A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door

The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School

A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door (2020, New Press, The)

256 pages

English language

Published March 16, 2020 by New Press, The.


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3 star (1 review)

A trenchant analysis of how public education is being destroyed in overt and deceptive ways—and how to fight back

Betsy DeVos may be the most prominent face of the push to dismantle public education, but she is in fact part of a large movement that’s been steadily gaining power and notching progress for decades—amassing funds, honing their messaging, and crafting policies. While support for public education today is stronger than ever, the movement to save our schools remains fragmented, variable, and voluntary. Meanwhile, those set on destroying this beloved institution are unified, patient, and well-resourced.

In A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider, co-hosts of the popular education podcast Have You Heard, lay out the increasingly potent network of conservative elected officials, advocacy groups, funders, and think tanks that have aligned behind a radical vision to unmake public education. They describe the dogma underpinning the work …

Frustratingly Binary

3 star

If you listen to the Have You Heard podcast, this book is going to be super predictable. It focuses largely on the GOP's push to dismantle US public schooling, and it focuses on Betsy DeVos more than anyone else. While DeVos definitely was responsible for harming schools, this has been a long process that has taken place over decades. It's frequently bipartisan, too.

The book has a strong liberal-conservative framework. Because of this, it smashes a lot of people into the same categories for the same reason without actually understanding the nuance behind beliefs. For example, they keep saying that people who want to dismantle public schools do so because they want to generate profit! Well, that's not true when you include people who want to dismantle public schools because they see school abolition as being part of the path to justice and freedom.

There's a lot of scare quotes …