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. Paul,
    You posted exactly what I was thinking. Elaine seems to like to cherry pick bad people within the charter school system giving the impression that they are the only ones with issues and public schools don’t waste any money. Which, the word public should be all you need to know about wasting our stolen property.

  2. 2 charter schools struck by thefts
    With limited staffs, some are vulnerable to dishonest workers
    January 01, 2012
    Kim Smith Arizona Daily Star

    When charter school director Bette Jeppson sat down with an accountant last March, she expected to get a few tips on how the school could improve its bookkeeping and finances.

    What she got instead was a litany of illegal transactions by the school’s business manager that drained resources to the point the school was forced to cut back in educational spending, making it one of two Southern Arizona charter schools to come under investigation by the Arizona attorney general for financial improprieties.

    For example, Jeppson didn’t expect to learn business manager Keri Gall had given herself a 29 percent raise and was making 40 percent more than she herself was.

    Or that the manager had used the school’s credit cards to buy a $1,000 boxer, designer clothes, manicures, groceries and items used to remodel her home.

    Jeppson was even more stunned to learn the manager hadn’t been depositing money into teachers’ IRAs and even forced one to pay her own health insurance.

    For five years, Jeppson and her board members believed they couldn’t afford to give their teachers raises, buy materials or go on field trips because of state budget cutbacks.

    Jeppson truly thought The Carden School of Tucson could no longer afford the teacher who taught French to their younger students.

    She and her board believed they had no choice but to ask parents for donations. They thought they had to increase class sizes and charge full-day kindergartners tuition.

    Instead, Jeppson found out that morning Gall had been writing checks to herself and fixing the books, plus misusing the credit cards.

  3. Financial records reveal school board spent public money on home furnishings
    Lori Jane Gliha
    Mar 23, 2012

    PHOENIX – A Valley charter high school used public funds to pay for and fully furnish a residential home in a neighborhood less than a half a mile from the school.

    According to financial documents supplied to the ABC15 Investigators by the Vicki A Romero High School , a Phoenix charter school, the school paid more than $48,681 for upgrades, repairs, and amenities before a salaried school employee moved into the home for several months.

    Maricopa County Assessor’s records show the purchase of the house cost the school $40,000.

    State Department of Education documents show the school, which enrolls between three and four hundred high school students each year, received more than two and a half million dollars in state aid (not including government grants) during fiscal year 2011.

    According to Arizona’s new accountability letter-grade standards, the school currently has a “D” rating, demonstrating a below average level of performance.

  4. Elaine I trust your judgment on matters relating to public education and education in general (and any subject for that matter). You always back up your assertions with links to many sources and I really appreciate that.

  5. Theo,

    I worked as a public school educator for more than thirty years…so I also have my personal experience to speak from. Not all public school teachers have the same disdain for traditional public schools as does Paul. I was fortunate to work with other educators who were consummate professionals.

  6. Ravitch should be viewed as an American treasure. Her most recent book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. Schulte or any other naysayer should arm themselves with the facts before spouting off.

    1. Theo – I have worked in the public system. I have my personal experience to spout off from.

  7. Yesterday King Barrack proclaimed:

    “This week, [Congress has] a chance to help millions of young people,” President Obama said. “I hope they do. … And in the meantime, I’m going to take these actions today on behalf of all these young people here, and every striving young American who shares my belief that this is a place where you can still make it if you try.”

    When the Secretary of Education (Indoctrination and Reeducation), Arne Duncan was asked how much this “program” would cost. His retort: “We don’t know the cost yet.”

    So, Charter schools are bad because they offer choice for parents to provide their child a better education and more opportunity. Miss Ravitch says “The privatization of public education has to stop.”

    Meanwhile in 2010 in was outrageous that private lenders made $500 Million annually from student loan interest.

    Bring on the FFEL!

    Now, that the King has taken control of student loans for the greater good, per the GAO, the Federal Government is raking in $41 Billion in profits.

    Today in the kingdom, once a child graduates HS, the can go to whatever college they can get into, major in whatever they want, (even anthropology or film study,) no matter the cost. In the end, the taxpayers will pick up the tab.

    The King has no idea what the cost will be, nor does he care. Details are for those lucky enough to be a loyal subjects.

    1. Steve – they are more likely to get a job with a degree in film studies than law. 😉

  8. I’m still waiting for Annie to tell me why I’m responsible to pay out for peoples personal choices…..

  9. Karen,

    It seems that the only time liberal progressives are interested in allowing us a choice is when it comes to killing a fetus. Healthcare? No, you must buy what we tell you! School? No, you must go to this one! Light bulb? No, you must buy this one.

