2001: AGAINST SCHOOL

How public education cripples our kids, and why By John Taylor Gatto John Taylor Gatto is a former New York State and New York City Teacher of the Year and the author, most recently, of The Underground History of American Education. He was a participant in the Harper’s Magazine forum “School on a Hill,” which appeared in the September 2001 issue. I taught for thirty years in some of the worst schools in Manhattan, and in some of the best, and during that time I became an expert in boredom. Boredom was everywhere in my world, and if you asked the kids, as I often did, why they felt so bored, they always gave the same answers: They said the work was stupid, that it made no sense, that they already knew it. They said they wanted to be doing something real, not just sitting around. They said teachers […] Read More

2004: The Horrors of Public Education

“School sucks.” Most students will agree, and many have voiced their disgust concerning this abomination we call public education. They spite the good students who obey like little sheep, frown at imposed conformity, and laugh at the hypocritical nature of the system. The same will be done here, but there is a big difference between these defiant students and me, the author. I was one of those good little sheep. I graduated high school with a 4.0, perfect attendance record, two years of student council under my belt, and a host of top scholarships to get me through college. Teachers loved me, students both feared and respected me, and the principal knew me better than I knew him. It’s enough to make you sick. I know it made me sick. So here I am, biting the hand that feeds because it’s been feeding nothing but propaganda and sour grapes. […] Read More

2013: As Universities Cut State Strings, Some Fear ‘Privatization’ of Public Schools

Many are worried that as public universities gain freedom, they will end up sidelining broader goals such as access and affordability. The chancellor of Oregon’s higher-education system currently oversees all seven of the state’s public colleges and universities. But as of July next year, she’ll be the chancellor of four. The schools aren’t closing. Rather, Oregon’s three largest state schools are in the process of breaking away from the rest of the public system. The move, long pushed by some university leaders in the system, will give the University of Oregon, Portland State University and Oregon State University more freedom to hire and fire presidents, issue revenue bonds, and raise tuition. Across the country, a small but growing number of public universities are making similar pushes, looking to cut deals with state lawmakers that scale back direct oversight, often in return for less funding or for meeting certain performance […] Read More

2013: Closing the School-Readiness Gap: The Benefits of Preschool for Children of Color

Laying the groundwork for America’s future success and broadly shared prosperity means investing in our growing communities of color today. The majority of children under age 1 in the United States today are children of color; that one simple fact means that our future will be very different from our current reality. Before we reach the end of this decade, more than half of all youth in this country will be of color. Today, Hispanics are 17 percent of the population, and African Americans make up another 13 percent. But by 2043, the United States’ population will be the majority of people of color. A large portion of this growth will come from the Hispanic community, which will grow to 28 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. Because we know where the United States is headed, we have a unique opportunity to make the most of this knowledge […] Read More

2014: Honor Student Suspended for Popping Advil Sues District

New Jersey district punished boy after another student accused him of taking steroids. A school district must face claims that a student who was falsely accused of taking steroids was suspended and kicked off National Honor Society for taking Advil, a federal judge ruled. William Valichka gave Advil to his son, A.V., for back pain during baseball practice at Pennsgrove High School in New Jersey in March 2012, according to the complaint. Another student told a teacher that A.V. was taking steroids, and the teacher informed a school district administrator, Glen Asch, Valichka claims. Though A.V. told Asch he had taken Advil, not steroids, the official called A.V.’s parents to the school and told them that A.V. could not return until he took a drug test, the family said. A.V.’s parents say the physician who examined their son and tested his urine confirmed that A.V. had not taken steroids. […] Read More

2013: How Privatizers Are Killing Our Schools

Apparently working together as a community is anti-American ‘Communism’ now. Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast called the public school system a “socialist regime.” Michelle Rhee cautions us against commending students for their ‘participation’ in sports and other activities. Privatizers believe that any form of working together as a community is anti-American. To them, individual achievement is all that matters. They’re now applying their winner-take-all profit motive to our children. We’re Sliding Backwards, Towards “Separate and Unequal” In 1954, the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education seemed to place our country on the right track. Chief Justice Earl Warren said that education “is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.” Thurgood Marshall insisted on “the right of every American to an equal start in life.” But then we got derailed. We’ve become a nation of inequality, worse than ever before, worse than during the racist “separate but […] Read More

2014: Is College A Waste Of Time And Money?

Are you thinking of going to college? If so, please consider that decision very carefully. You probably have lots of people telling you that an “education” is the key to your future and that you will never be able to get a “good job” unless you go to college.  And it is true that those that go to college do earn more on average than those that do not.  However, there is also a downside.  At most U.S. colleges, the quality of the education that you will receive is a joke, the goal of most colleges is to extract as much money from you and your parents as they possibly can, and there is a very good chance that there will not be a “good job” waiting for you once you graduate.  And unless you have someone that is willing to pay your tuition bills, you will probably be […] Read More

2014: Koch-Backed Charter School Founder Makes Millions From Public Education

Businesses can now run chains of public schools, conflicts of interest be damned. Versions of this story were co-published with the Daily Beast, Raleigh News & Observer, and Charlotte Observer. In late February, the North Carolina chapter of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, a group co-founded by the libertarian billionaire Koch brothers, embarked on what it billed as a statewide tour of charter schools, a cornerstone of the group’s education agenda. The first — and it turns out, only — stop was Douglass Academy, a new charter school in downtown Wilmington. Douglass Academy was an unusual choice. A few weeks before, the school had been warned by the state about low enrollment. It had just 35 students, roughly half the state’s minimum. And a month earlier, a local newspaper had reported that federal regulators were investigating the school’s operations. But the school has other attributes that may have appealed to the Koch group. The school’s founder, a […] Read More

2014: Robert Reich: Why Is the Government Subsidizing the 1 Percent of Colleges?

What justifies so much government spending per student at private elite universities? Imagine a system of college education supported by high and growing government spending on elite private universities that mainly educate children of the wealthy and upper-middle-class, and low and declining government spending on public universities that educate large numbers of children from the working-class and the poor. You can stop imagining. That’s the American system right now. Government subsidies to elite private universities take the form of tax deductions for people who make charitable contributions to them. In economic terms a tax deduction is the same as government spending. It has to be made up by other taxpayers. These tax subsidies are on the rise because in recent years a relatively few very rich people have had far more money than they can possibly spend or even give away to their children. So they’re donating it to […] Read More