Public Schools for Sale?: Diane Ravitch Talks with Bill Moyers about the Privatization of Public Education

Diane Ravitch Education Historian
Diane Ravitch
Education Historian

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University, a historian of education, and author of more than ten books—including The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (2003) and The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010). Ravitch served as Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991 to 1993 during the administration of George H. W. Bush. When she was Assistant Secretary, she led the federal effort to promote the creation of voluntary state and national academic standards. “From 1997 to 2004, she was a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the federal testing program. She was appointed by the Clinton administration’s Secretary of Education Richard Riley in 1997 and reappointed by him in 2001. From 1995 until 2005, she held the Brown Chair in Education Studies at the Brookings Institution and edited Brookings Papers on Education Policy. Before entering government service, she was Adjunct Professor of History and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.”

Ravitch, once a champion of charter schools, supported the No Child Left Behind initiative. After careful investigation, Ravitch changed her mind and became one of our country’s most well-known critics of charter-based education. She believes that “the privatization of public education has to stop.” In late March, Ravitch sat down with Bill Moyers on Moyers & Company to discuss the subject of privatizing of public schools—which has become “big business as bankers, hedge fund managers and private equity investors are entering what they consider to be an ‘emerging market.’” You can view a video of that program, Public Schools for Sale?, below the fold.

 Public Schools for Sale?



Public Schools for Sale? (Moyers & Company)

Charter Schools Gone Wild: Study Finds Widespread Fraud, Mismanagement and Waste (Moyers and Company)

Diane Ravtich: Curriculum Vitae



A Look at Some of the Driving Forces behind the School Reform Movement and the Effort to Privatize Public Education (Res Ipsa Loquitor)

Charter Schools and The Profit Motive (Res Ipsa Loquitor)

From the ABC’s of Privatizing Public Education: A Is for ALEC, I is for iPad…and P Is for Profits (Res Ipsa Loquitor)


166 thoughts on “Public Schools for Sale?: Diane Ravitch Talks with Bill Moyers about the Privatization of Public Education”

  1. Where does the Constitution say that a governmental worker may not be fired for failing in his duty or for leaving his post?

    Where does the Constitution say that governmental workers shall be paid more than the amount required to attract a workforce. Where does it say that a governmental worker shall receive “comparable pay?”

    You strike, you’re fired.

    Don’t let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya.

    Privatization and market forces resolve all conflicts.

    Privatization is what the Constitution calls for.

    Government is limited to security and infrastructure. Justice, Domestic Tranquility, Common Defense and General Welfare. The “blessings of liberty” are for the people, not the government and governmental workers.

    The wretched “poor” can go to the school for the wretched “poor” and get
    scholarships where merited. How much education does a forklift driver need anyway? How much education can a forklift driver assimilate anyway?

    What does the Constitution say Americans must pay to make the whole world absolutely perfect for everybody in it? Does the Constitution mandate that the government provide food, shoes, housing, clothing, shelter, dentistry, transportation, beer, vacations, horses, gasoline, glasses, toilets, recreational vehicles, dental floss, movie tickets, bowling allies…everything we need?

    The only thing government can truly provide is freedom.

    “Give us liberty or give us death.”


  2. My dad who taught math at the college level for 29 years said tenure and unions where the worst thing that happened to teaching. He refused to join the union until he was forced too I believe in the 80’s.

  3. In a victory for students, parents, and GOOD teachers, an LA Superior Court Judge ruled today that the public school tenure system is unconstitutional. The teachers union will spend big bucks appealing this. I have no idea if the appeals will succeed. But, the people, politicians, and now the courts are fed up w/ incompetent teachers being untouchable. So are good teachers, but their hard earned union dues will pay to appeal this. Union fat cats got too much to lose if this stands.

  4. Jim22,

    Traditional public schools have been vilified for years by politicians and the news media…as well as by some people who comment on this blog. I’m just providing some criticism of charter schools. Unless we acknowledge that there will be failures in both TPS and charter schools and look for the reasons why some schools are failing, we’re just trading one kind of school for another. Too many charter schools have lost sight of their original mission.

    Here’s an excerpt from Moyers interview with Diane Ravitch:

    DIANE RAVITCH: No, because I think that what charter schools should be is what they were originally supposed to be. They were originally supposed to be a collaborative, cooperating with public schools, trying to solve problems that public schools couldn’t solve. The original idea was that they would go out and find their dropouts and bring them back.

