PRE REVIEW REVIEW OF THE BOOK BURNERS' SCREAMS.. Duncan, Cunningham, Williams and other Propagandists of the Plutocracy unleash their impotent fury against Diane Ravitch's 'Reign of Error' -- without even waiting until the book is published!

The foreplay from the propagandists of corporate "school reform" was in play weeks before the official publication date. Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error" will be published on September 17, 2013, a day after I write this essay. But as we reported at, the jackels were howling and the book burners lighting up weeks before. Of course, the U.S. Secretary of Education, Chicago's Arne Duncan, didn't like the book, although, like most books, he hasn't read it.

Without a doubt some of the most powerful and wealthy people in the USA would like to conflagrate Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error." Like Arne Duncan, Peter Cunningham, and Joe Williams, they won't bother to read it, but they certainly hope it's dry for burning. Sadly Ray Bradbury of Waukegan is no longer with us to do a full appreciation of the current impotent rage against one of the most potent critics of the nonsense that's been foisted on America through the professorial, preachatorial, and punditotorial proponents of corporate "school reform." If predictions hold true, however, by the holiday giving season this December, half the real public school teachers will have read "Reign of Error", will return to "The Death and Life of the Great American School System," and then share extra copies with children during DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) and other free voluntary reading opportunities.Simultaneously, Duncan's chief propagandist and Svengali, now in the lobbying sector, had supposedly maybe sort of read Reign of Error and HATED IT. Peter Cunningham has already challenged "Reign of Error," too.

The so-called "Democrats for Education Reform" (DFER) -- one of the dozens of astroturf outfits promoting corporate "school reform" -- provided their readers and members with a kind of pre-packaged kits of talking points and Op Eds ready to roll out, city by city and market by market, as soon as "Reign of Error" his the bookstores, Kindles, and other outlets. With any luck we'll soon hear from Michelle Rhee, Wendy Kopp, Eli Broad (or one of his many hirelings), Bill Gates, and one of the Waltons about how mean this all is. And if they don't emerge from their shadows in the Billionaire Boys Club, they've hired enough professors and pundits for the hatchet jobs to follow. The URL for our story on the DFER nonsense is:§ion=Article.

Obviously, they were worried about something. As I read their screeds (often by guys like Arne Duncan who admitted they hadn't even read the book, let alone Diane's other writings) it became clear that corporate reform, one year after the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, was not feeling as smug, comfortable, and powerful as they had two years ago. Then they were taking busloads of poor black parents to see "Waiting for Superman" and doing showings for delegates to the national conventions of both political parties. They were also taking bows and seemed to believe that "Waiting for Superman" was about to receive on Oscar or two, maybe having fantasies of Davis Guggenheim walking down the red carpet arm in arm with Michelle Rhee, while impotent teachers fumes and help up pictures of Randi Weingarten demanding a retraction.

Guggenheim didn't realize that "Waiting for Superman" might have felt good despite the facts of Rhee's growing record of mendacity and corruption and the infamous facts about Geoffrey Canada and the often very young victims of his lucrative scam, the "Harlem Children's Zone."

One of the spiritual ancestors of the U.S. Department of Education's "Race To The Top" department speaks (above) to the educators of Germany 65 years ago. As readers are now learning in the USA, the eugenics movement and "eugenics science" were promoted in the United States behind the lynchings of the Ku Klux Klan and the other master race theories of America's Robber Barons long before Adolph Hitler adopted some of them (and praised them) in "Mein Kampf." After a brief interlude, these same theories made a comeback in the USA following the publication of "A Nation at Risk" and the plans and programs leading up to "Race To The Top."But the corporate reformers aren't going to go away without a fight. Had they the absolute power they crave in their "Chief Executive Officer" fantasies, they would probably organize book burnings, like their 20th century eugenicist predecessors. Their impotent fury and purple-faced bullying may attain the heights of the American punditocracy, the pages of The New Republic and the other major monthly magazines that have been shamelessly promoting the lies of corporate reform, or the weeklies like TIME that have been equally shameless in their propaganda for the plutocrats from their cover of Michelle Rhee with her broom to their recent Rahm Emanuel tribute, put out before Chicago's rookie mayor had finished even two years at the challenging helm of America's third largest city.

