The Finnish Way of Public Education

These answers to questions about public education in Finland are from Pasi Sahlberg, Director General of the National Centre for International Mobility and Cooperation in Helsinki, Finland, and adjunct Professor at the University of Helsinki and at the University of Oulu. This article was originally published on Pasi Salhberg’s blog on 9 April 2012. Continue reading “The Finnish Way of Public Education”

More Evidence that Private Schools Do No Better than Public Schools

The Dutch education system provides fertile ground for comparing the results of public and private schools. The Netherlands has the largest private school sector of any country in the world with 72% of secondary school students attending government funded private schools. If private schools produce higher education outcomes than public schools as the advocates of the privatisation of education claim, then The Netherlands is the country where this should be happening. But, apparently this is not the case. Continue reading “More Evidence that Private Schools Do No Better than Public Schools”

Public Education Should be Free, Even for the Well-Off

Advocates of the privatisation of public education want a user-pay system in government schools. They reject the basic principle of free, universal provision. Their strategy is to get an initial breach of the principle of free education with means-tested fees for the well-off. Continue reading “Public Education Should be Free, Even for the Well-Off”

The Myths of Waiting for “Superman”

The Davis Guggenheim directed documentary Waiting for “Superman” is currently on preview in Australia and is due to be released in early March. The film has generated enormous controversy about the picture it presents of public education in the United States. It tells the story of five children who enter a lottery to gain entry to a charter school. Charter schools in the US are privately operated schools funded by government. They are seen as a source of competition to improve public education in the US.

The following is a summary of a review of the film published in the New York Review of Books by Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University, former US Assistant Secretary of Education under George Bush Snr and author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System. Continue reading “The Myths of Waiting for “Superman””

We Need Public Education

I think that public education is a fundamental institution in our democracy. Free public education—open to all, free to all, controlled by democratic means—is a central promise of our democratic society. Its purposes are civic, not just utilitarian; it exists to strengthen our democracy and our society. I believe it is wrong to privatize it. We must continue to have schools that are the center of their communities, where children are students, not products, and parents are citizens, not customers.

There is a strong rationale for public support of public education. As Robert Hutchins once wrote, they are part of the res publica, the public thing. Like public parks, public libraries, and fire departments, they are part of our communal responsibility. We must strengthen them, make them far better than they are now. To blame them for all the ills of our society, for all the demographic changes of the past generation, for all the burdens imposed by courts and legislatures, is wrong. To destroy them would be a civic crime.

From Diane Ravitch, We Need Public Schools and Democratic Governance

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Impassioned Call to Defend Public Education

This is an edited version of an impassioned call to defend public education by Diane Ravitch, Professor of Education at New York University, former US Assistant Secretary of Education and author of the best-selling book The Death and Life of the Great American School System. The speech was delivered at the 2010 Representative Assembly of the US National Education Association in New Orleans on 6 July 2010. Continue reading “Impassioned Call to Defend Public Education”

Another Study Shows that Charter Schools do no Better than Traditional Public Schools

Yet another report has found that charter schools in the United States do no better in increasing student results than traditional public schools. It adds another layer to the accumulating evidence that charter schools are not the answer to better results. Continue reading “Another Study Shows that Charter Schools do no Better than Traditional Public Schools”