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Diane Ravitch, Former Secretary of Education


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Broadcast 3/5/2015 at 19:22:29 (0 Listens, 0 Downloads, 0 Itunes)
The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

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Public education, nationwide, represents a $500-$700 billion a year opportunity to big business and hedge funds. They're going after it with the help of ALEC, the Koch brothers and Barack Obama. Diane Ravitch brings us up to speed on the details of the threats to public education and democracy from centralized testing, Common Core, charter schools, No Child Left Behind, virtual schools and more.

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Diane Ravitch historian of education and Research Professor of Education at New York University.

She served as Assistant Secretary of Education, advising both George H. Bush and Bill Clinton.

She has written more than 20 books, including her most recent, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools,

Making Good Citizens: Education and Civil Society and

The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn

to name a few.

Her websites: and

Below you'll find rough notes from the interview-- very rough.

I recently Interviewed the founder of Ted Talks- who said that education should be bottom-up. What's your take on Bottom-up education?

Centralization vs Decentralization-- common core, no child left behind-- aren't they centralized-- i.e., top-down.

we're the most over-tested country in the world. Finland trusts their teachers. There is a national curriculum, but teachers have tremendous autonomy-- however teachers are very, very selectively chosen. Only one out of ten who apply to become a teacher are accepted.

Rob: What is your vision of an ideal educational system? Does it exist anywhere in the world or in the USA?

one that encompasses something more than schooling-- the teachers sh ould be very well educated, carefuly selected, a cadre of mentors to support new teachers who come in-- and for the school system to be successful the community has to be successful.

Rob: that's a really different, holistic approach than what is being sold by Arne Duncan and Obama.

Arne Duncan's idea of the civil rights issue of our time is simply testing.

Rob What do you mean "Arne Duncan's civil rights issue."

undiscussed issue by Arne duncan-- 51 % of our children living in low income households.

To call testing a civil right is absolutely ridiculous.

Rob: Sounds like it's almost the opposite.

Rob: at one point you approved charter schools and testing. But you no longer do. What changed?

well- to-do and middle class kids dominate the top half. Maybe you have to say that the independent variable is poverty and not standard.

Does wealth provide access to good education? Is that the key?

buys good health care, nutrition, safe neighborhood, experiences, parents with more education-- ". that's a world of difference" in educational outcomes.

Rob: You state in your bio that you sent your children to private school.

today, were I to do it over again, I would send them to public schools.

What I am very much opposed to is the taxpayers paying for children

Rob: What percentage of private schools, charter schools are religious schools-

big percentage of vouchers are going to religious schools-- with public money.

In some states it's been declared unconstitutional

As far as vouchers go how much goes to charter vs religious school.

vouchers don't send kids to private schools.

Voucher schools are about 90% religious. -- means sending kids to schools with uncertified teachers. How this is a reform-- makes no sense.

studies have shown that voucher students do no better and often do worse.

Public schools are not failing. They have low test scores because they have port kids and the poor kids are failing.

Charter schools deregulating-- worst of charters are virtual charters-- without actual buildings. Basically it's home schooling with a computer.

PA is one of the worst for virtual charter schools.

Virtual schools have a drop-out rate of 50% of students every year.

Very low test scores and graduation rates are abysmal-

Biggest is K-12-- all over the country, has about 250,000 students-- has terrible.

Rob: when I think of homeschooling, I think of religious parents who don't want their kids exposed to the social"

When K-12 first started they asked Bill Bennet, who is a strong religious" they asked him to be a spokesman for the program" But they learned that


Rob: 250,000 students at $10,000 a student-- that's billions of dollars a year.

First virtual charter school foundering PA in legal trouble now.

Rob: What's the tie between education and democracy?

Public education is a building block of democracy.

Fire departments used to be private.

A democratic society has to provide certain public services.

In countries where there are vouchers-- there has been a great increase in segregation.

"Susan Lee Schwartz who writes at Opednews, has been relentless in exposing what she feels is the greatest threat to our democracy AT THIS MOMENT-- the privatization of our schools. How is this so?" or "Is the pace accelerating?"

