Some critical notes on the NPE... NPE and the coalition of dissemblers...

[Editor's Note: The editors of Substance were not invited to make any presentations or participate in the recent conference of the "Network for Public Education" (NPE) in Chicago. This is despite the fact that long before the NPE was invented, Substance reporters and editors had been leading what we called the "Resistance" to high-stakes testing and corporate "school reform" in the USA. For the past 13 years, Substance has been on line, first at, and since 2007 at So even though we don't have the budget to post on line the entire 40 years of Substance (yes, we are now in our 40th year), we can make it easy for those who are stuck in the current way of reviewing history (where anything not in Wikipedia might as well not exist), readers can check out most of the facts if they want to. And so, with respect to those facts, and to those among our reporters and analysts who have developed the massive critique of corporate "education reform" for far longer than a decade, we are going to air some discussion of the limitation of those who visited Chicago last weekend. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

Diane Ravitch chairs the "Network for Public Education." First published at "Schools Matter"...

NPE and the Coalition of the Dissemblers, By Jim Horn

When the Bush Administration put together the Coalition of the Willing in the lead-up to the War on Iraq in 2003, many countries signed up to help the U. S. effort, even though very few actually put any boots on the ground in Baghdad. One thing was for sure, however: no Coalition member was allowed to work either behind the scenes or in public to assist Saddam Hussein's government.

That is not the case with the coalition that the Ravitch team at NPE is putting together to protect its rhetorical Maginot Line against the corporate education reform blitzkreig. Instead of at least demanding loyalty, if nothing else, to the defense of the public school homeland, Ravitch wants a coalition that is open to bad actors with long histories of deceit, treachery, and traitorous behavior. In short, she wants to bring AFT and NEA into her headquarters, where knowledge of operations and strategy will be jointly developed with those that can be counted upon to provide active assistance to the enemy. If there were, in fact, an enemy or enemies. What is bizarre about the NPE coalition is that NPE has declared no foe, preferring instead to pretend to protect the hard earned territory of public education with fortifications made of platitudes that contain its "positive agenda." And even though there are corporate education warlords building and deploying real weapons of mass educational destruction, the Ravitch coalition remains content to verbalize about all those values, ideas, concepts, and practices that are being systematically demolished by the corporate warlords' growing trove of weapons: corporate foundation drones, standardized test bombs, Common Core, TFA grunts, charter schools, segregation, big data, high tech surveillance, vouchers, research propaganda campaigns, offensive techno-gadgets, austerity, teacher d-evaluation, etc.

Meanwhile, the old silver fox and her lieutenants pretend to stand tall above it all, declaring that someday when the pillaging aggressors get tired, she and her loyal band of positive mutual admirers will declare victory among the ruins. Her troops (or are they diplomats?) are convinced that, as a Ravitch aide-de-camp noted the other day, When reformsters have moved on because its hard and challenging and a slog and not just as fun as it was a whole ten years ago, we will still be here, doing the job, educating students and doing it all in the midst of the mess created. . .

Such sentiments are sentimental schlock, for sure, but they are also extremely dangerous; the suggestion is that if those who believe in the "positive agenda" wait long enough and talk long enough with their double agent allies at their chandeliered retreats, it is just a matter of time until the forces of good can come out of their banquet halls, move back into their school rooms, and pick up where things left off before the fascist CorpEd invasion and decimation of public schools. This sentimentalized foolishness represents a thought disorder of major proportions and one that is counterproductive to building a resistance movement based on principled actions of civil disobedience and non-violent resistance.

As I have noted, ad nauseum, the corporate education profiteers, the ed industry predators, and the philanthrocapitalists will cease their all-out war against public institutions when, 1) their efforts cease to increase their power and feed their greed, and/or 2) their efforts result in their own livelihoods and properties being threatened or destroyed. Neither of these outcomes will happen by crafting positive agendas, collaborating with collaborators, or wishful thinking. These outcomes will only happen, rather, by devising and implementing strategies to identify and attack corporate enemies of democracy with any nonviolent strategy or tactic at the disposal of an underground and aboveground army that is committed to the end to 1) replacing corporate influence in public education with democratic governance, 2) replacing segregation of all kinds with inclusive boundaries and practices, and 3) eradicating high stakes tests and other racist/classist educational policies.


May 10, 2015 at 7:19 PM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

NPE put into perspective

I'll just say I enjoyed the hell out of this piece of writing. Where the mealy-mouthed think they're fighting back against the forces of corporate "deform" in a way that's a role model for civilized diplomatic confrontation, the truth in this article breaks through that sugar-coated crust for a bit of substance on the subject.

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