Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at NYU. Her most recent book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. (December 2017)

Follow Diane Ravitch on Twitter: @DianeRavitch.


Big Money Rules

Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

by Nancy MacLean

The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time

by Gordon Lafer
Two recent books—Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America and Gordon Lafer’s The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time—seek to explain several puzzling aspects of American politics today. Why do people of modest means who depend on government-funded health care and Social Security or other supplements to their income continue to vote for candidates who promise to privatize or get rid of those very programs? Why do people who are poor vote for politicians who promise to cut corporate taxes?

When Public Goes Private, as Trump Wants: What Happens?

Education and the Commercial Mindset

by Samuel E. Abrams

School Choice: The End of Public Education?

by Mercedes K. Schneider
At present, proponents of school choice have the upper hand because they are backed by some of the nation’s richest people, whose campaign donations give them an outsize voice in shaping public policy. The issue that the American public must resolve in local and state as well as national elections is whether voters will preserve and protect the public school system, or allow it to be raided and controlled by the one percent and financial elites.

Solving the Mystery of the Schools

Cory Booker, then mayor of Newark, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg with eleventh-grade math students at the KIPP Newark Collegiate Academy, a charter school, September 2010

The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?

by Dale Russakoff

Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph

by Kristina Rizga
In recent years, American public education has been swamped by bad ideas and policies. Our national leaders, most of whom were educated at elite universities and should know better, have turned our most important domestic duty into a quest for higher scores on standardized tests.


How Trump Politicized Schools Reopening, Regardless of Safety

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos attending President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force daily briefing, Washington, D.C., March 27, 2020

One of the most difficult issues of the pandemic is when and how schools should reopen. Among the ironies of the situation is that parents who are sick of distance learning are now willing to bear it as long as necessary to keep their children safe. Second, Betsy DeVos—an evangelist for distance learning who praised it at her confirmation hearings in 2017—is now demanding a return to brick-and-mortar schools. Third, the Trump administration, which scorned public schools, now sees them as essential for the lives of children, as well as the economy. And the situation is made even more challenging because the Trump administration has politicized decision-making and even the CDC itself.

The Demolition of American Education

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos at the White House, April 26, 2017

Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos’s proposed budget for the US Department of Education is a boon for privatization and a disaster for public schools and low-income college students. They want to cut federal spending on education by 13.6 percent. Some programs would be eliminated completely; others would face deep reductions. They want to cut $10.6 billion from existing programs and divert $1.4 billion to charter schools and to vouchers for private and religious schools. This budget reflects Trump and DeVos’s deep hostility to public education and their desire to shrink the Department of Education, with the ultimate goal of getting rid of it entirely.

The Lost Purpose of School Reform

One-room schoolhouse near Selma, Alabama, 1965

Fifty years ago, Congress passed a federal education law to help poor children get a good public education. As the House and the Senate now debate a reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, it is crucial to understand the law’s origins and how it has evolved over time.

Making Schools Poor

A first-grade class of thirty children at the Willow Glen Elementary School in San Jose, California, where budget cuts have led to larger class sizes, January 24, 2013

Last week’s court ruling against job protections for California school teachers has distracted us from the genuine inequalities that harm minority children. It does not address the dire overcrowding of classes or the lack of resources for basic needs, including libraries, counselors, after-school programs, and nurses. Nor does it address segregation or poverty— root causes of poor academic performance.