Boy @ The Window – 1st Anniversary!

April 17, 2014

Nope, no balloons or streamers for this one, the one-year anniversary since I put out the first e-book version of Boy @ The Window on Amazon Kindle. Yay, me! It’s been a pretty good twelve months, one of a few highs and a bunch of lows in selling and promoting the book, in moving forward with a plan, only to have tossed it aside for a new set of plans for the remainder of 2014 and 2015.

The bit of encouraging news — aside from some royalties for Boy @ The Window so far — is that there are a couple of places reviewing it now (finally), and I’m finally moving along with promoting the book. Beyond that, there are few things tougher psychologically than book promotions. This is why folks hire publicists — emotional distance can be helpful in reaching out to friends and strangers.

But, from the feedback (mostly through email and Facebook) I’ve gotten so far, people really like Boy @ The Window. Trust me, when a reader tells you they couldn’t put the book down once they started to read it, that’s an emotional boost! It’s part of what has enabled me to keep going on this venture into the cyclone of the publishing world.

I’ve planned for attending BookExpo America for the first time at the end of next month in New York. It’ll likely be a gigantic sea of authors, publishers, editors and others looking for an edge. I just hope that it’s worth the money I’m about to spend there.

One thing that I should note, though, as I continue to write on my blog and proceed with Boy @ The Window promotions. There are plenty of posts here that aren’t in the memoir, and plenty of stories in Boy @ The Window that I haven’t posted here. You can get some idea of what’s in the book from reading my posts, but it would be far from a complete picture. Buy a copy. Take it for a spin. It’ll make you laugh and cry, angry and hopeful, and all at times in the same paragraph.


Stinking Up The Joint

April 15, 2014

Pepe Le Pew stinking up the flowers, April 15, 2014. (Chuck Jones/WB, via http://www.animationartwork.com/). Qualifies as fair use because of picture's low resolution and related subject matter.

Pepe Le Pew stinking up the flowers, April 15, 2014. (Chuck Jones/WB, via http://www.animationartwork.com/). Qualifies as fair use because of picture’s low resolution and related subject matter.

Puberty is often a confusing and scatterbrained time even for the most well-adjusted of folks. Changes in body chemistry, hair growth, body parts, height, weight and sleep patterns are all part of this excruciating rite of passage. When thrown in with the realities of poverty and the cruelty of Humanities and Mount Vernon High School, puberty was also a long march of embarrassing moments.

One of my last embarrassing moment strictly thanks to puberty came around this time three decades ago. It was an unusually warm early April Tuesday in ’84, one in which I was hardly prepared. I’d just started using deodorant the year before, once spring had sprung in ’83, with basketball and softball as a regular part of gym class. In gym for ninth grade, we were in the swimming pool for March and April.

We just happened to be out of deodorant at 616 while I was in the midst of this class. It wouldn’t have been much of a problem, except for the fact that the cool weather of early spring had given way to a sudden heatwave, bringing temps into the upper seventies the second week in April. On that fateful Tuesday, I tried one of my Mom’s home remedies, and put a baking soda paste on my armpits, hoping to conceal my still new manly smell.

Well, it actually did work, at least from periods one through six. Then it was time for gym. I didn’t count on the fact that the high level of chlorine in the pool would completely wash away my makeshift deodorant. Nor did I consider that the swimming pool area would be about ten degrees warmer than it was outdoors. Nor did I think about the fact that we ordinary students weren’t allowed to shower after swimming or any other gym activity, for that matter. That was reserved for the school’s athletes — equipment must be protected from the “animals,” as some administrators and parents saw fit to describe us.

Speed Stick (green) deodorant by Mennen, 1980s edition (en Español), April 15, 2014. (http://www.b2bsupply.co/).

Speed Stick (green) deodorant by Mennen, 1980s edition (en Español), April 15, 2014. (http://www.b2bsupply.co/).

So, no deodorant, in a hot area of an already warm school with the air conditioning turned off, and with no opportunity to rinse off — what do you think happened eighth period? I went to Geometry class, completely unable to conceal my underarm stench. From about the second minute on, my equally sweaty classmates complained about “the smell” and “the stink,” all the while, fanning themselves with manila folders. Even with Mr. Louis Cuglietto’s windows open, it didn’t help — there was no wind to speak of.

