Education reform? Or “reign of error”?

I yet to read this work by Diane Ravitch, but I encourage everyone to read this excellent review written by Professor Bob Mann of LSU. My rearing instilled the necessity to try and see things from multiple perspectives, especially the one most directly opposite my own. Symptoms of problems are often so easy to see that the root is overlooked, and a focus on the symptoms can become akin to trying to patch a leaking water tower with chewing gum. It’s a quick fix, but the problem remains and will get worse if ignored.


I brag and feel blessed by all that I learned growing up in the Hungarian Settlement in Livingston Parish. I’ve asserted many times that my Grandfather without any formal schooling and my Dad with his diploma from Hammond High School was in the case of Grandpa and is with Dad as intelligent as any of the PhDs, MDs, or JDs with whom I have worked and know from different schools including Johns Hopkins and Ivy League Institutions.


In Albany and over in Springfield, we had some highly qualified teachers K through 12. What made it work, however, was that our teachers actually knew us and our families. They cared because they were a part of the community just as we were. The residents of those small communities cared about the schools as the school held a prominent position. You respected the teachers, the principals, and anyone who worked at the school. We knew our classmates and tried to help each other when we could.


The teachers knew their material, but they and the community took responsibility for being these lanterns for us kids so that we could see pathways and opportunities which would have remained hidden in the darkness. Then as we struck our own lights to venture forth on these passageways those lanterns behind us did not go dark. They continued to shine, and we received encouragement by words and often by either a pat on the back or when appropriate and necessary a swift kick in the rear. The adults cared and that resulted in the kids caring.


Every accomplishment I have made in my career was possible in part from the efforts of those back in the Hungarian Settlement. I thank the Good Lord for the public school system I experienced. Of course there were problems and I am not blinded by sappy nostalgia to not acknowledge that all was not a “bed of roses” without hazards, but the positives outweighed the negatives and often when I got stuck by a thorn it was through my own lack of action and my responsibility.

Something Like the Truth

By Robert Mann

Like so many business leaders, the Indiana ice cream executive was sure he knew what ailed his state’s education system. Schools weren’t being run like corporations.  “If I ran my business the way you people operate your schools,” Jamie Vollmer told a group of teachers in 1991, “I wouldn’t be in business for long.”

Vollmer explained that schools, themselves, were antiquated and that educators were loath to accept accountability for their actions. His proposal: ruthlessly operate schools the way he ran his business: “Zero defects! TQM [total quality management]! Continuous improvement!”

In a remarkable new book on U.S. education “reform” — Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Schools — Diane Ravitch tells what happened next.

When he finished his speech, a teacher innocently asked about his company’s method of making the best ice cream.  He boasted of its “super-premium” ingredients…

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