The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch is a seminal work, again, but John Taylor Gatto is an equally and powerfully astute competitor for the title of America’s premiere education historian.
Is choice still viable? Isn’t this what education is all about, making choices about what to learn and pursue? Have we been sidetracked by thematic schools, when students want even broader choices, the “Big Picture” so that they can fit their careers into a growing frontier of research and knowledge? Ravitch examines her career in education reform, and repudiates positions that she once fiercely defended. Evaluating broadly popular ideas for restructuring schools, she explains why they have had no positive impact on the quality of American education. Ravitch reconsiders the evolution of her own views on key issues and reveals her skepticism regarding charter schools, privatization, accountability, and the philanthropists who are trying to control school reform using business models for school planning. Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University. She has written or edited more than twenty books, including The Language Police, The Great School Wars, The Troubled Crusade, The American Reader, The English Reader, and Left Back. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Christian Science Monitor
“Ravitch has had enough of fly-by-night methods and unchallenging requirements. She’s impatient with education that is not personally transformative. She believes there is experience and knowledge of art, literature, history, science, and math that every public school graduate should have.”
As far as I know Mr. Gatto allows this Internet Archive of his book, with a new version coming out soon. https://archive.org/details/JohnTaylorGattoTheUndergroundHistoryOfAmericanEducationBook
Also see the latest book by Ravitch Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools. “We must take care not to reestablish a dual school system, with privately managed charters for the most motivated, most able students and public schools as the repositories for those unable to get into the charter system… To reduce the achievement gap, we must reduce the opportunity gap… Protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for future generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time.” The Reign of Error (not complete copy)