But of all the sweat and smells, mine was the one that stood out most. Why? Because, despite it all, I remained an engaged student, and raised my right hand to answer questions. Which meant that I raised my right arm, and anyone within a six-foot radius could smell me. After ten minutes of complaints, I put my arms down, and held them close to my body for the remainder of class, looking forward to the end of the school day.

After class, Cuglietto pulled me aside to tell me, “You’re a man now. You need to get some deodorant,” as if he was offering sage advice or tough love. This wasn’t the first time Cuglietto played his version of poor assumptions about race, class and gender, and it wouldn’t be his last. I ignored him, and went on my way home.

But I didn’t stop there. I went over to Jimme’s on South 10th that evening. It was the middle of the week, a time of hungover sobriety for my father, which meant he would be home early from work. I bummed $20 off him while taking a stick of his surplus Speed Stick with me.

Is there a lesson here? Remember to keep deodorant in stock no matter what? Don’t swim with baking-soda-for-deodorant under your arms? That some teachers and classmates wouldn’t understand a moment of my life even if I passed it onto them like Brandon Lee’s character from the movie The Crow (1994)? That I was poor and in puberty, and things like this sometimes happen? Yeah, sure, I guess. The real lesson here is to remember, not for revenge or retribution, but so that younger others like me know that they’re not alone, so that the story can be told, later and better.


My Christianity at 30

April 8, 2014

The full prayer kneel, April 8, 2014. (Donald Earl Collins).

The full prayer kneel, April 8, 2014. (Donald Earl Collins).

No, today’s not my thirtieth birthday — I’m still forty-four and twenty months away from entering middle age. But, it has been thirty years since I converted to Christianity, two weeks before Easter Sunday ’84, sometime between 8:55 and 9 am. You could say — and many would — that this marks three full decades since my spiritual rebirth, a milestone as significant as my birthday on the final Saturday of the ’60s at Mount Vernon Hospital.

In many ways, it was a renewal, a reboot, a beginning of sorts. To claim control over my life and my destiny, at least, as much control as I could muster. In the past thirty years, the issues of control and perfection, faith, knowledge and wisdom, and the expectations I have of myself, my God and those who either don’t see God as real or as real to me have remained constants in my life.

Perhaps this has been because of how I became a Christian in the first place, a bit more than three months after an aborted suicide attempt on my fourteenth birthday. With my abusive stepfather Maurice and his insistence that we were Hebrew-Israelites, I couldn’t be open about my conversion or the thought and faith process that led me to Christianity. At least, I didn’t feel strong enough back then to be open about it. I remained a clandestine Christian for five months before I stood up to the idiot after my first day of tenth grade — my first time not wearing my kufi since sixth grade — and dared him to kill me. He didn’t, and it was my first full victory against my stepfather.

As for my classmates, the splits between the denominational Christian, agnostic, atheist and Nation of Islam sets were ones I’d become aware of long before my conversion. And, by tenth grade, it was obvious that many of my immediate Humanities classmates were about as accepting of the spiritual as Bill Maher and the late Christopher Hitchens. Maybe not openly so, but the barrier of intolerance and disdain was there.

Break the chains, April 8, 2014. (http://www.flrministry.com).

Break the chains, April 8, 2014. (http://www.flrministry.com).

Over the years, my walk with Jesus’ life, death and resurrection has grown more complicated, with euphoric highs, quiet lows, and periods of almost evangelical revival along the way. Still, I remain faithful, even as I remain disillusioned, about my life, humanity, the universe and the afterlife. I still pray, and believe that God listens to my prayers, but understand that prayer without action is tantamount to talking to myself. “Faith without works is dead,” is what the good book actually says. Unfortunately, there are way too many alleged Christians in exalted places and in positions of power who practice neither faith nor the works of Jesus. All they do is talk about their Christianity while acting like pagan Roman emperors.

I no longer welcome debate about what and in whom I believe. I find those who smirk and call my walk the equivalent of someone with a mental illness or an imaginary friend about as bigoted as a Christian who believes that all atheists are the sons and daughters of Satan. There’s a certain hubris in claiming the nonexistence of the spiritual because the people whom are representatives of the religious are themselves flawed and full of crap. Then, I guess, there’s a certain hypocrisy in the universe, in evolution, in all life, and I don’t think any of us have enough knowledge to be that cynical and nihilistic.

I no longer regularly attend church. I’ve been to at least a dozen churches in the DC area over the past decade and a half, and combined, I’ve gotten less out of all of those services than in one service I attended at my mother-in-law’s church in Pittsburgh last September. Heck, I’ve found more wisdom and compassion and realness in some of the courses I’ve taught than at most of these churches. Church is a place for fellowship with other Christians, but I have a hard time with my own contradictions, much less those of others.

