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Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America's Public Schools

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  215 ratings  ·  44 reviews
From one of the foremost authorities on education and the history of education in the United States, "whistleblower extraordinaire" (The Wall Street Journal), former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, author of the best-selling Reign of Error ("fearless" --Jonathan Kozol, NYRB)--an impassioned, inspiring look at the ways in which parents, teachers, activists--citizens- ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published January 21st 2020 by Knopf Publishing Group
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Lianna Bessette
Mar 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. While I really appreciate and agree with Ravitch's message, this book felt too long and much more repetitive than her previous books. If you don't know a lot about the education "reform" movement, including charter schools and voucher programs, I definitely recommend reading this book to gain a better understanding of the challenges teachers have been facing over the past decade or so. Since I already knew quite a bit about this topic, I found the book somewhat tedious but still valua ...more
Jan 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-science
4.5 stars. This book is a scathing takedown of all of the politicians and billionaires that have tried to standardize and privatize public education in the past 20 years. It made me viscerally angry, and I frequently wanted to punch people in the face. However, Ravitch passionately tells the stories of the grassroots organizers out there fighting to stop this onslaught. There's not a lot of room for the morally gray in this book- (she spends two chapters specifically devoted to calling out the n ...more
DJ Williams
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
Man, I don't know.

I do agree with all the main points of this book. The proliferation of charter schools is bad. Defunding public schools is bad. Common Core standards and yearly high-stakes testing are bad. Not paying teachers a livable wage is bad.

But I found the book's language to be highly simplistic and the style to be irritating (like a 300-page manifesto). There are so many lists that seem to go on for pages, and I don't really need to know exactly how many charter schools closed and ope
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I'm glad to see that Ravitch saw the light, after being one of the strongest proponents of school privatization under Bush. It is still difficult for me to trust her. Her enlightenment comes late. The capitalist shits have already captured the Supreme Court, the Congress and the Presidency. They will continue to view the world through dollar signs, because they don't yet have all the money. The fake ed reform movements were, and are, solely about money, not education.
Ravitch lists, for the first
Slaying Goliath is an excellent and timely exposé of the network of billionaires, think tanks, policy institutes, and politicians, Republican and Democrat alike, who have sought for the past 30 years to de-fund, demean, and eventually destroy American public education and replace it with a variety of unaccountable, unaccredited, and opaque taxpayer funded(!) private, charter, and religious schools.

Ravitch is a relentless sleuth and has done a meticulous job of researching the issues in order to
May 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
When this book was written teachers were protesting and public education seemed to be Gettleman big stronger than it has been in years. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m not so sure how public education will survive but it’s important that they do. Diane Ravich teaches me a lot that I didn’t know, especially who Disrupters and Resisters are. Disrupters are the people who promoted the idea that public education was in trouble and not good. The created a way of promoting their beliefs using FUD ...more
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was a great book. I was very lucky to have had a wonderful public education with very skilled teachers. They prepared me for college just great. Now in this year it is much harder to get a good public education, resources are limited and books are hard to come by. This writer wants to preserve public education and not let the schools all become private. The promise of higher scores did not pan out like the private schools had hoped for.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fine synopsis of where we are now, in the fight to preserve America’s best idea, a free, high-quality, fully public education for every child in America. Ravitch offers some hope that the public has tired of disruption and Big Sexy ideas that don’t work.

Fast-paced and well-written. This year’s must-read for education policy junkies.
Sep 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Good review of the disruptive ed reform movement, especially the charter school boom taking money from public schools & the over-reliance on standardized testing of the last 2 decades. But writing style was distracting—so repetitive & ranting.
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This a wonderful, wise, and passionate book about the success of teachers and other opponents of ‘reform’ in fighting the assembled billions of the charter/ voucher/ privatization ‘movement’ that seemed to occur against all odds.

I admire DR as a scholar, administrator, pundit, public intellectual, and all who is unafraid to change her position but also to take a position and fight. So the book is not a cool and reflective assessment, but more a victory lap of a leader who has earned a victory la
Mar 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Disclosure: I'm a proud public school teacher.

Diane Ravitch is considered a darling of the movement for anti-privatization of education. In reality, we simply don't have a lot of figures as widely recognized as she is. Public school teachers are busy working with children, organizing, speaking out in their own communities. The communities that are most affected by privatization are the poorest, have the least job security, encounter the most barriers in speaking out.

I appreciate her role in thi
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
I thought I would love this book, so the fact that it's one of the worst and uninteresting books I've read in the past year is disappointing. I'll start with giving the credit where it's due: great message and the anger is well intended. Diane Ravitch is absolutely and 100% correct in her disappointment and fear of the private sector's growing influence of public sector education. I don't disagree at all with most of what she's saying, especially when she digs into who funds these for-profit edu ...more
"...the Disruption movement is imploding. None of its ideas have been successful. Every promise it made has gone unfulfilled. Every initiative it has launched has failed. Its victories are ephemeral. Most are fanciful triumphs of public relations and marketing. ... Most of its followers are paid employees. ... They have an inordinate influence on public decision making because of their great wealth. ... But their transactions cannot be confused with a social movement." (pgs. 49-51)

I'm working my
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was ok
I’m not sure why this message is in book form. I appreciated the author’s own epiphany about avoiding Federal standardization in public K-12 education and the anecdotes about committed people resisting attempts to privatize public education through charter schools and vouchers. There was also some good data about fraud in the charter school industry. Maybe I missed it because I started skimming all the repetitive paragraphs, but did she attempt to interview “the Disrupters”? If not, how does she ...more
Juan M. Romero
Sep 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed the well researched book although some of the points are restated over and over again.