    They would help the kids who lacked all motivation and bring these lessons back to public schools to help them. What they have become is competitors. And they’re cutthroat competitors. And in fact, because of No Child Left Behind and because of Race to the Top, there is so much emphasis on test scores, that the charters are incentivized to try to get the highest possible scores.

    1. Elaine – according to Ravitch, charter schools were supposed to clean up the mess that TPS had made and return the students to them. Why? The competition has been good for TPS. They have had to revitalize themselves to compete with charter schools. And where they failed to revitalize themselves they have continued to lose students to charter schools. I can name 5 major public schools in the Phoenix area that lose students to charter schools on a regular basis. And since the money is tied directly to the student now, they are losing state money because of these losses.

  5. Elaine,
    I never said that all charter schools are perfect, in fact I would always assume that there will be a certain percentage of failure for any group of anything. You seem to want to vilify charter schools. Why do you fear people having a choice away from the bloated public monopoly of TPS?

  6. Public schools fail the very poor and very rich. The rich have options, the poor have few. Unions want to take away ANY choice. They do adequately w/ the middle of the road kids. Unions have adequate mastered. There’s a reason Clinton and Obama sent their kids to Sidwell.

  7. Paul,

    No one is talking about all the good things that many TPS are/were doing. It seems all we hear in the news is that public schools are failing all of our children…and that we need more charter schools and more money for school vouchers. News on the subject has been extremely one-sided.

  8. Regardless Paul, it’s theft. Any misuse of public funds not for it’s intended purpose is theft. Which has traditionally had a higher duty imposed. Just because you want to segregate the thefts makes them no less theft.

  9. Paul,

    You’re equating this with some thing intangible. Yes, this thread is about charter schools. Someone posted about thievery, you upped it to the ecclastical state. Somehow seeming to feel that justifies it somehow. Thievery from the public education, the private sector or publicly funded schools is still theft. Have you not figured it out yourself or are you asking for that sanctions for a religious theft be treated differently?

    1. Keebler – if you had read the blog you would have discovered that she stole from her high school bookstore.

  10. Paul,

    Members of the news media and politicians have been spouting the mantra that all American schools are failing for years. That’s not a fact. Rather than investigate to find out the reasons why some schools are failing, we decided to “reform” all of our schools–even the ones that were doing an excellent job educating their students. Charter schools are held up by some as being far superior to TPS. Some think that charter schools are a panacea. I think it’s naive to believe that. Research hasn’t borne that out. Someone has to cast a spotlight on the charter schools that are misusing taxpayer dollars…that are failing their students. Charters have to be scrutinized just as the TPS are. Some people don’t like when I do that on this blog.

    1. Elaine – if I saw fairness in your posts I would back you 100%, but all I see is attacks on charter schools with nothing on the good they are doing. And nothing on the problems with TPS. You go after both and I will assist you.

  11. Kellam,

    References to the thesis of the Founders provides clarification of the wording in the documents they produced. Many people pretend not to know things in order to “interpret” words to their subjective benefit. Madison stated the fact that the Constitution was written to stand, not be amended out of existence. There is no point in writing a Constitution if you are going to change the writing.
    That is an absolutely pointless exercise. You might as well write a Constitution that says, “you can do whatever you want.” A form of what Madison feared was the absurdity of the self-defeating 18th Amendment.

    Ben Bernanke said, “the Constitution has evolved.” It has evolved into the Communist Manifesto which Bernanke, the ex-Bank Czar of the dictatorship of the proletariat, is quite pleased with. Ben printed the hell out of federal reserve notes which replace the gold-backed currency that the Constitution mandated the Congress coin. The Constitution “evolved” to progressive taxation and redistribution, in other words, “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

    We’ve amended and legislated America from freedom and capitalism to slavery and collectivism – from a free representative republic to the dictatorship of the proletariat – from government by the makers to government by the takers.

  12. Excuse me, but Paul are you making a distinction in the degree of thievery? Just because a church does it, does that make the theft against the children any less severe?

  13. Jim22,

    This post is about charter schools. Some people claim that all traditional public schools (TPS) are failing and that charter schools are the panacea. Like TPS, there are some charter schools that do well by their students, some that are mediocre, and some that are failing. We cannot assume that all charter schools are better than TPS. Research has shown that they aren’t. Why shouldn’t we investigate to see what is going on with charter schools? TPS are fair game for criticism. Why not charter schools?

    1. Elaine – I would agree with your analysis of charter schools if you spent as much time criticizing traditional public schools. You really are one-sided.

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