Diane Ravitch has them wishing for the book-burning powers of their philosophical predecessors. And "Reign of Error" is likely to join her freedom manifesto, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System", on the shelves of a million public school teachers and parents, and hopefully on the tables in another million classrooms where students can do sustained silent reading with the facts of what they are enduring.

We'll see.

Even without a You Tube video or Cliffs Notes, Diane Ravitch's powerful "Death and Life of the Great American School System" helped turn the tide in the national debate about so-called "school reform" by the year following its publication. The rage against Ravitch and the book from the plutocracy increased as sales of the books and hits to Ravitch's website increased month after month.I promised Substance staff and my colleagues at the Chicago Teachers Union that I was not going to review the new Ravtich book until everyone could get a copy, either at their local public library (a challenge in Chicago since Rahm attacked the public libraries almost as viciously as he attacked the public schools since arriving here after his stint as Barack Obama's pint-sized pirana) of by purchase.

So as we await the publication date of the book, it's time to review the "reviewers" who are trying to burn Ravitch's book with words, since they can't burn the book like their ideological ancestors did -- or burn the author at one of those stakes they would have kept handy in an earlier day of U.S. history.

I think we are going to have huge turnouts for every book event Diane can do, and only hope she gets enough rest...

For some reason, covering these (predictable and foreshadowed) attacks on Diane (my early favorite was the DFER attack where they compared Diane to Richard Nixon with that silly "Enemies List" graphic) and her Reign of Error has me going back to the latest revelations about previous hypocrites and mendacities. Think about how Hollywood allowed itself to be censored by Hitler during the 1930s. Or the fact that it was American "social scientists" who devoted a century from their professorial perches preaching eugenics. These guys really are in that tradition, and we should say so and demonstrate their historical roots.

The historical scholarship that's slowly coming out about a lot of U.S. history (and the manipulations of the plutocrats at various points in history) has been welcome. Diane just adds a lot of punch to the facts.

Diane's concise precision (and way with words; the plutocrats are still not recovered from "The Billionaire Boys Club") has them going crazy. They may not realize it, but they are only going to increase sales of Reign of Error. I have to admit, this came as a surprise to me.

When "The Death and Life..." came out in Chicago, we were barely organized as CORE and not yet helping to lead the Chicago Teachers Union. It wasn't until a year later that the Chicago Teachers Union leadership could host a standing room only event at the University of Illinois Forum (on St. Patrick's Day no less) for Diane to speak. Her energy before the event began, signing maybe a hundred books (I have pictures of the line; I reported it all) convinced me that she still had the energy to do the job the book was demanding of her. Since we've seen that's the case again with "Reign of Error."

As soon as I got the "The Death and Life", I read it. I read it in the early hours of the morning during a campus visit with our eldest son at Berkeley, while Sharon, Sam and Josh slept. Then I tried to write a quickie review which basically said READ THIS BOOK NOW. I was very happy, and in some ways stunned.

