Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital (Part 3)

09/09/2011 10:39

Education and the Structural Crisis of Capital (Part 3)

The U.S. Case

John Bellamy Foster



The Education-Industrial Complex


The restructuring of public schools has given a big boost to the private education industry, which is now seen as a growth area, promising enormous profits. On May 16, 2011, reported that the “job market rockstar” after the health industry, since the onset of the Great Recession in late 2007, has been the education sector, which has added 303,000 jobs over the last four years, primarily in education services and state colleges.75


As early as 2000, Bloomberg Business Week issued a report on investment in education, which projected a general trend toward marketization and privatization of schools. Scott Soffen, an education analyst at Legg Mason, a global asset management firm, was quoted as saying that “the major competitor [of the private education industry] is the government, and over time the for-profit sector is going to consistently capture business from the government.”76


The education industry has naturally been a strong supporter of the new systems of high-stakes assessment and testing. In 2005 ThinkEquity Partners LLC published a report, New Industry, New Schools, New Market: K-12 Education Industry Outlook, 2005, for the Education Industry Association. It found that the education industry in 2005 represented “a domestic business opportunity in the [$500 billion] K-12 market” of “$75 billion, or 15 percent of all K-12 expenditures.” As a result of the new standards, testing, and accountability measures of federal and state governments, plus the growth of charter schools, the K-12 education industry was expected to grow to $163 billion (20 percent of the K-12 education market) within ten years. Already in 2005, K-12 purchases from the education industry included $6.6 billion on infrastructure and hardware, $8 billion on instructional content materials, and $2 billion on assessment (testing systems). Spending on technology—overlapping among the above categories since software is incorporated in instructional content—was estimated at $8.8 billion. The education industry report concluded that all of this reflected a much “deeper acceptance and integration of education and business.” All sorts of “new money paths” were opening up.


The companies most likely to benefit from the expanding-education-industry slice of the K-12 pie were large corporations, particularly Apple, Dell, IBM, HP, Compaq, Palm, and Texas Instruments (technology); Pearson, Harcourt, McGraw-Hill, Thomson, and Houghton Mifflin (instructional content); CTB McGraw, Harcourt Assessment, Thomson, Plato, Renaissance (assessment); and Scholastic, Plato, Renaissance, Scientific Learning, and Leapfrog (supplemental instructional content). A number of the smaller technology companies and up-and-coming supplementary instructional content firms were designated in the ThinkEquity K-12 education report as ripe for acquisitions. Indeed, the big instructional content companies were shown to be grabbing up smaller firms. Already nine companies accounted for 87 percent of the test market.77 Both computer hardware and assessment were viewed as rapid growth sectors.78


Noted educational researcher and critic Gerald W. Bracey issued a report in 2005, entitled No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go? focusing on the role of big capital, corruption, and kickbacks. Symbolic of the influence wielded by the private education industry was George W. Bush’s meeting, on his first day at the White House (only days before the unveiling of NCLB), with his close family friend and member of the Bush transition team, Harold McGraw III, CEO of McGraw-Hill. The Business Roundtable, representing two hundred of the largest U.S. corporations, was a strong supporter of NCLB. State Farm Insurance CEO Edward Rust, Jr., who orchestrated much of the Business Roundtable’s support for the NCLB, was simultaneously Chairman of the Business Roundtable’s Education Task force, a McGraw-Hill Board member, and a member of the Bush transition team. According to Bracey, the entire realm of the expansion of for-profit educational services under NCLB exhibited a “stunning double standard”—when “the feet-to-the-fire treatment of public schools” was “contrasted with the lax treatment of private corporations that provide materials or services the law requires the schools to use.”79


Education Beyond Capital80


The true nature of the struggle over schooling in the United States today is evident in the daily vilifying of teachers and teachers’ unions by the neoliberal school reform movement and the corporate media.81 Speaking to teachers in Chicago, Ravitch (who worked in both the George H. W. Bush and Clinton administrations and was originally a strong supporter of NCLB) declared:


Corporate School reform is a fig leaf for the real purpose: getting rid of unions. Corporate school reform calls on legislatures to roll back collective bargaining rights, get rid of unions. But once they’re gone, there is no one to speak for children, for working conditions….


