Essential Reading | Book Review


Diane Ravitch’s Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools

Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America's Public SchoolsIn these dark days of Trumpism, reasons for optimism are the spars to which the rest of us, the passengers on the now disastrously helmed ship of state, attempt to cling. Diane Ravitch’s new book, Slaying Goliath is such a spar. It’s a celebration of those who have pushed back against the oligarch-led disruption and attempted privatization of our preK-12 educational system. But it’s more than just a lot of cheering stories (though it is that, and we need those; reading this, you will find yourself cheering again and again). It’s also, effectively, a manual for the Resistance, a how-to book detailing a way forward not only for parents and teachers but for workers generally (and so, like classrooms themselves, it has profound import beyond the classroom). And, of course, the book is imbued with the defining style, wit, intelligence, courage, compassion, and moral clarity we’ve come to associate with the de facto leader of the Resistance to privatization and oligarchy, Diane Ravitch. In stark contrast to, say, our Narcissist-in-Chief part-time President, Ravitch doesn’t speak to promote Ravitch. The greatest leader in the Democratic Resistance Movement not touted and thanked in this book is Diane Ravitch herself. So, let me do that here. Thank you, Dr. Ravitch, for all that you do, every day, because you give a damn about kids and parents and teachers and workers and democracy.

Like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Silent Spring, Slaying Goliath is one of those books that can make important change happen. Tremble, oligarchs, for our Jeanne d’Arc, our Boadicea, our David is in the field, and millions are ranged behind her, not many millions of Gates or Koch or Walton or DeVos dollars, mind you, but millions of teachers and students and parents and others who care about public schools and other democratic institutions. As Ravitch explains in this book, education disruption and deformation and devolution of schools (so-called “Education Reform”) is not a real movement. It depends entirely upon paid, Vichy collaborators with a handful of profiteering oligarchs in the Billionaire Boys and Girls’ Club. But that makes it all the more insidious, pernicious, dangerous.

We are in a phase transition, like a pot of water just before it starts boiling. Or, to change the metaphor, there’s a war going on to determine whether the United States (and other countries), in the future, will

instantiate a New Feudal Order of oligarchical command, coercion, and control*


revive its democratic institutions, flourish free, and prosper.

This book is the chronicle of the beginnings of that war for democracy, of the many battles the good guys have won recently, and an explanation of how we’ve won those battles and can win the war. It’s an inspiring, moving work about teachers in the street and in the statehouse–teachers teaching other workers how democratic change, real change, is made. Ever the historian, but here treating very recent history (and history makers!), Ravitch details in this book an important piece of the current phase transition. And like all truly great historians, she presents the vivid, concrete facts, not a lot of blithering generalities. It is a mark of Ravitch’s keen intelligence that the generalizations she does present–her roadmap to a better world in the making–are earned, are so clearly won.

Need a shot of optimism for the future? Find it here.

Why the optimism? Well, read the book and find out. It’s the most important reading you will do this year.

*An attempt to create a national curriculum gatekeeper, a Curriculum Commissariat and Thought Police, is coming soon from the oligarchs and their sycophantic, toadying, dependent minions–paid bobblehead politicians, judicial and bureaucratic wind-up figures, and Vichy collaborators in think tanks where thinking tanks; be warned. If you care about democracy, kill that beast in its cradle.

This post is hereby released into that beautiful place, the Commons, the Public Domain. Feel free, without changing its wording, to copy and disseminate it. (Please do!) When possible, please include an attribution to its author. Thank you!

Buy the book here:

For more by Bob Shepherd on Education “Reform,” go here:

A good place to start:


For more by Bob Shepherd (including cartoons!) on the Trump misadministration, go here:


About Bob Shepherd

interests: curriculum design, educational technology, learning, linguistics, hermeneutics, rhetoric, philosophy (Continental philosophy, Existentialism, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, epistemology, ethics), classical and jazz guitar, poetry, the short story, archaeology and cultural anthropology, history of religion, prehistory, veganism, sustainability, Anglo-Saxon literature and language, systems for emergent quality control, heuristics for innovation
This entry was posted in Ed Reform, Teaching Literature and Writing, Trump (Don the Con). Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Essential Reading | Book Review

  1. Pingback: Bob Shepherd Reviews “SLAYING GOLIATH” | Diane Ravitch's blog

  2. Pingback: Reviewing a Review: Annie Murphy Paul on Diane Ravitch’s Slaying Goliath | Bob Shepherd | Praxis

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