We had been part of that history. A Nazi book burning in 1933 or 1934. Long before their aggressions, the Nazis destroyed the independent unions of Germany and put the labor leaders and socialists into their first concentration camps (Dachau was for dissidents; the "Final Solution" and Auschwitz didn't arrive until eight years later). The suppression of free speech and thought were there from the beginning, with the replacement by Nazi propaganda, often supported by German "liberals" who would later regret it, as "Judgment at Nuremburg" showed.Jerry Bracey had been one of the expert witnesses at my administrative "trial" when Paul Vallas was firing me from my 28 year teaching job. For years, we had talked about how Bracey had to fend off many of those on the other side, some of whom used the same lies and slanders against him. Even as Bracey was being honored by the AERA, the Broad Foundation was buying Phi Delta Kappan and slowly strangling Bracey's publication. First they refused to continue publishing the "Rotten Apples" (which we picked up proudly) and then they basically told Jerry he'd be happier on line and no longer in print. A little research and we could see that the PDK had been bought. I haven't read much of it since, and then only when someone insists... Jerry continued to debate those who were pushing corporate "school reform." Among the best informed was Diane Ravitch, he mentioned more than once. (I don't remember if she ever got a rotten apple, because she was rarely as corrupt as some of those touting the "reform" talking points -- and this was in the early days of Michelle Rhee, Arlene Ackerman and dozens of others who made a lot of money...

When "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" came out, I read it, then re-read it, then re-read Bracey's "The War Against America's Public Schools" and Susan Ohanian's "Why is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?" As we all know, "The Death and Life..." had some ancestors. But "The Death and Life..." blew the walls down, and the ruling class has never been the same in its smugness. Despite "Waiting for Superman," "Won't Back Down" and a thousand points of darkness in that sludge of corporate propaganda, our side had a succinct textbook from which to draw not only information, but strength.

But "Waiting for Superman" may mark the high point of the mindless ruling class propaganda on behalf of corporate school reform.

As Diane's blog grew and became even more fun, it was easy to send new people to a place where they could get the information -- and more -- every morning. Then, after more than a year's careful planning, Karen Lewis and the new leadership of the CTU (elected a few months after the publication of "The Death and Life..") led the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 against Rahm Emanuel and the Broad Foundation's "A List" (Jean-Claude Brizard, then Barbara Byrd Bennett). Suddenly here in Chicago alone we had tens of thousands of teachers, parents and students wanting to get all the information quickly, and in that one book they could get started merging their experiences with the history and facts.

Peter Cunningham. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.It's no wonder the creeps are panicking. And no wonder they are trying every sleazy attack and snide cheap shot they can ooze out of their very expensive ranks.

One of those propagandists, Peter Cunningham, when he was here in Chicago, was paid $10,000 a month to be Arne Duncan's "strategic planner." Peter only did that work as a "consultant" here because he wanted to gather other jobs as well...

But that's why I can't not think about the guys (and gals, like Leni) back in the 1930s who were doing the same sludgework of the eugenicists, racists, and world class anti-Semites. These men and women are in a long and ignoble tradition, and its going to be fun as they emerge watching us play "whack a mole" with each of them. The creativity we'll see as our side reads and shares "Reign of Error" will go far beyond "Billionaire Boys Club" and "Toxic Troll" (that wonderful recent hit against Michelle Rhee).

But it will emerge over time, not all at once.

The burdens carried by the "99 percent" today are enough to weary the strongest. In Chicago, it's been hot, the "Longer School Day" doesn't have enough of anything, and at BOSS SCHOOL principals and Network Chiefs are being tutored in subverting the rights of teachers and children. So many teachers, facing all the lies and programs of the Broad Foundation bureaucrats now lined up across the "top ranks" of CPS, will first say, "Do I have the time?" But I suspect that many will be energized by the book, and get a boost that couldn't come from a case of Red Bull. We'll see. Sadly, many of our poor and working class brothers and sisters do not have the time to read everything -- or even the money to afford the books. And we have to remember that the attack is not just against the public schools that serve the poor and working people. As I write this (ten in the morning Chicago time) half Chicago's public libraries are still closed.

