How is public education really “under attack”?
What can we do about it?
Join SPARC and Diane Ravitch
to understand what’s going on with public education and
discuss what you can do locally address these important questions
The Sun Prairie Action Resource Coalition is thrilled to announce that we and our friends at Progressive Partners are collaborating to help cosponsor a series of events connected to the Wisconsin visit of public education advocate Diane Ravitch organized by Public School Shakedown of The Progressive Magazine and Edgewood College’s School of Education. Ravitch will speak at the Orpheum Theatre on State Street on Nov. 14. The event is cosponsored by Madison Teachers, Inc.; Midwest Family Broadcasting; and WEAC. Please join us for these important and necessary conversations about the future of public education from national and local perspectives.
“No matter what side of the debate the reader is on, Ms. Ravitch provides a thought-provoking look at some of the major challenges facing public education today.”
– Eleanor Chute
Why Public Education Matters: Locally, Nationally, Now
with Ruth Conniff of The Progressive
Wed., Nov. 6, 6:30-8:30pm
Open discussion of Diane Ravitch’s new book, Reign of Error
Community Room, Sun Prairie Public Library
1350 Linnerud Drive, Sun Prairie WI 53590
Please feel free to attend whether or not you’ve finished the book (we’ll provide summaries), but if you plan to join us, you should order the book today!
NOTE: Diane Ravitch will not be at the Nov. 6 event,
which is organized in anticipation of her visit to Madison on Nov. 14.
If you’ve been following education news and upcoming legislation in Wisconsin, you are undoubtedly aware that there are several bills on the table this session that would severely undermine local control and weaken accountability of charter schools. Many of these measures are being drafted and supported by the lobbyists of for-profit voucher and charter ventures, such as the American Federation for Children and ALEC. And Wisconsin is not the only state seeing the impact and influence of these efforts. Nation-wide, this privatization agenda is being enacted by legislators who put political games before the needs of students and are consolidating power at the state level to hand our schools over to private interests, against our will and without our consent.
Diane Ravitch has been chronicling that process for over 20 years. After serving in the Education cabinets of President George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Dr. Ravitch soon became the nation’s foremost authority on dangers of moving toward an increasingly standardized system of assessing our students and our schools, and how this system is tied to a larger privatization movement. Her books include Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (New York: Knopf, 2013); The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education (2010); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (New York: Knopf, 2003); and Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000/2001). Over the years, her positions have evolved as the political education landscape has changed and the influence of an agenda to privatize public education has become increasingly pervasive.
Her work, including her extremely popular blog and her new book, help shine light on how outside forces and special interest groups are shaping education policy and “reform” in Wisconsin, and pouring unprecedented amounts of money into Wisconsin campaigns. Some illustrative bills in the current legislative session include the following:
- SB 76, the most controversial of a string of anti-public education bills, would mean a massive expansion of charter authority and eliminate decision-making power by local school boards and taxpayers. This bill, which was introduced in amended form with little transparency, has been met with massive resistance and legislators need to hear from all who oppose this dangerous proposal before it reaches the governor’s desk:
LUTHER OLSEN 266-0751 firstname.lastname@example.orgROBERT COWLES 266-0484 email@example.comMIKE ELLIS 266-0718 firstname.lastname@example.org
- SB 318 / AB297 will make it easier for private schools and charters to purchase facilities owned by Milwaukee Public Schools, a bill supported by many who stand to see financial or political gain from this legislation and opposed by Milwaukee educators and taxpayers who see this as a private seizure of publicly owned buildings. The bill, if passed, could potentially evict 3,500 students from their schools.
- SB 317 revokes authority of the Department of Public Instruction and puts the Walker-run Department of Administration in charge of complaints over the continued (illegal) use of Native Americans as “mascots” of Wisconsin public schools. The bill further places the burden of proof on the complainant instead of the school district to “prove” that the mascots are offensive. One legislative supporter of the bill, Sen. Mary Lazich, even betrayed the bill’s true intent (to ensure that all such claims are rejected) in the GOP press release announcing the bill: “It is great to reach reasonable legislation and avoid imposing costly re-branding on school districts. School districts will be able to continue respectfully using their treasured mascots to represent their school spirit in competitions.”
These are just three examples of a slew of bills being proposed right now that undermine local authority and remove taxpayers from the decision-making process essential to ensuring that our public schools best serve the needs of our specific communities. Such legislation, coupled with big-money influence of the special interests behind them, are a very real and very dangerous threat to public education in Wisconsin.
Please join us at this absolutely critical time to discuss what we can do locally to address these issues, and why the big picture of what’s going on nationally matters to all of us.
Reviews, interviews, and praise for Reign of Error:
- What Does Reign of Error Mean?
- Amy Prime: Diane Ravitch’s new book takes education myths to task
- Diane Ravitch’s ‘Reign of Error’: an in-your-face defense of public education by Eleanor Chute
- Diane Ravitch: Testing and vouchers hurt our schools. Here’s what works. Education reformers have it all wrong, Diane Ravitch tells Salon, and keep pushing policies that make schools worse