Bertrand Russell wisdom quote, April 8, 2014. (http://izquotes.com).

Bertrand Russell wisdom quote, April 8, 2014. (http://izquotes.com).

For my son Noah’s sake, though, I want to find a place or two where we can feel comfortable exposing him to Christianity. Places where the hypocrisy quotient isn’t so high, and with the understanding that this is a long spiritual walk, not a magical carpet ride of infinite miracles and treasure chests full of gold. I’m tired of the megachurches, the Gospel of Prosperity, the overly emotional, the attempts to strangle human behaviors, and the endless predictions of apocalypse based on homophobia, misogyny, Whiteness, and a terrible understanding of history.

But I do have a one-on-one spiritual walk that’s mine, that no one — atheist or evangelical — can take away from me. It’s a walk that has taken me far from the despair and abuse of my youth, warts and all.


My First Mugging

April 3, 2014

New York mugging, Granger (1857), April 3, 2014. (http://chroniclevitae.com).

New York mugging, Granger (1857), April 3, 2014. (http://chroniclevitae.com).

This is another story not in Boy @ The Window, though it could’ve been. It was thirty-five years ago this week that a group of my preteen neighbors from the Pearsall Drive projects (now the Vernon Woods co-op community) jumped me on my way home from the store, beat me up and stole a grand total of four dollars. It seems like such a small thing now, getting mugged for the first time, a block from 616 East Lincoln, our apartment building on the eastern edge of Mount Vernon, New York. Still, I learned a few things on that first Saturday in April ’79 about myself, my older brother, my mother and humans in general, things that haven’t changed in the three and a half decades since.

That particular day was definitely a crisp early spring one, windy, partly sunny and cloudy, just warm enough not to need a winter coat. I’d barely been out the house at all since attempting to run away from home some four months earlier. In the months in between, I’d been engrossed in reading everything I could, especially World Book Encyclopedia, not to mention what I hadn’t already read in Charles Schulz’ Peanuts series.

I hadn’t been out the apartment to do much of anything other than go to school or to the store. So little was my time outside that when I had to do a full food shop, I’d forgotten a few basic rules about protecting myself. Like making sure that a group of nine-to-fourteen-year-olds weren’t following us home from the local grocery store. And making sure to take the most direct route home when I could, or a circuitous route home when necessary. Going west on the north side of East Lincoln, making a left on Station Place, then a left on Lafayette Avenue, then a final left on Bradley, walking four short blocks that would’ve left us in front of 616.

134 Pearsall Drive (now part of the Vernon Woods co-op complex), April 3, 2014. (http://trulia.com)

134 Pearsall Drive (now part of the Vernon Woods co-op complex), April 3, 2014. (http://trulia.com)

On this day, the circuitous route would’ve been better. But that would’ve meant me being better, too. I was already not feeling well when I left with Darren for the grocery store. I had a stomach ache, and the diarrhea that came with it. So my best bet was to go to the store at 671 East Lincoln with Darren, cross over to the south side of East Lincoln, and walk as quickly as we could back to 616.

Only, the half-dozen boys trailing me and Darren back home had crossed with us, and immediately tried to surround us near East Lincoln and Pearsall. Darren, to his credit, ran off for home, leaving me alone and holding two paper bags of groceries. Somewhere between “nigga” and “muthafucka” and “giv’ me the money,” I struggled and ran away with the groceries, where after a minute or two, I ended up in the bottom floor of one of the project buildings.

I was jumped again, punched in the face and the mouth until one of the wannabe thugs had busted my lip and left me bleeding down the side of my face. I somehow crapped on myself during the run, but hadn’t noticed because I was too busy trying to not get mugged. After they took the four dollars’ worth of change I had in my right pant pocket, another wannabe said, “Oh shit, the punk dukeyed on hisself!” They laughed and left me there, in this abandoned, junky apartment, garbage and groceries and two ripped grocery bags all over the room, bloodied and soiled.

I picked up all I could from what remained of the groceries and began the long one-block walk home. By the time I walked through the front door, there was my Mom, angry with me about the groceries. “What I’m gonna do with this!” she said. It was afterward that she noticed my condition. “You let them kids scare the shit out of you!,” she gasped with what seemed like a bit of laughter in her voice. I said, very angrily, “I told you before I left that I had diarrhea!,” then went into the bathroom and cried.

