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Frank Splitt Reviews SLAYING GOLIATH

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Frank Splitt is a retired electrical engineer with a distinguished resume and wide-ranging interests, including education. A friend gave him the hostile review of SLAYING GOLIATH that appeared in The New York Times. He decided to read the book and reach his own judgment. He wrote the following review for Amazon:

An Educational Whodunit with a Happy Ending

For anyone still wondering about what happened to the highly touted education reform programs, such as Common Core, Race to the Top, and Value Added Measures, wonder no more. Diane Ravitch puts on her education historian hat once again—telling a page-turning story.

It’s a whodunit that begins by naming the villains (Goliaths), the millionaires and billionaires who targeted America’s public schools—labeling these schools as poorly managed havens for bad teachers who are protected by their powerful unions.

The villains aimed to replace public schools with charter schools and/or voucher programs while ferreting out so-called bad teachers on the basis of student test scores. For some, public schools presented a rich marketing opportunity ripe for the taking. And take they did with the cooperation of federal, state, and local governments. At the federal level, the U.S. Department of Education under the administrations of President’s George W. Bush, Barack H. Obama, and Donald J. Trump have all been deeply complicit to varying degrees.

The heroes (Davids) in the story are the teachers, students, administrators, and parents who formed the ill-funded, passionate resistance to the privatization and corporatization of America’s public school system. It was this passionate resistance that slayed Goliath.

I would also count Diane Ravitch among these heroes. She sees public education as a basic public responsibility—warning Americans not to be persuaded by a false crisis narrative to privatize it while urging parents, educators, and other concerned citizens to join together to strengthen our public schools and preserve them for future generations.

In this book, Ravitch has exposed the rampant corruption involved with the villain’s takeovers, the baseless notion of evaluating teacher via student test scores, as well as the damage done to communities, schools, students and teachers that will take years to heal, especially so while dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although this is not another book about education reform per se, one is left to wonder where American public education would be today if the Goliaths respected the sound principle of giving to meet needs instead of giving to impose their ideas and take control of K-12 education in America.
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My thanks go to primary teachers Holly Rothstein Balk, Katianne Rothstein Olson, Chelsea Gabzdyl, and Margaret Zamzow Wenzelman, as well as high school teachers Margaret Mangan, (the late) Joseph Hafenscher and to retired Illinois State Board of Education staff member Michael Mangan, for their insights into the Common Core State Standards, Value Added Measures, and the impact of the standards and related over-the-top testing regimes on school administrators, teachers, and their students.

This is a must read book for parents, teachers, government officials, and other concerned citizens as well.

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