Who applauds when schools are closed? Wall Street hedge funds, Democrats for Education Reform (wolves in sheep’s clothing), Stand for Children [which receives millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation], the Billionaire Boys Club (Gates, Walton, Broad), various Washington, D.C. think tanks, almost all of which are funded by the Gates Foundation, and influence many of the leading editorial boards. It’s a circular corporate reform movement. And I do want to say that whenever we speak of this education reform we label it correctly as corporate reform.82


The new capitalist-driven school reforms principally target teachers and their unions for a reason: teachers, as a rule (although often politically passive), strongly object to both the new corporate schooling being imposed on their students and the Taylorization of their own labor process. Teachers generally view themselves as educational professionals, but are today being rapidly proletarianized. Hence, they are the most powerful potential opposition to the school restructuring plan and the commodification of school children. For this reason, the new testing systems are aimed first and foremost at teachers. They are intended to be assessments, not primarily of the students themselves, but of the degree to which teachers have succumbed to Taylorization—and thus they constitute the main weapon in the attempt to wrest control of the practice of education from teachers. Duncan has on several occasions proclaimed that one of the main achievements of Race to the Top has been forcing states to abandon restrictions on using student-assessment tests to evaluate teachers.83 As Ravitch observed in The Death and Life of the Great American School System:


[Teachers’] unions have many critics, including some within their own ranks who complain that their leaders fail to protect teachers against corporate reformers….But the critics most often quoted in the media see unions as the main obstacle to education reform. They fault the unions for their resistance to using test scores to evaluate teachers. They want administrators to have the freedom to fire teachers whose students’ test scores do not improve and replace them with new teachers who might raise those scores. They want to use test scores as the decisive tool of evaluation.84


Here it is useful to return to the basic point—made in the 1970s in Bowles and Gintis’s Schooling in Capitalist America—that there is a rough correspondence in any given historical period between the social relations of production and the social relations of education. Viewed from this general political-economic standpoint, the conditions leading to the neoliberal assault on the schools can be attributed to the current historical period of economic stagnation, financialization, and economic restructuring, characteristic of the age of monopoly-finance capital. The slowdown in economic growth, beginning in the 1970s, weakened the capacity of labor to struggle by purely economic means, while also weakening workers’ political clout, as conservative, corporate forces strengthened their hegemony over the society. The relative growth of financial and information capital, spurred by the stagnation of production, created a new impetus for digital-based Taylorism and tight financial management in the schools. At the same time, inequality, poverty, and unemployment soared, as capital shifted the economic losses to the working class and the poor. When the new burdens resulting from slow growth, increasing inequality, and rising child poverty were coupled with tightened restraints on state spending, the schools went into a rapid downward spiral. Public schools, as the ultimate social safety net for most children and communities, were forced to step in to make up for the collapsing social and economic fabric.


With “the revolt of the haves” that developed in this period, the traditional local financing of schools based on property taxes eroded. States and the federal government were forced to take over the financing of the schools, local control was reduced, and a corporate-finance model came to dominate, along with traditional corporate management goals. The failure of the high-stakes testing and accountability to effect improvements, even in terms of their own narrow criteria, led to even more intensified attacks on teachers and teachers’ unions as the source of the problem. The bursting of the financial bubble beginning in 2007 and the Great Recession that followed further undermined schools and teachers’ unions, creating a generalized state of emergency.


Although the share of K-12 education in GDP rose slightly, to a seeming high watermark of 4.3 percent, in 2009, this did not reflect a greater overall commitment to education, but rather the relative weakness of the private economy in relation to government spending in the context of the Great Recession. More indicative of the deteriorating trend in education spending in this period is the fact that U.S. elementary and secondary education fell from 22.7 percent of total government spending in 2001, to 21.7 percent in 2005, and to 21.0 percent in 2009—with every indication that its share of total government expenditures is continuing to plummet.85


In this rapidly decaying situation, the attack on teachers and the destruction of their morale can be seen as fatal to the public education system, since teachers generally in capitalist society have sought to promote education (not mere schooling), out of a commitment to children, often in defiance of an alienated system. Teachers have adopted counter-hegemonic practices and upheld by sheer force of commitment, a collapsing school system that, without their often extraordinary efforts would surely have given way. Most teachers surveyed by the National Education Association in its most recent Status of the American Public School Teacher work at least ten non-compensated hours (beyond the standard 40-hour-work week) each week, and supplement classroom budgets/resources with their own purchases, averaging $443 a year.86 Without the strong social commitment of teachers, the overstrained public education system would surely have succumbed to its own contradictions long ago.