That's one of the other "reforms" by the man another forthcoming book is calling "Mayor One Percent," Chicago's own Rahm Emanuel. When he claimed that "austerity" was forcing him to cut back hours in the city's once proud public libraries, he managed to force the resignation of one of the top women in that field (Mary Dempsey, who had been Chicago library chief for more than a decade). She was not the first woman who couldn't take Rahm's odious male chauvinism and macho posturing, nor did she receive the most dramatic. (The prize for that still goes to Rahm's "Fuck You Lewis" to CTU president Karen Lewis...). We can be sure that the same plutocratic propagandists who have been touting Rahm (Time, The Atlantic, The New York Times, etc., etc., etc.,..) will all be weighing in against Diane Ravitch and "Reign of Error". So with tomorrow as the publication date, let's have even more fun with this one.


Author shows how ridiculous arguments are against school reform, By Kyle Smith, September 14, 2013 | 5:51pm

Public schools? They’re fine. Teachers who can’t be fired? No problem at all.

Our international competitiveness in education? Nothing to worry about.

Pundit Kyle Smith of The New York Post didn't report in his article hatchet jobbing Diane Ravitch whether Rupert Murdoch gives him a performance bonus for such performances. Too many kids dropping out of high school? It’s a myth. And anyway, some kids are just poor, hence doomed, so what are schools supposed to do about that?

Get ready for the world's longest excuse note: Diane Ravitch's new book "Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Public Schools." Only this note is from the teachers' unions (who have paid Ravitch for her flackery) to you.

The dog ate your child's education.

Ravitch's book purports to be a point-by-point destruction of the arguments for school reform, (a word she cloaks in scare quotes), choice and competition. She thinks that the local monopoly stranglehold of the average union-run public school is somehow a good thing and that parental choice and competition are bad.

The book veers between argument and rant. Ravitch seems scarcely able to stop sputtering out meaningless and irrelevant buzzwords that she hopes will inspire ill will towards school choice. Again and again -- hundreds of times -- she tosses out words meant to stir up irrational hatred. I refer to words like "privatization" (which no one is proposing), "entrepreneurs," "corporations," "profits" and (most hilariously) "creationism," which she claims is one of the hidden agendas of school reformists.

Yet school reform and charter schools (which are generally just public schools freed from union red tape) are among the few political solutions floating around that are genuinely bipartisan.

A chapter on tenure is particularly instructive about Ravitch's style. She says "tenure means due process. There is no ironclad tenure for teachers."

There isn't?

Before the recent, mild tenure reforms in New York City, 97 percent of teachers were granted tenure in 2007. In the three years up to 2010, only 88 teachers out of about 80,000 city teachers were fired for any reason.

That's one-tenth of 1 percent. Sounds fairly ironclad to me, but Ravitch simply pretends such figures don’t exist. What other profession is so protective of poor performers?

Getting rid of tenure is, to Ravitch, a secret plot hatched by school Savonarolas who want to burn all the interesting books.

If teachers don't have tenure, writes Ravitch, "They will think twice before assigning a novel that any parent might find offensive, such as Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn or Aldous Huxley's Brave New World or the Harry Potter books or a novel by John Steinbeck.”

So Mike Bloomberg, who has said his goal is to end teacher tenure, is a sort of Manchurian Candidate secretly directed by fundamentalist who think Harry Potter is teaching our kids to be Satanists?

Ravitch told The New Yorker that without tenure, "There will be huge parts of this country where evolution will never again be taught."


Charter-school backers like Bloomberg, Bill Gates, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Education Secretary Arne Duncan, the guy who directed "An Inconvenient Truth" ” they're all closet creationists using school choice as a Trojan Horse to sneak their evangelical Christian views inside the castle walls.

Other Ravitch critics espouse their views in the Bible Belt newsletter The New Republic (“Ravitch’s use of evidence to support her new positions is often dubious, selective, and inconsistent”) or the fundamentalist outpost Time magazine (“Aside from improving curriculum, she does not have a reform agenda or alternatives of her own”).

Ravitch thinks it’s just fine that the teaching profession pays according to seniority and irrelevant outside credentials rather than skill. So what if studies show that whether your teacher has a master’s degree has nothing to do with whether she can teach?

“This is one of those instances where the findings of economists do not concur with the wisdom of teachers,” she writes.

