Reviews

Choice
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Ravitch (New York Univ.) presents a well-articulated argument against the privatization of schools. Criticism of low test scores, the achievement gap between white and nonwhite students, and merit pay (among other points) are cited as the favorite talking points of politicians seeking to find evidence of a failing school system. However, Ravitch addresses the faulty logic in each talking point while systematically building a case against school privatization that is not (for the most part) tedious or self-righteous. Ravitch offers a carefully crafted sequence of recommended solutions to assist struggling schools as well as highlight many of the strengths and the progress of the school system over time. Ravitch acknowledges her original support of No Child Left Behind and charter schools before discussing the reasons why she became disillusioned with both movements. While the debate over the US school system will continue for years to come, this book offers a unique lens through which to reevaluate past arguments as well as information currently being disseminated to the public. This book is recommended for individuals in teacher preparation programs (undergraduate and graduate), administrators, related professionals, and readers with an interest in the public school system. Summing Up: Recommended. All readership levels. G. Moreno Northeastern Illinois University


Publishers Weekly
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Ravitch (The Death and Life of the Great American School System) offers a vital nonpartisan critique of the policies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and the school privatization movement. Backed by abundant data, she distinguishes between these policies and their enactment, which demands that students master achievement tests, while educators face decreased funding, firings, and school closures. Meanwhile, unprecedented amounts of tax dollars flow into private charter school chains. Ravitch convincingly analyzes the rhetoric of Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates, and other private/public school-choice advocates, whose campaigns and lobbying efforts for charter schools have created a network of corporations funneling millions of earmarked educational dollars into administrative salaries, rents, test-prep consultants, and textbook publishers. As Ravitch argues, the mission of public education-preparing young people to take part in a democracy-cannot be fulfilled by competition between private corporations and public schools to increase test scores in reading and math at the expense of other subjects. Her practical solutions include a return to localized school control, early-childhood education for all, better teacher training, mentoring, and retention, as well as better achievement metrics for students and teachers. Categorizing current policy as "educational malpractice," Ravitch concludes with the suggestion that "protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time." 41 graphs. Agent: Glen Hartley, Writers' Representatives. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Education scholar Ravitch follows The Death and Life of the Great American School System (2010) with a well-researched and insightful critique of current efforts at public education reform. Putting the current privatization movement in the broader historical context of public school reform, Ravitch argues that there never was an ideal time when social inequities didn't fall hardest on poor and minority students. Instead of focusing exclusively on fixing what is considered wrong with public schools, policy makers should enact antipoverty initiatives to reduce racial and socioeconomic inequality reflected in inadequate health care and preschool learning even before children enter school, she contends. Though she concedes historic and current shortcomings, Ravitch debunks myths regarding declining high-school graduation rates and challenges the validity of standardized tests results, international test scores, and teacher accountability measured by students' test results. Ravitch tackles hot-button issues, including charter schools, and takes particular aim at Teach for America and school reform leader Michelle Rhee, questioning the sincerity of conservative foundations backing the movement in an effort to dismantle public education. Ravitch advocates for more rigorous preschools, smaller class sizes, better teacher training, and comprehensive social services, among other initiatives, in this passionate plea to protect the nation's public schools from privatization.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2010 Booklist