Most teachers, over the last few decades, have gotten used to being on the frontlines in dealing with the effects of economic crisis and class-race war on schoolchildren. The creation of a program of national assessment, aimed principally at teachers and teachers’ unions, with the goal of privatizing the education system and turning the mass of students into drones for industry has brought public education into the very center of the structural crisis of the system. Many teachers have been fired, while others have fled the dying public schools.


Given the effects of worsening socioeconomic conditions on public education, any reference to closing the achievement gap that does not centrally address the wider social problems and their effect on schools represents a cruel hoax. Summarizing the conclusions of decades of educational research in the Teachers College Record in 1995, Jean Anyon observed:


It has become increasingly clear that several decades of educational reform have failed to bring substantial improvements to schools in America’s inner cities. Most recent analyses of unsuccessful school reform (and prescriptions for change) have isolated educational, regulatory, or financial aspects of reform from the social context of poverty and race in which inner-city schools are located….The structural basis for failure in inner-city schools is political, economic, and cultural, and must be changed before meaningful school improvement projects can be successfully implemented. Educational reforms cannot compensate for the ravages of society.87


In the past few decades, the response of the nation’s overworked teachers to “the ravages of society” and the accompanying attacks on schools has usually been to use what energy they had on helping their students, while avoiding organized political activity. But this may be changing. Today political resistance around schools from teachers, parents, students, and community members seems to be emerging at long last in the United States—though it is too soon to know what this portends.


Already in 2010, Karen Lewis, a high-school chemistry teacher and the leader of the Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators (CORE), won an upset election to become president of the Chicago Teacher’s Union, deposing the two-time, old-guard incumbent. This emanated from a desire on the part of Chicago teachers, in Arne Duncan’s hometown, to fight for their jobs, working conditions, and the future of education for their students. CORE arose as a grassroots rebellion against Duncan’s Chicago “turnaround” legacy of school closings and the charterizing of schools. It therefore represents a turn away from a business union structure, toward a more politicized union.88


In April 2011, in Detroit, students protested to prevent the closing of the award-winning Catherine Ferguson Academy, a public school for pregnant teens and moms that boasts a 100 percent college acceptance rate in a district where one-third of all students do not even graduate. The protests gathered national attention after some of the students and their supporters, engaged in a peaceful sit-in, were arrested. Detroit as a whole is facing massive school closures at the orders of the emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools, Robert Bobb, a 2005 graduate of the Broad Superintendents Academy, who receives an annual salary supplement of $145,000, provided by the Broad and Kellogg foundations. It is not surprising that some have called Bobb’s management strategy “financial martial law”: in April 2011, all 5,466 of Detroit’s public school teachers were given layoff notices.89


The intense class struggle in Wisconsin in 2011, brought on by Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to eliminate public sector unions in that state, may mark a new stage in the conflict between labor-community and capital. In May 2011, as part of the general revolt against Walker’s actions, radical education activist, Bob Peterson, a fifth-grade teacher and a founding editor of Rethinking Schools, was elected president of the 8,000-member Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association.90


Throughout May 2011, students, parents, and teachers participated in national protests over the gutting of public education. On May 9, 2011, thousands of teachers, students, and supporters commenced a weeklong “State of Emergency” for public education in California. In a May 9 teachers’ protest at the state capitol in Sacramento, California, sixty-five students, teachers, and their supporters were arrested, followed by the arrest of a further twenty-seven on May 12, including the president of the California Teachers Association.91 The protests pointed to a student and teacher (as worker) alliance in this area that is particularly alarming to the powers that be.


