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Stuart Egan: What Frank Capra Could Teach Betsy DeVos About Public Schools

At the family Christmas dinner in New Jersey, someone asked the question, “What is the best Christmas movie of all time?” There were many suggestions, but the consensus was Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring James Stewart.

When I got home from dinner, I found Stuart Egan’s post about the film. It turns out that Bedford Falls High School plays a significant part. Frank Capra knew, and his audience understood, the central role that the town’s public school played in the life of the community. There was no talk of choice or accountability or data. Just an institution that bound together the life of the community.

I was reminded of Garrison Keillor’s great statement about these who dare to attack public schools:

“When you wage war on the public schools, you’re attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You’re not a conservative, you’re a vandal.”
― Garrison Keillor, Homegrown Democrat: A Few Plain Thoughts from the Heart of America

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Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. Her most recent book is Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.  Her previous books and articles about American education include: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform, (Simon & Schuster, 2000); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Knopf, 2003); The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (Oxford, 2006), which she edited with her son Michael Ravitch. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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