School Vouchers and Runaway EdTech Pave the Way for the Destruction of the Very Concept of School



School is where you learn to learn.

A teacher with an advanced degree and decades of experience devotes her time to figuring out what helps you comprehend the world around you.

And, if she’s good, she imparts that lesson to you as well.

Imagine if we took that away.

Imagine a world where there are no schools – just free range children plopped in front of a computer or an iPad and told to go learn something.

No schools, no teachers, just gangs of students walking the streets, stopping along the way to thumb messages to each other on social media, play a video game or take an on-line test.

That’s the world many EdTech entrepreneurs are trying to build.

And school vouchers are helping them do it.

Take Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) and other market based privatization schemes.

Normally, the federal, state and local government collect taxes…

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FairTest: Testing News of the Week

Diane Ravitch's blog

The growing impact of the assessment reform movement is clear in this week’s clips, many of which reflect a critical perspective on test overuse and misuse. This fall’s elections will play a major role in determining whether new public officials will roll back standardized exam overkill or if the same old officials will continue discredited test-and-punish policies.

Arizona Why Is “D” Rated School Shamed Instead of Helped

Florida Test Score Fixation Causes Concerns for Parents
Florida Late Test Score Reports Delay Grade Promotion Decisions Before School Ends

Georgia Are Test Scores Fair Way to Judge Charters . . . or Any Schools?
Georgia Poverty, Other Social Factors Best Ways to Predict Test Scores

Illinois Test Scores Sunk After Chicago Closed 50 Public Schools

Indiana Schools May Get Two Different Grades This Year

Massachusetts Legislators Cut Exam Funding to Challenge Testing Status Quo

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Oklahoma: What It is Like to Teach in an Underfunded School

Diane Ravitch's blog

Melissa Smith is a teacher at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City and a member of the AFT. She writes here about the effect of dramatic budget cuts on her school.

Unless you are in a school every day, you might not see the results of underfunding education. That is because we open our doors no matter what, and my colleagues and I will do everything we can to make sure our students get the education they deserve. But just because the consequences are invisible doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. Isn’t that the definition of privilege? Thinking something isn’t a problem simply because it might not be a problem for you?

You have probably heard about the recent teacher walkout in Oklahoma. While some of that was about teacher salaries, it was more about the conditions in our schools – conditions that resulted from years of underfunding education.

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Fine Article Takes You Inside the Oklahoma Teachers’ Walkout and Inside Red-State, Anti-Tax Politics


Watching teachers walk out this spring has startled America in these discouraging times, but nowhere was it as moving as in Oklahoma. The teachers walked out, and, grateful that teachers had figured out a way to expose desperate conditions in the schools, school superintendents and school boards—the management—shut down school for two weeks and walked with their teachers in gratitude. At the statehouse itself the protestors walked into a brick wall.  More than just demonstrating what is missing from their classrooms, they showed what decent concern for our children would require of us as citizens and what—across too many of our states—one-party, anti-tax state legislators and governors are quite satisfied to deny.

Rivka Galchen profiles the Oklahoma walkout in this week’s New Yorker magazine. Galchen, who accompanied and learned to know many teachers, reflects on her own experience of the strike and on the lives of teachers she came to…

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New Federal Study: DC Voucher Students Lose Ground in Math

Diane Ravitch's blog

A new federal evaluation of the DC voucher program finds that students who used vouchers lost ground in math.

Watch as school choice advocates change the goal posts. Test scores don’t matter.

In the photo, Betsy DeVos appears delighted.

Here is the study:

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Texas: The Best Social-Emotional Learning, at No Cost

Diane Ravitch's blog

Early news reports indicate that the Trump-DeVos Commission on School Safety is leaning towards “social-emotional” learning as the best antidote to gun violence, combined with a heavy emphasis on religious training in religious schools. We will see.

Meanwhile, here is a 20-Second video from North Texas that demonstrates excellent social-emotional learning at no cost. Student-centered, interactive, constructive, human to human.

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Ohio: Kasich Blocks Effort to Kill or Revise Stupid A-F School Grades

Stupid is as Stupid does.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Some sensible Ohio legislators recognize that the A-F letter grades for schools (invented by Jeb Bush to accelerate privatization) measures nothing more than the wealth or poverty of the district. They would like to revise the simplistic letter grade to a “data dashboard,” reflecting the manic love of all things data.

But John Kasich stands in the way. While pretending to be a moderate Republican for the National media, he is still a right winger at heart.

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Ohio: Andrew Brenner, Listen to the People

Diane Ravitch's blog

Andrew Brenner is chairman of the House Education Committee in Ohio. He has a knack for making provocative and unfair statements. A few years ago, he said that public schools were “socialism.” He also regularly blocks people on Twitter if they disagree with his extremism. His critics have started their own Facebook page.

Denis Smith has written a genial open letter to Andrew Brenner. He thinks Andrew should revere the First Amendment even more than the Second Amendment, because it comes first.

He should listen to his constituents. He might learn that he is out of synch with their views.

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Russian-Produced School Shooter Video Game Removed from Online Store


There’s so much in the title of this post that is shocking.

Russian-based company, Revived Games, developed a school-shooter video game called “Active Shooter,” which, according to, “lets players take on the role of a school shooter.”

The online seller of “Active Shooter,” a developer called Valve, which operates the online platform, Steam, has revoked the game, no doubt because of public outcry. The school shooter game was supposed to be released June 6th. Now it is nixed.

The fact that Valve agreed to make the game available in the first place shows how far online gaming will go to make a buck. However, based on its statement below, Valve will be taking the action further by “addressing its content policies soon.”

As notes, Buzzfeed included the following abhorrent description of the game:


My first awareness of the school shooting game involved seeing this petition on…

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North Carolina: General Assembly Passes Budget to Hurt Public Schools and Enrich Charters


Diane Ravitch's blog

Remember that thousands of teachers from across North Carolina took a personal day to assemble at the State Capitol on May 16 to protest the underfunding of public education?

Maybe you forgot, but you are not alone if you did. The North Carolina General Assembly passed a budget without hearings that is a dagger in the heart of public schools.

It contains plenty of goodies for charter schools and cybercharters.

But it expresses contempt for public schools and their teachers. The extremists now in charge of the General Assembly won’t be content until they have privatized every school in the state.

NBCT teacher Stuart Egan explains the budget here.

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