In his May budget outline, California Governor Jerry Brown responded to these growing protests against the onslaught against the schools, in what may be a major departure, by indicating that he intends to put the brakes on out–of-control state testing. Brown declared: “Teachers are forced to curb their own creativity and engagement with students as they focus on teaching to the test. State and federal administrators continue to centralize teaching authority far from the classroom.” Brown says he intends to “reduce the amount of time devoted to state testing in schools” and to “restore power to school administrators, teachers and parents.” Brown is seeking to suspend funding for the state longitudinal data system for education (designed to integrate existing databases in order to facilitate the retention of long-term student assessment data), and to end all further planning for the accompanying teacher database. He had earlier declared, as California Attorney General, that the real problems affecting “‘struggling low performing schools’” are “deeply rooted in the social and economic conditions of the community.”92


The strategic goal of a resistance movement to public school privatization should not simply be to defend the existing school system—but to make use of this state of emergency to create the basis of a truly revolutionary approach to the education process, based in community schools. This could take place under the motto promoted by the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center in Detroit: Another Education is Possible. As Grace Lee Boggs has written, we need to engage our children in the community-building process, including education, “with the same audacity with which the civil rights movement engaged them in desegregation activities.” Radical education theorist Bill Ayers has called for rebuilding the model of “liberatory education” and freedom schools in defiance of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, rearticulating “the ideal that each human being is of infinite value.” This means emphasizing, as radical educators historically have, a process of self-engaged learning—recognizing, in line with Marx and Paulo Freire, that the answer to the question, “Who educates the educator?” is ultimately one of liberation pedagogy, in which the students themselves are the main protagonists.93


We have to understand this as part of a global struggle. The same corporate reforms of schooling are being exported throughout the capitalist world, Brazil, being but one example.94


The stakes are extremely high. In his article, “Why Socialism?” published in the first issue of Monthly Review, in May 1949, Albert Einstein wrote:


The crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system stems from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for a future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are organized by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.95


For Einstein, education and socialism were intimately, dialectically connected. Such a vision of education—related to social transformation and planning—meant that education needed, in his view, to be part of our whole lives, not confined to the realm of schooling.


I believe we must prepare ourselves today for a for a long revolution to create, among other things, a new education tied to community, and developing out of peoples’ real needs. Such a “community-centered and person-based” education, situated first in public schools, but extending into the society as a whole, is best achieved by creating the widest possible respect for education, as constituting, at one and the same time, a way of life, a key to human emancipation, and an indispensable basis for the creation of a world of substantive equality.96