  10. Elaine M.
    Thanks for this. I happened across this today…
    Time for Congress to Investigate Bill Gates’ Coup
    Diane Ravitch
    The idea that the richest man in America can purchase and — working closely with the U.S. Department of Education — impose new and untested academic standards on the nation’s public schools is a national scandal. A Congressional investigation is warranted.

    The close involvement of Arne Duncan raises questions about whether the law was broken.

    Thanks to the story in the Washington Post and to diligent bloggers, we now know that one very rich man bought the enthusiastic support of interest groups on the left and right to campaign for the Common Core.

    Who knew that American education was for sale?

    Who knew that federalism could so easily be dismissed as a relic of history?

  11. What I like about charter schools is that their rankings are searchable online. That is how you can make an informed choice.

    Without Charters, I would have to send my son to a low performing school rife with bad teachers who don’t even bother to show up (and thanks to the union cannot be fired and will get a fat pension), and violence.

    There are those who would take away my choice. Since I actually care about my child’s future, I will persevere in supporting school choice. My child’s education depends on it.

    1. Annie – see how many times your state constitution has been amended.

  12. Nick Spinelli

    “Steve, What you have to realize is there are people who do not appreciate this country, are embarrassed to be US citizens, and feel obliged to apologize to the world for our shortcomings. Lord yes, we are far from perfect.”

    Agree completely, one only needs to look to the president as he is the role model in chief for America’s “unjust exceptionalism.” He’s doing a great job at undoing it – faster than anyone else in history. “Fundamental transformation!”

    The only thing I would add to unappreciative, embarrassed and apologetic is ignorance, often times willful.

  13. John,

    I’m well aware that Madison was not a fan of amendments and I agree he didn’t expect many after the Bill of the Rights.

    However, Madison is not the Constitution. He may have authored much of it, but all of those in the Constitutional Congress are credited with its drafting.

    As Byron pointed out above, there is Article V. The Framers didn’t want to make it easy to amend the document, because as Karen pointed out, it is not a “living” document. Still, they did include a mechanism to change it when there was an overwhelming majority of the People wanting or demanding a change.

    Obviously the amendment process isn’t an easy one given the relatively low number since ratification. While many have been positive, 16, 17, and 18 are unconstitutional.

    Regardless, I still credit the Framers with the wisdom to ensure the document could be changed, with a challenging process. If there were no Article V do you honestly believe the Constitution would still be the law of the land?

    Annie thinks I’m crazy because I “worship it” and seems to view it as a document of governing suggestions. (Unless she disagrees with the current leadership, then I’m sure it’s the law of the land.) Imagine Annie’s ire if there were no 19th Amendment.

    As for SCOTOS, they’re the branch of our government that is the weak link and shall be the Republic’s undoing.

    The true weakness and our ultimate failure shall lie squarely on the shoulders of the uniformed electorate, just as Franklin pointed out to Mrs. Powel; “A republic, if you can keep it.”

    1. Steve –

      Obviously the amendment process isn’t an easy one given the relatively low number since ratification. While many have been positive, 16, 17, and 18 are unconstitutional.

      I would posit that since they are amendments to the Constitution they are Constitutional. We can both agree that 18 has be repealed, but that does not make it unconstitutional.

    1. Annie
      Shhhhh…..some folks see Communiststs…everywhere. Teachers Unions, Communists! Progressives, Communists! The Prez, a Communist!

      If you substitute socialist for the word communist, I think you are correct.

  14. The Founders got rid of the king and gave the people freedom.

    A constitutional government cannot compel a free person to pay for other peoples’ purchases.

    A government that is the servant of the people, can’t tell people how to run their businesses.

    These are the fundamental principles the Founders established.

    Wealth will create itself in a free country.

    Charity will take care of those who need in a free country.

  15. The Constitution is a piece of paper. It has words on it. The words and the paper have suffered no change in 225 years. You are a mystic who believes she has license and your statement is incoherent.

    I believe I asked if the Ten Commandments had changed; evolved, eh, Mr. Bernanke? Well, maybe thou shalt steal and kill if thou’s name is O.J. Evolution like that?

    This is interesting and this is exactly what has happened to the SCOTUS. It entertains frivolous arguments.

    Next time I’m arrested I’m gonna tell the judge the state law is dynamic and has evolved.

    Call me stupid.

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