One of the points that resonated with me dealt with the disconnect between the “reformers” and their ideas of how a school should be run, while at the same time their greed and corruption continue to strip away money from local public schools.

On a personal note, the book is frustrating to read at times because like almost anything else in our political system, it seems like a daunting tasks to compete
Haylee Anderson
Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed enlightening myself on the history and issues in education. However, the tone and themes of this entire book are nagging, whiny, and so redundant that I found myself giving up on this boon halfway through. There were absolutely no practical solutions for change aside from a few minuscule examples included of The Resistance to be The Disrupters of education. In my opinion, the work is abysmal, and the tone is dismal with jo true outlook of hope and change. It seems like there is ...more
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The last time I read Ravitch was quite some time ago, and I remember enjoying her assessment of the problems deeply entrenched in the public school system. This time around she still writes well enough, but she is quite strident in placing blame on the "disrupters" (her name for reformers of the last thirty or so years), and has become a defender of the "resisters" (her name for teachers, their unions, and activist parents). It seems to me that the problems remain and that the corrections are to ...more
Paul Gardner
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Learned a lot about how those pushing charter schools did what they did, and how damaging it has been for the American school system. I was disappointed in how some of the Disrupters (Gates in particular) didn't learn from the process as they went.

The almost endless lists Ravitch uses do drive the point home and show how the Disrupters just don't learn, or how they're determined to gain at the public's expense. So even they there were hard to read, and I did find myself skimming them after a cer
Aubrey Anderson
Jun 20, 2020 rated it liked it
I fundamentally agree with Ravitch, yet this book was simply unpalatable.

It read more like an acrid diatribe with overtones of a personal vendetta against the campaigns she formerly supported. We understand, Diane, you are a reformed Reformer. Personal attacks do not strengthen arguments no matter how verbose the attack nor how worthy the target.

The material presented in this book might have been more easily understood as a series of case studies rather than a narrative. So much data and so ma
Sep 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't count the number of times I've brought this book up or its contents in conversations in the last few weeks. Diane Ravitch writes a deep dive into the causes, effects, and reactions to the privatization, standardization, and accountability movement in US public schools. If you are an educator, you need to read this book now. Even if you are not directly connected to education I highly recommend this book as an example of how private billionaires have huge impacts on local politics that af ...more
Amanda Sanders
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic and hopeful book on the attacks on public education and teachers, in particular. It debunks the theories that ed reform is best for students. It gives me hope after leaving public education in despair. Teacher strikes and teachers running for office are making an impact on our education system that was under attack by billionaires that don't want to pay their fair share of taxes to support education. ...more
John Montgomery
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This great book which will offend and annoy many readers. I'm a public school teacher, so it just made me angry since I've seen a lot of this happening. Diane Ravitch calls it as she sees it sometimes the truth hurts. Here's a little spoiler alert: I think Bill Gates is a wonderful human being, but what the heck were those educational impositions? C'mon Bill, you're a really smart guy, did you think any of that would help? ...more
Sep 28, 2020 rated it did not like it
Couldn't make it past Chapter 2. I think I misunderstood the title or the purpose of this book. I expected a well researched book where the author would make a decent case with solid arguments against the privatization of public schools. I read two chapters with long lists of names of "disrupters" a derogatory name for those opposing public education, alongside with how these "disrupters" made their money. ...more
Tony Rublaitus
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this thoroughly researched book about public vs private schools. I learned so much about how billionaires with no education experience are fighting to privatize public schools. Ravitch exposes vouchers, charters, common core, VAM, No Child Left Behind, etc. for what they really are. "Philanthropies should respect the sound principle of giving to meet needs instead of giving to impose their ideas and take control of others." ...more
Kyle Lusby
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly eye opening. The charter school coalition leads one to believe that they are trying to help those in poverty evade the horrors of public education. Little do we know the millions of dollars being raked in by big business and the percentage of charter closures. Everyone with children who pays taxes should read this incredibly enlightening book.
Ryan Collins
Mar 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting history of educational policy from the 1983 Nation at Risk Report to the current RedforEd movement. While I felt like Ravitch is a little more repetitive here than she is in her other books, she does a great job tracing the history of charter schools and the empty promises of NCLB, The Common Core, and Race to the Top. Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone with a stake in public education, which, incidentally, is everyone!
Holly Bik
Feb 03, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: misc-nonfiction
An illuminating read that clarified a lot of concepts I had heard of but never really understood, like Charter school and Common Core standards. But the information was super repetitive (lots of lists of names and organizations, repeated many times) - I feel like a good editor’s hand could have made this book much slimmer and less of a chore to get through.
Nov 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Some good info, some hopeful information about the work of teachers and parents. But I wish it had been more distilled and less listing of actions in chronology. I like the book, just wanted more from it.
Jan 29, 2020 added it
Shelves: edu
Chapter 3 felt read a syllabus to a grad course.
Matt Haynes
Feb 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An awesome book on the importance of public education!
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“What I had come to understand was that the root cause of poor performance in schools is not 'bad schools' or 'bad teachers' but poverty. Closing schools and firing their teachers and principals does not help students. If anything, it introduces damaging instability into their lives. The privatizers hail disruption and call it 'creative,' but it is neither creative nor beneficial.” 1 likes
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