More Breathless Praise for Success Academy; And Why We Should Be “Terrified”

Andrea Gabor

This week both The New Yorker and The Atlantic, among several other publications, ran prominent stories on Success Academy, the controversial New York City charter-school network.

In particular, Elizabeth Green’s piece about Success Academy and its founder, Eva Moskowitz, aims a nuclear warhead at public schools. Writes Green: “I am more than a little terrified by the conclusion I’ve reached: Moskowitz has created the most impressive education system I’ve ever seen.”

(Similarly, Jonathan Chait at New York Magazine breathlessly exclaimed: Success Academy “has done something no education-policy analyst considered remotely possible: Its schools have closed the achievement gap.”)

It is we—that is American citizens—who should be terrified because Success Academy is entirely in-sync with the Trump era. It is unapologetically anti-democratic, anti-union, segregated and relentlessly test-driven. And, it should be noted, the CMO has not yet graduated a single high school student.

At a time when we are facing an…

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John Merrow: When “Too Good to Be True” Is Not True

Diane Ravitch's blog

John Merrow reviews the miraculous but not true story of the high school in Washington, D.C., that increased its graduation rate from 57% to 100% in one year. And every one of these graduates were accepted into college! A touching story. But a false story. Made even worse by the fact that it was reported by NPR, which is a usually reliable and trustworthy source for news.

Merrow notes that in the original report, 26 of the graduating class of nearly 200 students had not yet earned enough credits to graduate. How, then, could the school have a graduation rate of 100% and a college acceptance rate of 100%?

A little digging, he said, would have revealed the fact that a local D.C. community college accepts all students who have a high school diploma, a GED, or the equivalent, so gaining college acceptance is not a high bar to cross.

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Understanding the Magic that is BASIS Scottsdale, “The [Um,] Best Public High School in America.”


On December 06, 2017, Business Insider produced an article featuring BASIS Scottsdale (Arizona) charter school, “the best public high school in America,” as declared by US News and World Report, where BASIS charter schools frequently top the rankings.

Business Insider is generous enough to extend BASIS “success” as apparently meaning charter schools are better than traditional public schools, period:

Charter schools are public schools that are privately run. Their supporters see them as providing a leg up for underserved students who lack access to a personalized education, while critics say they snatch away limited resources from other public schools.

Polarizing as they may be, charter schools have a track record of success.

Business Insider continues as follows:

Business Insider spent the day at Basis Scottsdale to see what makes it the best in the nation.

I thought I’d see if I might find some concise info on…

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Paul Krugman: The Republican War on Children

Diane Ravitch's blog

Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman asks a simple question:

“Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?

“You might think that this question is silly, hypothetical and has an obvious answer. But it’s not at all hypothetical, and the answer apparently isn’t obvious. For it’s a literal description of the choice Republicans in Congress seem to be making as you read this.

“The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, is basically a piece of Medicaid targeted on young Americans. It was introduced in 1997, with bipartisan support. Last year it covered 8.9 million kids. But its funding expired more than two months ago. Republicans keep saying they’ll restore the money, but they keep finding reasons not to do it…

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Ted Cruz Wants Vouchers for Every Student in D.C.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The most recent federal evaluation of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program found that students who used the voucher experienced a decline in their test scores. Betsy DeVos was undisturbed by the finding because, she said, when choice is fully expanded, all sectors will get the same results. I suppose that means that choice is the goal of choice, not better education. Previous evaluations said that even though vouchers had no impact on test scores, the graduation rate of voucher students was higher, but those evaluations downplayed or hid the high attrition rate from the voucher schools, which falsely inflated the graduation rate.

Ted Cruz and Mark Meadows, a Republican from North Carolina, want to extend vouchers to every student in the District of Columbia. They claim that vouchers (i.e., the destruction of public education) is “the civil rights issue of our time.” You can always count on rightwing Republicans like…

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Two Theories Why Facebook Keeps Blocking Me When I Write About School Privatization

I’m reblogging so it get posted on my Facebook



Facebook blocked me.


What did I do?

Did I post Russian-sponsored propaganda?


Did I post Nazi or racist memes?


Did I post fraudulent or debunked accounts of factual events?


So what did I do?

I had an opinion.

I took that opinion and wrote about it. I backed it up with facts, analogies, literary references and examples from my own experience as a classroom teacher in public school.

I took all that, wrote it up in a blog called “The False Paradise of School Privatization,” and posted it on Facebook.

It was the same kind of thing I do several times a week.

Write a blog. Post it on various Facebook pages and on Twitter.

And wait to see if anyone reads it.

But this time – BOOM!

I hadn’t even posted it to a handful of pages before…

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Silicon Valley Takes Over Classrooms: Yes and No (Part 2)

Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Natasha Singer’s series of New York Times articles in the past six months showed persuasively that top Silicon Valley companies have increased student and teacher access to digital devices and software across the nation. But Singer also claims that expanded access has led to these high-tech tools dominating classroom lessons. Google, et. al. tools shape what teachers do daily. She says:

Through their philanthropy, they are influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental  approaches to learning.

Yes, I have observed in Silicon Valley and elsewhere how these high-tech Goliaths have helped increase student access to digital tools across the nation. But I have not observed their influence on “the subjects that schools teach” and, most important, on “fundamental approaches to learning.” To that I say “no.”

Conflating access with use is a common error that journalists, researchers, and promoters of digital tools…

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John Kuhn Takes 2 Minutes to Identify the Real Culprit Behind Inequity in Funding Schools: MUST WATCH!

Diane Ravitch's blog

Please watch this two-minute video of John Kuhn, Texas Superintendent, who tells the story of two adjacent school districts, one rich, one poor. He explains with eloquence and passion why schools should be equitably funded and how unjust it is to fund schools differently and expect to get the same results.

This video is part of a series of short videos produced by Michael Elliott for the Network for Public Education.

Please watch it, tweet it, share it on your Facebook page, and wherever else you reach your friends and acquaintances. Send it to everyone you know.

Kuhn is powerful and eloquent on behalf of children, communities, public schools, justice, and equity.

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Senate tax bill offers school choice — to rich families who already have it

One of the final amendments to the Senate tax bill was the Student Opportunity Amendment introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Along with a similar provision in the House tax bill, the Student Opportunity Amendment could become the first law passed by this Congress to subsidize students attending private K-12 schools. But exactly whom this benefits remains in doubt.

School choice advocates often use the language of equity, arguing that private school choice programs merely offer low-income families the options that wealthier families take for granted. Cruz played this equity card in promoting the Student Opportunity Amendment, claiming that it would “help working class and middle-income families” and ensure “that each child receives an education that meets their individual needs, instead of being … limited to their zip code.”

Full Article

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Huffington Post Analyzed Every Voucher School in America and Concluded They Are Free to Teach Lies and Hate

Diane Ravitch's blog

Rebecca Klein, education editor of Huffington Post, reports here on a HuffPost analysis of the nation’s voucher-supported private and religious schools.

Many of these voucher schools teach creationism, sexism, racism, and homophobia. They are supported by your tax dollars.

These are the schools that Betsy DeVos wants to send more tax dollars to. Unlike public schools, which are expected to accept all children and to teach tolerance and democratic values, voucher schools teach whatever their religious sponsors want. And all too often, their teachings are hateful toward minorities.

President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have openly championed such programs and have encouraged states to embrace school choice, arguing that voucher programs give parents an alternative to low-performing public schools. Currently 14 states and the District of Columbia have voucher programs, and 17 have tax credit programs. DeVos has made it a top priority to push a federal school…

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