  1. See John Bellamy Foster and Fred Magdoff, The Great Financial Crisis (New York: Monthly Press, 2009). A more complete view of the structural crisis of capital would have to focus on the fact that capital is pressing in all areas on its absolute limits, manifested in the growth of inequality (rather than substantive equality); the growing conflict between the state and the reproduction and preservation of the system; and its generation of a planetary ecological crisis. See István Mészáros, Beyond Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1995), 142-47.
  2. “Global Education Market,”, accessed May 15, 2011.
  3. Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America (New York: Basic Books, 1976).
  4. A quite different ethnographic approach to the way in which “working class kids got working class jobs,” was provided in Paul E. Willis, Learning to Labour (Westmead, England: Saxon House, 1977). On the general nature of the debate that arose within the sociology of education in relation to Bowles and Gintis’s work see David L. Swartz, “From Correspondence to Contradiction and Change: Schooling in Capitalist America Revisited,” Sociological Forum 16, no. 1 (March 2003): 167-86.
  5. Sherry Gorelick, “Undermining Hierarchy: Problems of Schooling in Capitalist America,” Monthly Review 29, no. 5 (October 1977): 20-36. See also Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Reply to Sherry Gorelick,” Monthly Review 30, no. 6 (November 1978): 59-64. Bowles and Gintis, it should be noted, have now abandoned in large part their original analysis, adopting more conservative views in line with a general change in their standpoint. Indeed, they moved gradually away from their original Marxism so that by 2001 their original views were hardly discernible in either tone or content. Compare Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Schooling in Capitalist America Revisited,” Sociology of Education 75, no. 1 (January 2002): 1-18. Bowles and Gintis now support both school vouchers and charter schools, which are part of the conservative educational reform agenda. See Swartz, “From Correspondence to Contradiction and Change,” 181; Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Efficient Redistribution,” Politics and Society 24, no. 4 (December 1996): 307-42.
  6. Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, 13, 48, 130-32; Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, “Prologue: The Correspondence Principle,” in Mike Cole, ed., Bowles and Gintis Revisted (New York: The Falmer Press, 1988), 1-4.
  7. Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, 48-49, 131.
  8. Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, 131-40. This tripartite division of labor markets was backed up by considerable empirical work, which evolved into segmented labor market analysis, developed by radical economists in the 1970s and ‘80s.
  9. Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1966), 309-10; “America’s Best Prep Schools,” Forbes, April 30, 2010.
  10. Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, 129.
  11. Richard Edwards, Contested Terrain (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 44; Richard Du Boff, Accumulation and Power (New York: M.E. Sharpe, 1989), 57-59.
  12. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1 (London: Penguin, 1976), 1023-25.
  13. See the analysis of Taylorism in Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998), 59-95.
  14. Raymond E. Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 54-79.
  15. Franklin Bobbitt, The Supervision of City Schools (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1913), 54-55, 89, 93-95; Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency, 87-93.
  16. Clarence J. Karier, “Testing for Order and Control in the Corporate Liberal State,” Education Theory 22 (Spring 1972), 158.
  17. Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency, 103.
  18. Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency, 100-01. On the abuses associated with IQ testing see Stephen Jay Gould, The Mismeasure of Man (New York: W.W. Norton, 1996), especially 85-90.
  19. Karier, “Testing for Order and Control,” 157-72; Bowles and Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America, 198.
  20. Jonathan Kozol, The Shame of the Nation (New York: Crown Publishers, 2005).
  21. Callahan, Education and the Cult of Efficiency, 121.
  22. John Dewey, Democracy and Education (New York: The Free Press, 1916), 51.
  23. Clarence Taylor, “Dreamers and Fighters: The NYC Teacher Purges,”, accessed May 24, 2011, and Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York Teachers Union (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011).
  24. National Education Association, K-12 Education and the U.S. Economy, NEA Research Working Paper, April 2004, 10.
  25. Children’s Defense Fund, State of America’s Children, 2010,, B-3; David C. Berliner, “Our Impoverished View of Educational Research,” Teachers College Record 108, no. 6 (June 2006): 958.
  26. Milton Friedman, Capitalism and Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 91. Charter schools were promoted initially by both liberals (including American Federation of Teachers President Al Shanker) and their more right-wing counterparts. It was the conservative, more market-driven model, geared to the privatization of schools, however, that increasingly came to define the charter school movement.