So if a scientific study conflicts with teacher “wisdom,” we should simply toss out the former and defer to the latter. Why bother doing any educational studies whatsoever if that’s the case? Instead we could just take a poll of “teacher wisdom” made up of questions like, “Would you rather have to prove your worth like virtually every other worker in America, or would you prefer to have guaranteed employment for life?”

Public schools are supposed to serve the interests of students and their families, not teachers.

Here’s a reform agenda: Stanford economist Eric Hanushek has calculated that if we could raise our overall education standard to that of Canada (a pretty high bar — Canada ranks just below Massachusetts, which is the No. 1 US state in education performance), that one factor would increase the pay of US workers by 20 percent (in inflation-adjusted dollars) over the next 80 years.

That windfall would mean a lot less pressure on liberal social programs, or on defense cuts, or on the upward trajectory of tax rates, or however you want to envision it.

See the bipartisan appeal here?

Hanushek has further shown that if we replaced the bottom 5 percent to 8 percent of teachers with merely average ones — precisely the kind of reform teachers unions hate and make impossible via tenure regulations — we could catch up to Canada in the rankings charts.

If there are 35 teachers in a school, that means telling two or three of them to find another line of work.

Ravitch questions the worth of testing teachers, but is there a principal in this country who couldn’t identify a couple of teachers she’d gladly unload if it weren’t for tenure?

At times, Ravitch, a former neoconservative who used to say the exact opposite of everything she says now (the amusing Twitter feed “Not Diane Ravitch” is a fount of quotations from her earlier, sensible self) sounds like a hair-shirt wearing zealot who has to scourge herself to punish any dissent from teachers’ union dogma.

Even retroactively.

“Was I weak? Yes,” she told The New Yorker about her choice to send her kids to private schools. Sure, she it would have been a much stronger move to sacrifice her sons’ education for the sake of making a political point.

Today she delivers tub-thumping anti-reform speeches to the assembled teachers’ union faithful. At one union rally in Washington, she was introduced with these words: “Like Britney and Cher and Gaga, in the education world, all you need to say is ‘Diane.’ ”

Ravitch certainly can be gaga.

New Yorker writer David Denby said that when he left her apartment after an interview, she sent him 16 emails in the 45 minutes it took him to get home.

After the Newtown Massacre, she wrote, in a bizarre nonsequitur, “Let us hope [Connecticut] Governor Malloy learned something these past few days about the role of public schools in their communities. Newtown does not need a charter school. What it needs now is healing. Not competition, not division, but a community coming together to help one another. Together. Not competing.”

The New Republic suggested a possible motive for her political conversion from conservatism to her current belief that even President Obama is a tool of the nefarious “corporate reformers.”

She began publicly attacking then-New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein (currently the CEO of Amplify, which like The Post is a News Corp. company) shortly after her girlfriend Mary Butz, a longtime school principal, failed to get a job heading up a New York City principals-training program.

According to The New Republic, Ravitch “aggressively lobbied Klein to hire Butz to lead the new program — and reacted with anger when he didn’t.” (Ravitch denied this, telling TNR that she merely “urged Klein to call upon Butz for her deep knowledge and experience,” the magazine stated).

After that, Ravitch would then “obsessively turn every conversation toward her grievances with Klein” as he cleared the way for hundreds of charter schools, a school reformer told the magazine.

Her grievance-laden book simply ignores facts that teachers unions would prefer you not to know.

Though there is nothing magical about charter schools that guarantees their success, the good ones have achieved such spectacular results that it would be gross educational malpractice to ignore them.

A Stanford study of New York City charter schools found that 50 percent of them outperformed the union-run public schools, as against 16 percent that did worse.