Please discuss the efforts by ALEC-- the American Legislative Exchange Council,-- and Koch brothers to affect education

And you talk about billionaires--

Bill Gates single handedly paid for Common Core--

Walton Family Foundation-- have played a huge hand for teach for america== for the charter movement, vouchers and fighting collective bargaining.

Eli Broad foundation-- superintendents known as Broadies. Put out a booklet on how to close public schools.

see charter school scandals website and broad report--

When you get to ALEC you get really scary stuff-- go to website ALEC EXPOSED

ALEC has 2000 legislators-- it writes model legislation. When you look at the issues they want government out of the way-- no regulations, no taxes, no unions, no teacher credentialling,

This is one of the reasons for the spread of virtual charters-- ALEC is opposed to the regulation of anything.

ALEC came to public attention after Trayvon Martin was killed and Stand Your Ground law, which ALEC promoted, was raised.

Charters are now able to open without certified teachers.

The amount of deregulation is simply staggering, in terms of is this good for education, is this good for children.

Rob: You've talked about how big the education budget is-- $500 billion--

It could be $600 or $700 billion

Rob: That's as big as the defense budget.

Michael Moe of GSF advisors-- education has been pushing education profit making for 15 years or more

Rob: It looks like the capitalists are trying to do the same thing with education that's been done with healthcare.

There is also the prison system.

ECOT, Whitehead...

Rob: Charter schools don't have to be accountable? How can that be?

Charters in Ohio do much worse than public schools.

there's also a lot of cherry-picking of students-- they're expensive to educate. There are charter schools that actively push kids out--

Charter schools do not back-fill-- as kids leave, they don't take new kids. So, the most successful school in NYC, the Success academy, doesn't accept new students after 3rd grade.

Rob: don't they get paid based on the number of students--

Rob: That's a little confusing because I thought it was a for-profit thing.

The for-profits make the money not on the head-count but on the leasing.

Rob: This sounds incredibly predatory and rapacious and something that teachers and public schools have no resources to defend against.

Rob: In health care hospitals are heavily audited and held accountable. How can this be in education?

Rob: You've pointed out that selling out to the charter school business is becoming more and more bi-partisan-- both sides are taking lobbyist money

Bruce Rauner-- has a charter school named for him. Doesn't care about needy kids.

Rob: I read that you said that the charter school and testing reform movement was started by billionaires and "right wing think tanks like the Heritage Foundation," for the purpose of destroying public education and teachers' unions

Rob: There's No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and Common Core-- what are the differences between them?

no child left behind mandated tests. Created billions in profits for testing companies.

Obama was elected and people assumed he would change no child left behind. Race for the top is No Child Left Behind 2.0. For states to have access to 4.3 billion in funds, they had to test, lift impediments to charter schools" what seemed to be a voluntary program turned into a national mandate. Requirement for common standards-- which were Common Core Standards-- Bill Gates pumped $200 million into creating them and millions more into promoting them--

States that don't want to use common core tests are being told they will lose federal funding if they don't use the common core test, which is called PARK. Arne Duncan spent over $400 million to develop these tests.

Rob: This reminds me of how Obama is selling out in so many ways with the TPP and it's Atlantic trade pact counterpart.

Rob: What are some of elements of common core (CC) that are unacceptable?

CC promotes very specific kinds of instructional practices

70% of reading in HS should be non-fiction and only 30% fiction

Rob: that seems to tie into the taking away of the arts and sports

It ties in to workforce preparation.

CC emphasizes close reading-- approach anything you read without context or background-- you need know nothing about the civil war o r Abraham lincoln to understand the Gettysburg address. That's nonsense.

Rob: You gave a talk last year to your group, the Network for Public Education, titled, Why We'll Win. Why WILL we win?

We'll win because everything they do is failing. The evidence is overwhelmingly against it-- It doesn't work.

Everything they have advocated for has failed. That' s why we will win.

What we are advocating for--

Rob: What can listeners and readers who want to support what you advocate for do?

read Reign of Error, read, and get active.

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Rob Kall is the host of the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360, where he discusses how the bottom up mind and bottom up revolution are reaching different areas of the world, of life, of politics, business, society and anywhere else.

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