  27. National Commission on Excellence in Education, A Nation at Risk, April 1983,
  28. Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, “The History of School Privatization,”, March 15, 2011,
  29. On Kentucky see Edward B. Fiske, Smart Schools, Smart Kids (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1991), 62-69.
  30. Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System (New York: Basic Books, 2010), 15-21, 93-98, 104-05; Center for Educational Policy, “New Report Finds Nearly 38% of U.S. Schools Do Not Make Adequately Yearly Progress Under NCLB,” April 28, 2011, http:/ Diane Ravitch was originally a critic of the left in her Left Back (New York: Simon Schuster: 2000) for allegedly claiming that schools don’t matter, and has been accused by some on the left of helping to initiate the current conservative attacks on the schools. See Alan R. Sadovnik, “Waiting for School Reform,” Teachers College Record online, March 17, 2011,
  31. National Education Association, K-12 Education in the U.S. Economy, 10; National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, The Condition of Education, 2010, 288.
  32. William Mathis, “No Child Left Behind: Costs and Benefits,” Phi Delta Kappan 84, no. 9 (May 2003): 682; Stan Karp, “NCLB’s Selective Version of Equality,” in Deborah Meier, et al., Many Children Left Behind (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004), 63-64.
  33. Michael Bloomberg,” Forbes,
  34. Ravitch, Death and Life, 69-91.
  35. Ibid., 151-52.
  36. Alfie Kohn, “What Passes for School Reform: ‘Value-Added’ Teacher Evaluation and Other Absurdities,” December 27, 2010,
  37. Ravitch, Death and Life, 199; The Broad Foundation, “Our Approach to Investing: Venture Philanthropy,”, accessed May 17, 2011.
  38. Joanne Barkan, “Got Dough?: How Billionaires Rule Our Schools,” Dissent (Winter 2011): 50; Janelle Scott, “The Politics of Venture Philanthropy in Charter School Policy and Advocacy,” Educational Policy 23, no. 1 (January 2009): 120-21; Ravitch, Death and Life, 212, 217.
  39. Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, “Urban Education,”, accessed May 17, 2011.
  40. Scott, “The Politics of Venture Philanthropy,” 120; ThinkEquity Partners LLC, New Rules, New Schools, New Market: K-12 Education, Industry Outlook 2005. May 26, 2005,, 31.
  41. Parents Across America, “A Parent Guide to the Broad Foundation’s Training Programs and Education Policies,” April 19, 2010,; Barkan, “Got Dough?” 50.
  42. Ravitch, Death and Life, 213-17; Barkan, “Got the Dough?” 50.
  43. Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007).
  44. Seattle Education, “How to Tell If Your School District is Infected by the Broad Virus,” April 19, 2011,
  45. Ravitch, Death and Life, 202-03.
  46. Ibid., 219.
  47. “Grass-Roots School Advocates Backed by Gates,” New York Times, May 22, 2001; “Indianapolis Teachers Advocate for Immediate Layoffs to be Based on Effectiveness,” Teach Plus, February 10, 2011,
  48. “Teacher Education, STEM Washington and Bill Gates,” Seattle Education, March 22, 2011,
  49. Barkan, “Got Dough?”53-55.
  50. Barkan, “Got Dough?” 53-55; Susan Ohanian, “‘Race to the Top’ and the Bill Gates Connection, “ Extra! (September 2010),
  51. Gates Foundation/Mass Insight Education and Research Institute, The Turnaround Challenge, 2007,, 2, 26.
  52. Abigail and Stephen Thernstrom, No Excuses: Closing the Racial Gap in Learning (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003). See the critique of the “no excuses” ideology in Debra H. Meier, In Schools We Trust (Boston: Beacon Press, 2002), 145-46.
  53. Sanders quoted in Robert Holland, “How to Build a Better Teacher,” Policy Review, no. 106 (April 1, 2001),; James Samuel Coleman, et al., Equality of Educational Opportunity, U.S. Office of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 1966, vol. 1, 21-22. See the critique of Sanders in Richard Rothstein, Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic, and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap (Washington, D.C.: Economic Policy Institute, 2004), 13-17.
  54. Berliner, “Our Impoverished View of Education,” 951. Elizabeth Cohen, professor of sociology at Stanford, introduced the phraseology of poverty as “the unexamined 600-pound gorilla” of education in a speech at a conference organized by the U.S. Office of Education Research and Improvement in 1996. See Bruce J. Biddle, “Poverty, Ethnicity, and Achievement in American Schools,” in Biddle, ed., Social Class, Poverty, and Education (New York: RoutledgeFarmer, 2001), 3.
  55. Rothstein, Class and Schools, 1-2, 11; Berliner, Our Impoverished View of Education, 955-56.
  56. For a summary and critique of such “no excuses” views see Rothstein, Class and Schools, 61-83.
  57. See Meier, In Schools We Trust, 146.
  58. “Uplift Education” is a Charter Management Organization supported by the Dell Foundation.
  59. Gates Foundation, Turnaround Challenge, 16, 23, 27-28.
  60. Ravitch, Death and Life, 145.
  61. Danny Weil, “Disaster Capitalism: Revisiting the Charter Schooling and Privatization of Education in New Orleans,” The Daily Censored, May 16, 2010,; “Charter Schools’ Big Experiment,” Washington Post, June 9, 2008.
