Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Schoolhouse Shams: Myths and Misinformation in School Reform

My book, Schoolhouse Shams: Myths and Misinformation in School Reform, has just been published by Rowman & Littlefield Education (www.rowman.com).

"Peter Downs takes the reader into the heart of the school reform debate–the people, the policies, the decisions–to understand the complexities and contradictions of what is really at stake in the school reform debate. 

Drawing on a decade of evidence, Schoolhouse Shams provides a serious warning about the costs of neoliberal educational reforms, a critique important for urban school districts around the nation," says Rebecca Rogers, associate professor of literacy and discourse studies, University of Missouri St. Louis.

Each chapter takes an in depth look at a sham claim made by some of the loudest voices in the big money school reform industry:
• Desegregation destroyed our schools;
• Testing is the answer to everything;
• Reading is the basis of all learning;
• Teaching means not worrying about what students understand;
• Public schools are too wasteful;
• Private enterprises always are better than public enterprises;
• Shopping will improve schools;
• Democracy ruins schools;
• Justice has no place in education; and
• It's all about the children.

"Downs's [book] should serve as a warning to all elected school board members that political considerations and privatization efforts are a threat to democratically elected boards of education. What happened in St. Louis could easily happen in any community,” says William Purdy, sixteen-year elected member and former president, St. Louis Board of Education.

The book examines how the myths and misinformation used by well heeled “reformers” led to the tanking of public education in St. Louis, Missouri, and how the same myths and misinformation are being used by similar “reformers” in other school districts around the country.

"Peter Downs has written a provocative, informative, and timely book about school reform in St. Louis. Its lessons apply to many cities undergoing similar reforms today," says Diane Ravitch, research professor in education at New York University, Brown Chair in Education Policy at Brookings Institution, and author of The Death and Life of the Great American School System.

I hope you will take a look at it.


Peter Downs

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