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NEPC’s June Education Interview of the Month: Teacher Strikes, Philanthropy, and Public Education

BOULDER, CO (June 16, 2020) – In this month’s NEPC Education Interview of the Month, NEPC Researcher Christopher Saldaña interviews Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University and the co-founder of the Network for Public Education, about her new book, Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools.

In Slaying Goliath, Ravitch argues that the effect of the most recent teacher strikes was to change the narrative about K-12 public education in the United States. She explains that where educational policy had become fixed on the idea of high-stakes accountability and school choice, teacher strikes shifted the policy conversation toward reforms such as smaller classes that center on the needs of children.

Ravitch believes the teacher strikes, along with the COVID-19 pandemic, have highlighted the importance of K-12 public schools and the need for adequate school funding. The importance of schools, Ravitch argues, is evidenced in the role schools and teachers have played both historically and during the pandemic, from supporting parents during distance learning to ensuring that children have adequate food and shelter during the crisis. Ravitch does caution, however, that the pandemic will open policy opportunities for advocates of privatizing public schools, particularly those interested in expanding the role of technology in classrooms.

Nevertheless, Ravitch remains hopeful that K-12 public schools will come out stronger in the aftermath of the pandemic. She encourages philanthropists to shift their priorities away from funding their agendas to funding the agenda of communities – for instance, returning the arts to schools, reducing class size, eradicating the school-to-prison pipeline, and expanding mental health resources. She also encourages federal policymakers to return educational policymaking to the principles of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, whose purpose was to provide additional resources for America’s most vulnerable children.

Don’t worry if you miss a month. All NEPC Education Interview of the Month podcasts are archived on the NEPC website and can be found here.

This concludes our NEPC Education Interview of the Month series for the academic year. Please tune in next September for more smart, engaging conversations about education policy.

The National Education Policy Center (NEPC), a university research center housed at the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education, produces and disseminates high-quality, peer-reviewed research to inform education policy discussions. Visit us at: