Slaying Goliath


Slaying Goliath
The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools
By Diane Ravitch
Penguin Books


Dear friends and colleagues,
Three cheers for Slaying Goliath.
Diane Ravitch and I have been agonizing together over the fate of public education (and the fate of teacher unions) for a long time. As usual we have different takes on it from time to time. This time our differences about this or that person or situation are definitely minor.

I am a supporter of the singleton self-governing charters started by teachers like myself who did not have the good luck I did. I essentially was given the chance—along with many, many friends, starting in the mid-1970s, to create several charter-like schools in East Harlem within the regular New York City system and again in the 1990s in the Boston school system. These exciting opportunities led to many dozens, maybe hundreds, of mostly small successful innovative schools throughout the country. Most resembled what Al Shanker had hoped for, which Ravitch reminds us of favorably (and that I had forgotten).

But this enthusiasm for teacher-led innovations—never the dominant trend amongst reformers—has gradually disappeared. It is this that makes me ambivalent about attacking charters “in general” when there are hundreds that resemble the work we did in the system.

Diane seems a bit overly optimistic about what lies ahead—unless we elect a friend in the White House. Not only a Democrat but one who understands and treasures the connection between public education and democracy.  Then just maybe Ravitch’s optimism will be justified!

Diane’s description of the forces on both sides helped put together, for me-and for other colleagues, what we have been living through. Wow! What mighty foes we have been facing. That we have even slowed them down is remarkable.

This fact-filled narrative is a must for those who care about the fragile future of even a very flawed democracy. Each time we privatize an essential public institution we come closer and closer to what some of us most fear. Ravitch’s description of the history and present status of even this old public institution is a much-needed tool in this struggle.

Her voice is a vital force for a vision of democracy that  I share and which is especially vulnerable at this particular moment in our history.

Thanks, Diane .  My only very  serious criticism is that you did not include me along with the many photos included in this book.
P.S.  In February I am headed for the 47th meeting of theNorth Dakota Study Group back in Chicago this year.  What an amazing teacher-led institution!  We have survived.  Vito Perrone would be proud of us.  Then a few weeks later I will be in Bloomington, Indiana doing something!!  Then I will collapse for a while.


One Response

  1. Good review—hooray that you too are going to NDSG. With luck we’ll see you in Chicago! Much love j >

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