Twenty-two of the top 25 public schools in the state are now city schools (which boasted zero of the top 25 before Mayor Bloomberg jump-started the charter movement). Of those 22, 18 are schools of choice (such as charters and magnet schools) instead of geographically zoned ones. In 2002, the city had 9 percent of the state’s top-ranked schools and 62 percent of the lowest-ranked. Those numbers are now up to 22 percent on the high end and down to 30 percent on the low end.

What would happen to all those charter students if Ravitch destroyed the charter movement in the name of “community,” i.e. local monopolies?

Answer: More fragmentation of the community. More separation of rich and poor, white and black.

We already have “privatized” education in a sense: Your child’s education is simply part of the price of your home, which costs more in a good school district than it would in a neighboring one where the school is a dropout factory. Charters are severing that link between the value of your home and the value of your kid’s education.

Poor kids may never achieve at the level of rich kids, but poverty is no excuse for defending the status quo of terrible schools in the least affluent neighborhoods. Rich people already have school choice 'they can move to another neighborhood' and the indigent ought to have more options than the citizens of some thug dictatorship where there's only one name on the ballot.

'Class Warfare' author and reformist Steven Brill has compared Ravitch to the amoral tobacco lobbyist in 'Thank You For Smoking.'

The 2004 publication of "Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools" (Kathy Emery and Susan Ohanian) should have marked a major turning point in the discussion of the hoaxes being pushed by corporate school reform and those Ohanian calls the "Standardistos." But like so many other critiques of the nonsense being peddled by the plutocracy in the name of "reform," the book, like its well reasoned predecessors going all the way back to the seminal writings of David Berliner and Richard Rothstein, was largely ignored. By the time Diane Ravitch broke with the corporate reformers and published her "Death and Life of the Great American School System" five years later, the national grass roots base for a national movement against the tyranny of expensive test-based and corporate inspired "accountability" systems had been laid.Education Secretary Duncan has said, "Diane Ravitch is in denial and she is insulting all of the hardworking teachers, principals and students all across the country who are proving her wrong every day." Bloomberg View columnist Jonathan Alter wrote that she "uses phony empiricism to rationalize almost every tired argument offered by teachers unions."

Undeterred, Ravitch keeps the excuses coming:

* "We would know more if the reformers took over an entire low-performing district, like Newark or Detroit." They'd love to, but guess who is blocking them?

* "The four-year graduation rate is one way to measure graduation rates, but it is not the only way. Many young people take longer than four years to earn a high school diploma." As if kids who take six years to graduate high school have it made.

• "Poor children . . . are more likely to be hungry or suffer from anemia because of a poor diet." So America's new crop of spherical kids are flunking out because they're . . . underfed? Those hulking Augustus Gloops you see rolling off to school every morning are actually spindly Oliver Twists?

I don't think Ravitch is listening to them. What these kids are saying is, "Please sir, I want some more . . . education."



Sunday, August 18, 2013. Arne Duncan Sics His Flying Monkeys on Diane Ravitch

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan instructs propagandist Peter Cunningham that he won't win his third Leni Riefenstahl award for corporate promotionals unless he can sink Diane Ravitch's "Reign of Error." Unwilling to do the job himself and alone against such a formidable enemy, Cunningham asked others of his species from The New York Post to DFER to join him, and they swarmed across the sky in pursuit of their 21st Century Dorothy while praising mid-20th Century eugenics notions...I'm often shocked by what passes for argument nowadays. I don't suppose it's big news that Diane Ravitch has an impending book release. While I can't wait to read it, I follow her blog, and am well aware of her point of view.

So, too, is the White House, as represented by Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Duncan failed miserably to help Chicago schools, and thus was called upon by our President to work his magic on the rest of the country.

Former Duncan assistant Peter Cunningham tells us how our tax dollars were being used:

" of my jobs was to monitor criticism of our policies and develop our responses."

In other words, he sat around reading blogs and news articles. Nice work if you can get it. And the salary surely must beat that of us lowly teachers.

Cunningham saw fit to attack now [in August 2013, one month before publication], rather than bother to actually read the upcoming book. At some point, the administration was actually communicating with Ravitch.

