my new book SLAYING GOLIATH: THE PASSIONATE RESISTANCE TO PRIVATIZATION AND THE FIGHT TO SAVE AMERICA’S SCHOOLS.

He liked it!

He calls it “spiritually uplifting” and describes it (accurately) as a “fight to save the commons.”

Enjoy!

California Sunday Magazine published interviews with teachers about their role in striking, walking out, negotiating, bargaining.

It begins:

On February 22, 2018, some 20,000 teachers in West Virginia — many of them wearing red in solidarity — walked out of their classrooms. That April saw strikes in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma, as teachers vented their collective frustration in what became known as the #RedforEd movement. In early 2019, educators picketed in Oakland and Los Angeles, in districts across Washington state and Oregon, and again in Colorado. And this fall, educators in Chicago, the nation’s third-largest school district, took to the streets.

After years of system-wide underinvestment, educators are pushing back hard. They have married concerns about pay with their ability to adequately educate students . They have made a few gains — one or two fewer students in their overcrowded classes and significant raises in some cases. But many still see a long way to go, and as another election ramps up, the public will have to decide how much these issues matter. In these pages, we hear from teachers who made the decision to walk the picket lines and others who decided to stay put.