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Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America's Public Schools Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 21, 2020
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“A fervent defense of public education with abundant examples of how privatization has failed to deliver on its promises.” —Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
- Publisher : Knopf; Illustrated edition (January 21, 2020)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0525655379
- ISBN-13 : 978-0525655374
- Item Weight : 1.61 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.64 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #611,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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In telling this story Diane Ravitch rightly points out: 1) that the root cause of low performing schools is poverty, and 2) unlike the earlier rich who wanted to reform and improve the public schools, the new wealthy disruptors (Goliaths) don’t trust the public sector which includes “government schools” and they don’t trust local control, so they use philanthropy and the promotion of charter schools as devices to control under the guise of helping and 3) for the disruptors profits are more important than students.
In addition to the above three points Ravitch poses, what I believe the central question of the book on page 140 “Why were the billionaires so eager to open charter schools whose results were not different from those of public schools and for which there was very little demand? Why not put their millions into fighting for better funding for public schools, where the vast majority of students are?” but she never really answers her question. Instead, she left me with inciteful stories of the fight between David and Goliath. I was hoping for an answer that also pointed to the underlying cause of the battle—the economy.
What’s missing in this analysis is the sinister C-word (capitalism) the privatizing, isolating, profit-maximizing engine and creator of vast inequality that sets the stage for the battle between Goliath and David. We need a chapter on the relationship between capitalism and public education. Despite the excellent stories “Slaying Goliath” in uncritically accepting capitalism as the norm will only propose reforms that will eventually fail as did the new deal.
By approaching problems with schooling through an analysis of capitalism resistors will be able to act more effectively in their battle with Goliath, for they will see: 1) where poverty comes from (the class struggle and growing inequality) and 2) how Goliath, in his frenzy for profit and growth considers schooling to be a training ground for compliant workers and consumers 3) why Goliath has grown so powerful and can influence education, the economy, and government through lobbying and control of the media.
Read “Slaying Goliath,” and learn that some of the wealthiest and most powerful Americans are trying to take away our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I was a public school teacher in California from 1975 – 2005. During those thirty years, I worked 60 to 100 hours a week during the school year. I took work home seven days a week and couldn’t wait for the winter and spring breaks, not because of the time off from teaching, but because I’d have time to catch up correcting student work. After all, teachers have to sleep, too.
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan released a report that was a lie. That report was called “A Nation at Risk,” and it painted the nation’s public schools as failures. After that misleading report, teachers were called lazy and incompetent. The public schools were blamed for the prison population in the United States that was really caused by Presidents Nixon and Reagan’s war on recreational drugs like marijuana.
The critics of the public schools even came up with a misleading term that was also a lie. It was called “The school to prison pipeline.” There has never been a school to prison pipeline in the United States.
After “A Nation at Risk,” came the Self Esteem Movement that got its start in Catholic K-12 schools and from the pulpit of evangelical Christian churches. When that failed, teachers were blamed again. However, the majority of teachers, including me, did not agree with the Self Esteem Movement that put pressure on us to stop failing students that refused to learn and inflate grades so children would feel good about themselves, even if they didn’t deserve it.
That top-down failure was followed by The Whole Language Approach to teaching. English Lit Teachers like me were told to stop teaching mechanics, grammar, and spelling because it was boring. We were told that the kids could learn that boring stuff just by reading on their own, except most kids do not read on their own.
A decade later, when that Whole Language Approach that was forced on teachers also failed, teachers were blamed again.
That is why, back in the 1980s, I started to think there was a conspiracy theory to destroy the public schools. Over the years, as one top-down movement after another to improve the public schools failed, I convinced myself that it could not be right that someone was trying to destroy our public schools.
Who could be that cruel, that greedy, that monstrous, to deliberately demonize teachers and blame them for almost every problem in the United States? The critics said teachers were lazy. The critics said we were incompetent. The critics said our labor unions were corrupt and were getting in the way of improving the public schools.
I retired from teaching in 2005 and swore that if I was forced to teach again, I’d instead rejoin the U.S. Marines and fight in Afghanistan against Islamic terrorists. Since I had already served in the Marines and fought in Vietnam before I was a teacher, I knew that being a teacher was way worse because of the way teachers are treated in this country.
When I retired, I took a 40-percent pay cut and left without medical insurance, but the critics said teachers were greedy, and our retirement systems would cause the states to go bankrupt. I live in California, and about 6% of the state’s annual budget goes to support the teacher retirement system.
If you believe that retired teachers are greedy, let me sell you a vacation home on a moon orbiting Saturn. I understand the view of Saturn’s rings are incredible.
Read “Slaying Goliath,” and you will learn that what I suspected back in the 1980s was real. There has been a movement in the United States for decades to replace the nation’s democratic, transparent, public schools and destroy the teaching profession. That disruptive movement wants to replace the people’s public school with a profit-driven, often corrupt, secretive, autocratic, private school system that operates without rules and oversight.
Read “Slaying Goliath,” and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly funded, private-sector charter school industry are mostly deceivers and liars.
Read “Slaying Goliath,” and you will learn that the leaders of the publicly-funded private/religious voucher school industry are also mostly deceivers and liars.
When you read “Slaying Goliath,” you will learn who those liars are. You will learn who is behind the disruption of our public schools and how they are subverting our Constitutional Republic to strip us of our rights. Then maybe you will be angry enough to support and even join the passionate resistance of parents, grandparents, teachers, and children that are already fighting to save America’s public schools.
The book is lively and filled with stories, events, with quotes and perspectives from education's best thinkers and writers, designed to convince, then inspire, the reader. A worthy addition to the current conversation about school reform, from the POV of those who are best positioned to see the need for, design and carry out reform.