The conservative “education reform” folks are getting worried


by David Safier

Until recently, it's been tough for any progressive voices to rise above the shouting of the conservative "education reform" movement. Conservatives are swimming in corporate and foundation money, and they have a simple set of myths they repeats ad nauseum: Public schools are failing; Teacher unions are bad for education; Charter and private schools are the answer. Say that often enough, and it sounds like common knowledge.

But things are changing. People are getting sick and tired of the endless testing and test prep (with a dash of enrichment thrown in now and then to add a little spice) — not just teachers, but parents as well. The gradual dismantling of public, community education caused by closing schools has been met with protests in cities across the country. And progressive educators are talking with one another with increasing frequency. Part of the glue holding progessive educators together these days is Diane Ravitch, whose blog and, more recently whose Network for Public Education (which has Tucson's own Robin Hiller as one of its officers) are turning into a national clearing house for progressive articles and blog posts (I've had the pleasure of seeing my posts featured on a few occasions).

In a compliment to the growing strength of the forces of progressive education, the heavily funded group, Parent Revolution, has begun a website called Truth in Education Reform devoted to countering, it says, "Myths. Lies. Fabrications. Conspiracy theories. Fables. Distortions. Whoppers. Fallacies. Fibs." Its main target is Diane Ravitch. They apply George Orwell's concept of Doublethink to Ravitch's writings. To which I say, Back atcha, Parent Revolution!