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Best Book of 2013? Diane Ravitch's 'Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools'!

The only disappointing thing about Diane Ravitch's book "Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" is that America's public school parents and teachers didn't work harder to keep it on The New York Times Best Seller List for more than a couple of weeks following its September 2013 publication. Teachers, forced into ever longer school days with fewer resources, often told me that they were too tired or didn't have the time by late 2013 for the reading of "Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools." But a growing number of our colleagues have now realized it's time to study the book and utilize every chapter as a lesson plan to thwart the latest idiocies coming out of the propaganda mills of corporate "school reform."

Despite some encouragement, most teachers -- and union leaders -- didn't realize the importance of having "Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" on The New York Times Best Seller List as 2013 ended. And so it was that among the lists of "Best" this and that for 2013, "Reign of Error" was barely mentioned, only making The Nation's list. [Note that for 2014, Substance will always talk about Ravitch's latest book using its full title so that our readers get the whole point even before they have opened their own copy. "Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools"].

Ravitch and Reign were a highlight of 2013, but sadly most teachers were being overworked so much that they didn't take the time to buy and read the book that will help liberate them and the nation's public schools.But if the most important political event of 2012 was the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, then the most important literary event of the year after Chicago's teachers struck was "Reign of Error."

Of course, 2013 saw another year of Arne Duncan and Barack Obama pandering to the plutocracy with the "Race To The Top." The hope-filled masses voted Barack Obama into the White House in 2008 without having bothered to read "Audacity of Hope" (Obama's neoliberal manifesto of privatization, union busting, and imperialism) or ask critical questions about Obama's self-serving "Dreams from My Father" -- his earlier book. (Full disclosure: this reporter voted three times for Barack Obama by 2008, once in the Democratic Party Primary for U.S. Senate, then for the Senate, and finally for the presidency...).

The attacks on public education continued in 2013 from the White House, the corporate media, and the mansions of the "one percent," but the blitzkrieg against public schools (and other public services; and public servants) was being blunted across the country. The growing resistance was bolstered by "Reign or Error." The Ravitch book gave critics of corporate school reform a one-stop spot to gather the intellectual ammunition to expose the absurdities of the corporate version of reality.

Here's hoping that 2014 will see teachers finally taking the time to buy and read "Reign," so that it can return to the Best Seller lists and also serve as ammunition in the war for democracy's return. During 2013 CORE members in Chicago purchased more than 40 copies of "Reign of Error...The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools" from me during our monthly meetings, and a small group has continued to read and discuss the book at our monthly book clubs. The next two are scheduled for January 14 and February February 11 at the Richard M. Daley Library at 733 N. Kedzie in Chicago, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. each of those days. (With the Longest School Day forced on Chicago teachers by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, some teachers don't arrive for the discussions until 5:00 p.m. and that's been OK).



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