Oscar de la Hoya's face after his beat-down via Manny Pacquiao, December 6, 2008. (AP via http://boxingscene.com).

Oscar de la Hoya’s face after his beat-down via Manny Pacquiao, December 6, 2008. (AP via http://boxingscene.com).

My Mom came in later to help me wash myself down. In the meantime, I had a bruised left cheek, a busted lip, feces all over my lower body, and soreness all over my ribs and stomach. It took about twenty minutes in all, but by the time I was done and washed, I went into mine and Darren’s bedroom and fell asleep.

It was April 7, ’79, and I already knew that I couldn’t count on my older brother to help whenever there would be a crisis. I knew that my Mom cared about me, but apparently not enough to keep me protected. I knew that the assholes that lived around me wouldn’t have minded it if I’d been run over by a Mack truck, as long as they could get a dollar out of me. I knew, most of all, that I needed to look out for myself as much as I could, since there weren’t any cousins or other family around to look out for me.

So when at the end of ’83, the city had sold the projects at Pearsall Drive to a real estate developer, though I was sad for a few individuals, I wasn’t sad in general. Those wannabes had helped make one relatively small aspect of my life — going to the store, going outside and going to Wilson’s Woods — miserable. And with so much misery in my life already, I was glad to see many of those kids move away.


Bow Down to Isabel Wilkerson

March 27, 2014

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, front cover (2011), Random House.

Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns, front cover (2011), Random House.

I’ve finally read Isabel Wilkerson’s book The Warmth of Other Suns (2011) this month, just as I finished teaching a mini-course in post-1865 African American history. If I ever have the opportunity again to choose my own books for a survey-level course in African American history, this would be one of my cornerstone books. I know I stand at the back of a very long list when I say this, but this is a wonderfully powerful and insightful book, with language and a writing style equally as tender.

This was what I wrote regarding my first impressions on Goodreads.com:

My God – this book is a masterpiece! Wilkerson has done what historians and writers as diverse and groundbreaking as Kenneth Kusmer, David Levering Lewis, Joe William Trotter, Jr., Nicholas Lemann, Thomas Sugrue and James Grossman couldn’t (and in a couple of cases, wouldn’t) do. She put flesh, blood and bones on the Black individuals and families who migrated “up North” and out West throughout the bulk of the twentieth century. She didn’t distract with neo-Marxist, post-modern, post-structural, proletarian, or other overly academic theories for understanding the “hows” and “whys” behind Black migration between 1915 and the 1970s.

Reading Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns (2011) was like reading into my own family’s pasts (my mother and father came to New York City — specifically, the Bronx (Pelham Parkway and Wakefield) — during the 1960s from Arkansas and Georgia/Florida before moving to Mount Vernon). She captured so well the aspirations, the inspirations and the trepidations of the people who migrated, and the things they faced upon arrival. Wilkerson, most of all, grounded herself in the scholarly, but weaved it into a story that was nothing less than literary. If you’re a US or African American historian, a Black Studies, Black Women’s Studies or American Studies scholar, you must incorporate in your curriculum if you haven’t already. If you’re a writer who aspires to tell an important story — one that educates as it entertains — then The Warmth of Other Suns is a great place to start and Wilkerson a great writer to emulate.

Wilkerson called the Great Migration one of the great events of the twentieth century. But it was more than that. It was one of the great events in American history, a silent and gradual revolution on par with westward expansion and more significant than the second wave of immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe to the US between 1870 and 1914. I and millions of others like me should know. I wouldn’t be writing at all if I wasn’t a child of two Black migrants who left farms in the South for New York City.


Carnegie Mellon Stamp of Approval

March 17, 2014

Approved rubbed stamp in green, March 17, 2014. (http://depositphotos.com).

Approved rubbed stamp in green, March 17, 2014. (http://depositphotos.com).

Two decades ago on this date, I took my oral PhD comprehensive exam. It was on a cloudy Thursday, a day after a late afternoon shower had left a rainbow over the otherwise dreary campus. Like the day after that rainbow, the exam was anticlimactic, more indicative of what I’d learned in two years as a grad student at Pitt than in my two semesters at Carnegie Mellon.

Getting to this exam was sheer torture. Not because I didn’t understand historiography, or hadn’t read at least 230 books and countless articles since my first day of grad school. No, it was torturous because the powers that were had insisted to make my schedule more like the one of a first-semester grad student the previous fall.