  62. Barbara Miner, “Ultimate Superpower: Supersized Dollars Drive ‘Waiting for Superman‘ Agenda,” October 20, 2010,
  63. Deborah Meier, “Looking at the Truth Without Flinching,” May 3, 2011,
  64. Miner, “Ultimate Superpower”; Nancy Hass, “Scholarly Investments,” New York Times, December 6, 2009; Miner, “Ulitmate Superpower.”
  65. Barbara Miner, “Ultimate Superpower.”
  66. Ravitch, Death and Life, 138-39; National Education Association, “Charter Schools,”
  67. Ravitch, Death and Life, 133-34.
  68. Jack Buckley and Mark Schneider, Charter Schools: Hope or Hype (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007), 85.
  69. Ravitch, Death and Life, 135-36.
  70. Brentin Mock, “The Myth that Charter Schools Have Saved New Orleans,” The Root, August 29, 2010,; “Children With Disabilities Face Discrimination in New Orleans Schools,” Southern Poverty Law Center, July 28, 2010,
  71. Gary Miran and Brooks Applegate, Teacher Attrition in Charter Schools, May 2007,
  72. George W. Bracey, The War Against America’s Public Schools (Boston: Pearson Education, 2003), 94.
  73. The School Administrator, “Charter Schools and Private Profits,” May 2000,; Bracey, The War Against America’s Public Schools, 100-36.
  74. Gary Miron, et al., Schools Without Diversity: Education Management Organizations, Charter Schools, and the Demographic Stratification of the American School System, Education Policy Research, Graduate School of Education, University of Colorado at Boulder, February 2010,
  75. “Where Jobs Are Booming,” CNN Money, May 16, 2011, These expectations, however, may be soured by the fact that public education spending, particularly K-12, is now weakening rapidly as a result of the Great Recession, economic stagnation, and cuts in state and local funding. “Growth in Education Spending Slowed in 2009,” New York Times, May 25, 2011.
  76. William C. Symonds, “Prognosis 2000: Education,” Bloomberg Business Week, January 10, 2000.
  77. George W. Bracey, No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go?, Education Policy Research Unit, College of Education, Arizona State University, June 2005,, 11.
  78. ThinkEquity, New Rules, New Schools, New Market, 2-18, 26-31.
  79. Bracey, No Child Left Behind: Where Does the Money Go? 18-19, 34, 41.
  80. This phrase is taken from István Mészáros, The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008), 248.
  81. This attack on teachers can be seen in the prologue to the book accompanying the film Waiting for Superman. In the nine-page prologue, three pages, a third of the whole, is devoted to vilifying teachers and teachers’ unions. See Karl Weber, Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Schools (New York: Public Affairs, 2010), 5-8.
  82. Diane Ravitch Stirs Overflow Crowd in CTO Lecture,” Substance News, March 13, 2011,
  83. Arne Duncan, “A Conversation with Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education,” Council on Foreign Relations, October 19, 2010,
  84. Ravitch, Death and Life, 177.
  85. National Education Association, K-12 Education in the U.S. Economy, 10, Table 2.1; Bureau of Economic Analysis, National Income and Product Accounts, Table 3.15.5 (Government Consumption Expenditures and Gross Investment by Function), and Table 1.1.5 (Gross Domestic Product).
  86. National Educational Association, Status of the American Public School Teacher, 2005-06 (March 2010),, 54 (Table 29); Wisconsin Education Association Council, ”Despite Long Hours and Low Pay, Teachers Love Their Profession,”, accessed May 30, 2011.
  87. Jean Anyon, “Race, Social Class, and Educational Reform in an Inner City School,” Teachers College Record 97, no. 1 (Fall 1995): 69, 88.
  88. “A Cauldron of Opposition in Duncan’s Home Town; Rank and File Teachers Score a Huge Victory: An Interview with Karen Lewis and Jackson Potter,” Rethinking Schools 25, no. 1 (Fall 2010): 12-17.
  89. Beenish Ahmed, “Fighting School “Closures in Detroit,” American Prospect, May 3, 2011,, Detroit Students Occupy Catherine Ferguson Academy High School,”; “Robert Bobb, Broad Superintendent Class of 2005,” July 9, 2010,
  90. “Activist Will Lead Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association,” Journal Sentinel, May 22, 2011,
  91. Alice Mercer, “California Teachers Declare a State of Emergency,” Labor Notes, May 19, 011,; Beenish Ahmed, “Fighting School Closures in Detroit,” American Prospect, May 3, 2011,
  92. Anthony Cody, “California Governor Puts the Testing Juggernaut on Ice,” May 18, 2011,
  93. Grace Lee Boggs, Bill Ayers in Julia Putnam, et al., Another Education is Possible (Detroit: James and Grace Lee Boggs Center, no date), 39, 66, 70; Karl Marx, Early Writings (London: Penguin, 1974), 422; Paulo Freire, The Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York: Seabury Press, 1970).
  94. “Firms Open Alternatives to Weak Brazilian Schools,” Washington Post, April 21, 2011.
  95. Albert Einstein, “Why Socialism?” Monthly Review 1, no. 1 (May 1949): 14.
  96. See Mészáros, The Challenge and Burden of Historical Time, 237, 248; Grace Lee Boggs, The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the Twenty-First Century (Berkeley University of California Press, 2011), 140.