A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door

The Dismantling of Public Education and the Future of School

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

“A powerful analysis of the predatory, profit-seeking forces that threaten our nation’s public schools. . . . If you care about the future of our society, read this book.”
—Diane Ravitch, author of Slaying Goliath and Reign of Error

In the “vigorous, well-informed” (Kirkus Reviews) A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door, the co-hosts of the popular education podcast Have You Heard expose the potent network of conservative elected officials, advocacy groups, funders, and think tanks that are pushing a radical vision to do away with public education.

“Cut[ing] through the rhetorical fog surrounding a host of free-market reforms and innovations” (Mike Rose), Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire lay bare the dogma of privatization and reveal how it fits into the current context of right-wing political movements. A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door “goes above and beyond the typical explanations” (SchoolPolicy.org), giving readers an up-close look at the policies—school vouchers, the war on teachers’ unions, tax credit scholarships, virtual schools, and more—driving the movement’s agenda.

Called “well-researched, carefully argued, and alarming” by Library Journal, this smart, essential book has already incited a public reckoning on behalf of the millions of families served by the American educational system—and many more who stand to suffer from its unmaking. “Just as with good sci-fi,” according to Jacobin, “the authors make a compelling case that, based on our current trajectory, a nightmare future is closer than we think.”

Praise

“Schneider and Berkshire make a persuasive case that public education is under serious threat. Parents, teachers, and progressive policy makers will learn much from this well-documented account.”
Publishers Weekly
A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door is meticulously researched, illuminating, and timely, offering badly needed context for our contemporary debates about what public education is for and who it should serve. The forces looking to destroy public education have a recognizable strategy in their crusade to privatize and demolish; this is the playbook we need if we are going to join together and fight back.”
—Noliwe Rooks, chair of Africana Studies, Brown University, and author of Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education
A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door charts the steady undermining of the notion of education as a public good to be supported by public money, which has only exacerbated the educational divide between the haves and the have-nots. Forces are prepared to finish off public education once and for good, using pandemic-driven shortage of resources as the ultimate rationale. Scary stuff.”
—John Warner, Chicago Tribune
“This book is critical reading for anyone hoping to understand the complex of forces joining to ‘disrupt’ education, as well as understanding where they came from, how they got here, and why this moment in history is different from all those that came before.”
—Peter Green, Forbes
“Their insightful analysis and synthesis will tremendously contribute to the education and political science literature and beyond. This is a book for parents, teachers, and others who commit themselves to improving public education and care about the future of the American society.”
—DongMei Li, Teachers College Record
“ A vigorous, well-informed broadside against the marketization of the education system in the U.S.”
Kirkus Reviews
“How did the once-fringe quest to turn public education into a profit-making industry get so close to wrecking our schools? Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire pull back the curtain on the right-wing ideologues, billionaire donors, and for-profit entrepreneurs who have masked their true purposes well enough to ensnare many who should know better. Read this keenly argued and convincing book to understand that if we lose our public schools, we lose the ‘we’ of ‘We, the People.’”
—Nancy MacLean, author of Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America
“[A] well-researched, carefully argued, and alarming book.”
Library Journal
“Our public schools, imperfect as they are, remain the best opportunity we’ve got for a more just and equal society. Philadelphia was able to beat back almost two decades of privatization and austerity because parents, educators, and youth formed a united front. By taking on these wildly unpopular attempts to destroy public education, we build not just a stronger and more responsive school system but a better democracy. This book is an urgent guide for the battles to come.”
—Helen Gym, member, Philadelphia City Council
“Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire’s A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door is not science fiction, but it could be the premise for a good film. The book asks us to imagine a future in which the growing movement of school privatizers in the United States totally have their way. Just as with good sci-fi, the authors make a compelling case that, based on our current trajectory, a nightmare future is closer than we think.”
—Jon. K. Shelton, Jacobin
“In this eminently readable book, the authors describe the ‘unmaking’ of public education and the players behind this effort. They explain how the attacks on public schools are part of a larger effort to shrink government and in general what the public expects from the public sphere. . . . Schneider and Berkshire demonstrate that attacking public education has also torn at the social fabric of America.”
—Wendy Lecker, Stamford Advocate
“An excellent choice for teachers to understand the politics of their profession, and for people committed to supporting and improving public education.”
Booklist
“Jack Schneider and Jennifer Berkshire offer a powerful analysis of the predatory, profit-seeking forces that threaten our nation’s public schools. As they show, the old ideas of the radical right are more dangerous than ever, and are advancing more rapidly than we realize. If you care about the future of our society, read this book.”
—Diane Ravitch, author of Slaying Goliath and Reign of Error
“A scholar and a journalist combine their considerable skills in this book to give us a clear-eyed, searing indictment of the privatizing and profit-seeking threats to our schools. Schneider and Berkshire cut through the rhetorical fog surrounding a host of free-market reforms and innovations—from vouchers to virtual learning—to expose a strategic and terribly dangerous undermining of public education.”
—Mike Rose, author of Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education

News and Reviews

Washington Post

Read an excerpt from A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door in Answer Sheet, the Washington Post’s education blog.

New York Times

Read the op-ed “How DeVos May Have Started a Counterrevolution in Education” by co-authors Jack Schneider and Jennifer C. Berkshire in the New York Times.

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Read a feature of A Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Books by these authors

The Education Wars
A Citizen’s Guide and Defense Manual

Jennifer C. Berkshire, Jack Schneider

Goodreads Reviews