I ended up with two courses that I didn’t want and didn’t need, especially since the History Department at CMU had told me that they had accepted all of my master’s and PhD credits from the University of Pittsburgh. Though I had taken four grad seminars in US history (not to mention CMU Professor Joe Trotter’s grad seminar in African American history the year before), I was taking a first-year student’s grad seminar in US history – again! I also had to take comparative working-class history seminar with a combination of anti-race Marxists and brown-nosing sycophants more interested in an A than in actual evidence-based historical interpretation.

Prostate exam from Family Guy (1999-2003, 2005-present) screen shot, July 17, 2013. (http://chattanoogaradiotv.com).

Prostate exam from Family Guy (1999-2003, 2005-present) screen shot, July 17, 2013. (http://chattanoogaradiotv.com).

That, and being broke for most of the ’93-’94 school year — I took what amounted to a $2,000 stipend cut in my transfer from Pitt to CMU — made me pretty cranky my first six months at the home of elitist lily-Whiteness. There were days in those courses where I wanted to literally strangle some of my fellow grad students for being so dense (in the case of first-years) or for being so obviously fake in their praise of a given professor’s argument (in the case of two sycophants in particular). Only the late Barbara Lazarus and Trotter kept me grounded enough so that I didn’t spend every moment of Fall ’93 making voodoo dolls out of Steve Schlossman and John Modell for putting me through the hazing process.

Somewhere around the beginning of November ’93 — after some much-needed time in prayer — I began to realize a few things. One, that I’d already done so much reading on topics like immigration, industrialization, slavery and the connections between race and class (and race, class and gender). So much so that unless it was an author of major interest, I could skim or skip the reading, or even find a few book reviews and compare them to my extensive library of notes on the other authors in a given subfield or field.

Two, that my time outside of class was still my time. I knew that I wanted to do multiculturalism as a dissertation topic, and that I wanted to do it in the context of Black Washington, DC. So I began ordering microfilm of Black weekly newspapers like the Washington Tribune and Washington Bee (going back as far as 1915) to look at as much material as possible. It calmed me to know that I was working on my dissertation topic nearly a year before Trotter and my committee would official approve it.

Three, I knew by January ’94 that Schlossman, et al. had agreed that the Spring ’94 semester would be my last one in coursework. I still had to take Modell’s goofy Historical Methodologies course, but having to do things like my oral comprehensives made going to class just bearable enough.

Acting a part quotes from actors, March 17, 2014. (http://thepeopleproject.com/actors/quotes).

Acting a part quotes from actors, March 17, 2014. (http://thepeopleproject.com/actors/quotes).

Finally, I took out a loan. I’d only taken out one student loan since finishing undergrad in ’91, but it was obvious I couldn’t live off of a $7,500-per-year stipend. Really, no one could, not without rooming with another student or having a spouse with a real income. The money came in at the beginning of March, making my march to become ABD that year that much easier.

By the time I walked into the second-floor conference room in Baker Hall to take my orals, I knew there wasn’t a question about what I knew and how well I knew it. It was about whether I could show the folks at CMU that I could play along with them in their version of grad school, which wasn’t any different from any other history doctoral program’s version. And I did play along, for two hours, more than long enough to move on to the dissertation proposal round.

When I said years later to my friend Laurell that Humanities and Mount Vernon High School had prepared me more for grad school than it did for undergrad at Pitt, this was what I meant!


My and Diane Ravitch’s Path to Reign of Error

March 11, 2014

Reign of Error (2013) by Diane Ravitch, front cover. (http://bn.com).

Reign of Error (2013) by Diane Ravitch, front cover. (http://bn.com).

I first began reading Diane Ravitch in July 1990, the summer before my senior year at the University of Pittsburgh. It was the summer in which I became interested in understanding magnet programs and their relationship with desegregation and diversity efforts, courtesy of my own experience with Mount Vernon, New York public schools and its now defunct Humanities Program. I read both The Great School Wars: New York City, 1805-1973 (1974) and The Troubled Crusade: American Education, 1945-1980 (1985) that summer, with education scholar and Ford Foundation director Jeanne Oakes’ Keeping Track: How Schools Structure Inequality (1985) sandwiched in between.