"Over the years, her criticism of the administration became more and more strident. It was increasingly clear that she was not interested in a genuine conversation with us but rather was interested in driving her anti-administration message, even if it meant resorting to tactics that are beneath someone of her stature: ad hominem attacks on the secretary, cherry-picking data, setting up straw man arguments, taking language out of context and distorting its meaning, and ignoring sound evidence that conflicts with her point of view."

Note that Cunningham does not offer a single example of anything of which Ravitch is accused. We are, I suppose, to simply take him at his word. I'm puzzled as to how accusing her of all these things with no evidence whatsoever is not in itself the ad hominem attack that he deems so distasteful. If there is evidence, or indeed a single example, why doesn't Cunningham share it with us?

Although the systematic critique of the quarter century long fraud of corporate "school reform" in the USA has long been done (above, Jerry Bracey's book was completed in 2000), it took Ravitch's apostasy to bring the research to the broadest possible audience and have the well-subsidized proponents and apologists for corporate school reform frothing in fury. Cunningham then quotes Ravitch, who says Common Core standards are too high. There is, in fact, evidence that this is absolutely correct. For one, there is the massive failure rate in NY State. For another, there is evidence that the benchmark is fatally flawed. It's shocking that someone who, at least ostensibly, represented us and our children, cannot be bothered to do such rudimentary research.

This is followed by an excursion into other-worldliness as Cunningham ventures to read Ravitch's mind. Ravitch says not everyone needs to go to college, and Cunningham informs us of who Ravitch has in mind:

"When Dr. Ravitch says, 'But maybe they don't need to go to college,' who exactly is she referring to? It's certainly not rich white kids."

Yet I don't actually see that specified in Ravitch's comments. Doubtless there is no such thing as a rich white plumber or business owner. Cunningham continues:

"I know she has repudiated many of her earlier views on reform and I respect her right to change her mind. But openly and unrepentantly calling for low standards and implying that whole segments of the student population are not college material is indefensible."

Here, Cunningham refers to Ravitch's former position supporting national standards. I'd presume it would go without saying that an acceptable national standard would be researched, field-tested, and established as having validity. Common Core is none of the above. And yet, Duncan himself claims these are not national standards. It's remarkable that Cunningham hasn't even got the talking point right.

Worse, is his baseless accusation that Ravitch calls for low standards. I've never seen her call for any such thing. Cunningham would have us assume that any of us who fail to support his unproven "reform" oppose high standards for kids. He would have us assume that saying some kids don't or won't need college is an insult on some group. His citation of white kids would have us assume some covert racism on Ravitch's part, an implication for which he, again, offers no evidence whatsoever.

"I understand that Dr. Ravitch is about to publish another book attacking education reform. She will go after my good friend Arne Duncan. She will attack alternative educational approaches such as charter schools -- even if they are successful. She will attack well-meaning and hard-working organizations like Teach for America. She will attack foundations and organizations she disagrees with, regardless of the benefits they provide to educators. She will lump them all together as one big corporate conspiracy aimed at privatizing public education."

Again, we are to take Cunningham's word Ravitch will "go after" his "good friend." First of all baseless personal attacks, like Cunningham's column, are very different from reasoned criticism of policies or actions. Second, it's pretty clear Duncan is the very same good friend who bribed cash-starved states to accept his baseless and unproven policies.

"If some of these efforts are moving too fast for some and are off-base for others, we can discuss it like adults with intellectual rigor and mutual respect and adjust accordingly."

Yet Cunningham himself does none of this as he launches yet another thinly-veiled and utterly baseless attack.

"But we can never, ever retreat. "

No matter how hurtful, misguided or ineffective our policies are, we must continue. With all due respect, Mr. Cunningham, that notion is nothing short of idiotic. If that's the best argument you can muster, the title of this piece is surely an offense to flying monkeys everywhere.


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 5 =