Another academic lashes out at ‘School Inc.’ documentary

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A former assistant secretary of education is criticizing the public TV documentary School Inc. as “paid propaganda.”

School Inc. is produced by the libertarian-leaning Free To Choose Media and presented by WNET in New York City. The documentary features filmmaker Andrew Coulson profiling educational systems in the U.S., South Korea, Sweden, India and Europe and focusing on their innovations in school reform. PBS Plus is offering the film.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Diane Ravitch, a research professor of education at New York University, argues that the documentary “does not search for the truth. It does not present opposing points of view. It is an advertisement for the demolition of public education and for an unregulated free market in education. PBS might have aired a program that debates these issues, but School Inc. does not.”

Ravitch wrote that she’s also troubled by the project’s underwriters. The lead funder, she writes, is the Rose-Marie and Jack Anderson Foundation, “a very conservative foundation that is a major contributor to the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, which advocates for vouchers.” The Friedman Foundation is now EdChoice.

In a response to the Washington Post, a PBS spokesperson wrote in part that “within this series, there are comparisons and criticisms of both public and private education models.”

WNET also aired an interview with Ravitch about her views on the film.

The film also came under fire from another education academic last month.