It was the beginning of a twenty-year period of constantly intellectual disagreement between me and Ravitch. Oakes’ work captured inequality in terms of race and socioeconomics so much better than Ravitch, whose writings back then often treated these inequalities and distinctions as afterthoughts. When I shifted my research area to multicultural education and multiculturalism, though, that was when I found Ravitch’s absolutist defense of so-called traditional American democratic education and all things e pluribus unum unbelievably stifling. With all Ravitch knew about the politics of education, in New York and with the US Department of Education, how could she possibly defend a system that did as much to control and exclude students as it did to provide something akin to an equal opportunity?

I chalked Ravitch up to being another out-of-touch neoconservative, scared to death of race and diversity and multiculturalism. I said as much at conferences like the American Educational Research Association meeting and other conferences. I wrote as much in my dissertation and in my first book, Fear of a “Black” America: Multiculturalism and the African American Experience (2004). Through it all, I always found Ravitch’s writing compelling, but her conclusions wanting, because they lacked perspective and empathy in the context of public schools and diversity.

Then, Ravitch wrote Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform in 2000. Though it contained some of her common themes — overemphasis on the mantra of reform, the need for more testing, support for school choice, denigration of a multicultural curriculum — Ravitch showed growth in this book. She was less hostile to a more progressive curriculum and seemed, for the first time, really, to understand how much race and poverty had shaped the direction and the harshness of school reform going back to 1900. I happily used Ravitch’s Left Back in my History of American Education Reform course at George Washington in 2002. For her book provided a comprehensive and even-handed overview of the politics of K-12 education in a way that any educator of any American ideological perspective could understand.

I’ve finally read Ravitch’s Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). Reign of Error is Ravitch at her most passionate and energized. If I hadn’t read a couple dozen of Ravitch’s articles from the 1980s and 1990s and four of her previous books, I would think that this was her first book, as there is sense of urgency in Reign of Error that can seldom be found outside of epic memoirs and epic fiction novels.

Ravitch’s argument in Reign of Error is a simple one. Corporate education reform, if allowed to continue unfettered, will destroy public education in the US, and in the process, American democracy. Privatizing public schools (i.e., turning them into “public” charter schools), destroying teacher’s unions, constant high-stakes testing, bypassing school boards and forgetting about racial segregation and poverty — that’s corporate education reform’s agenda. As Ravitch said in Chapter 12 on the fallacies of merit pay for teachers, “Merit pay is the idea that never works and never dies (p. 119).” She could have also substituted the words “school choice,” “creationism,” “standardized testing,” “closing schools,” and “privatization” for “merit pay.”

But Ravitch goes further in her 400-page treatise. That though public education in the US has had its share of problems — the need for more teacher training and time for professional development, racial segregation and high levels of poverty while underfunded — that corporate education reform has compounded these problems several times over. That with corporate education reform, teachers, parents and students will have no say in public education, at least the ones without their own personal foundation with which to endow their own public charter school.

From a writer’s standpoint, this wasn’t Ravitch’s best effort. Her argument is repetitive, one where she likely could’ve cut the main chapters by a quarter (about 100 pages) and made the same points. I likely could’ve become inebriated if I had a shot of vodka every time the words “poverty,” “Gates,” “Walton,” “Broad,” “high-stakes testing,” and “corporate education reform” come up. But given my history with reading Ravitch and with this topic, of course Reign of Error was repetitive — it was like reading my own words on this same topic.

Ultimately, Ravitch’s Reign of Error is a primer for anyone interested in averting the social injustice that is the corporate education reform tyranny of wealthy philanthropists, money-grubbing entrepreneurs and politicians across America’s limited ideological spectrum. For those whom up to now this issue has been of limited interest, or for those who’ve felt the change in public education but haven’t quite been able to articulate those feelings, Reign of Error is for you.

For educators, parents and even students already involved in writing about or protesting against corporate education reform, this book is still for you. Ravitch provides so much ammunition that Reign of Error can be applied in numerous ways to numerous situations. At school board meetings. With #AskMichelleRhee hash tags on Twitter. In job interviews with Teach for America and with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In letters to the editor of the mainstream newspapers and in comments to mainstream TV and radio newscasters. In arguments with neoconservative parents who send their kids to private schools.

“Protecting our public schools against privatization and saving them for generations of American children is the civil rights issue of our time (p. 325).” is how Ravitch ended her Reign of Error. It’s not an exaggeration. But it does beg a question. If we can successfully fend off corporate education reform — and assume that the country will continue to ignore the poverty and racial segregation that Ravitch desperately wants addressed — can she and I then spend five minutes discussing multiculturalism?


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 610 other followers