The Nation Magazine Attacks ‘So-Called Education Reform’

By Mark Walsh — October 01, 2014 1 min read
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The Nation magazine comes out swinging in its special issue on education.

“The havoc wreaked by so-called education reform has had the upside of crystallizing a movement of parents, teachers, school staffers and kids who are fighting for education justice,” the venerable left-wing magazine says in an editorial in the issue dated Oct. 13.

“The strategies pursued by education reformers frequently dovetail with those of austerity hawks,” the editorial continues. “The latter burnish their conservative credentials by cutting budgets and defunding schools. The reformers sweep in to capitalize on the situation” with charter and online schools, the magazine says.

The special package includes an array of pieces, including a meaty excerpt from Dana Goldstein’s new book, The Teacher Wars, about the 1968 Ocean Hill-Brownsville teachers’ strike in New York City; a related piece by Michelle Fine and Michael Fabricant about the uneasy alliance between teachers’ unions and “communities of color"; and an adaptation from Diane Ravitch’s blog critical of New York City charter advocate Eva Moskowitz.

Gordon Lafer reports on efforts by “corporate lobbyists” to promote “a type of charter school that places an emphasis on technology instead of human teachers.” Pedro Noguera hammers charter schools, which he contends are “stunningly opaque, more black boxes than transparent laboratories for education.”

And the special issue’s lead piece featuring original reporting is Daniel Denvir’s look at the Philadelphia public schools, which he says are being suffocated by state budget cuts and conservative and “reform"-group support for independent charter schools in the city.

Over at This Week in Education, Alexander Russo sees The Nation special issue as another sign that school reform critics have an “advantage in access” to media over moderate reform advocates, who “rely almost entirely on occasional efforts in traditional mainstream journalistic outlets like Slate, The New Republic, [The New York Times] Sunday magazine and the daily papers but lack moderate or centrist versions of the liberal-leaning outlets like Mother Jones, Jacobin, The Nation, The Washington Monthly, City Paper (DC), and The American Prospect.”

He certainly makes it sound very easy for advocates (pro-reform or not) to work their perspectives into the pages of today’s media.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.