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Demonstrators hold signs outside the Dept. of Education on Feb. 9, 2017. (Photo: majunznk/flickr/cc)

Demonstrators hold signs outside the Dept. of Education on Feb. 9, 2017. (Photo: majunznk/flickr/cc)

Harvard Shames Itself by Staging a Koch-Sponsored Betsy Lovefest–No Dissenting Voices Allowed

At conference called “The Future of School Choice,” there is nary a critic of this radical rightwing agenda

Diane Ravitch

 by Diane Ravitch's Blog

The Program on Education Policy and Governance at Harvard University has always been pro-school choice, pro-charters, pro-vouchers.

But now the PEPG–headed by the General of the School Choice Movement Paul Petersen–has outdone itself.

It is staging a two-day celebration of Betsy DeVos and the Trump agenda of public school-bashing, funded by the Koch Brothers and other rightwing foundations.

There is nary a critic of this radical rightwing agenda, not as a presenter or a panelist.

The conference is called “The Future of School Choice.”

The Charles Koch Foundation is a major funder, but after it became clear that his name was embarrassing, it was removed from the list of sponsors.

How shameful that Harvard would lend its name to a one-sided effort to cheer on the destruction of public education and would give a platform to a woman with no academic credentials.

As the writer for the New Republic, Graham Vyse, points out, the Harvard Institute of Politics invited Sean Spicer and Corey Lewandowski to accept fellowships, so the University apparently has low standards.

Apparently Jeff Sessions is about to give a speech about “free speech” in which he will decry “political correctness” on campus, meaning I assume the refusal to debate issues.

Do you think he will single out Harvard’s PEPG for refusing to hold a debate about the future of school choice and excluding those who recognize the civic importance of public education and the failure of charters and vouchers to live up to their claims?

I’m not holding my breath.

I am adding Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance to this blog’s Wall of Shame for its failure to permit even the most minimal expectations of academic and scholarly fairness, and for turning itself into a propaganda mill for the privatization movement, at the behest of Big Money.


© 2021 Diane Ravitch
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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