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

“There’s no more time for tinkering around the edges.”
—Betsy DeVos, 2018 “Rethink School” tour

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 its 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 of the dismantlers and how it fits into the current political context, 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. Finally they look forward, surveying the world the dismantlers threaten to build.

As teachers from coast to coast mobilize with renewed vigor, this smart, essential book sounds an alarm, one that should incite 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.

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 vigorous, well-informed broadside against the marketization of the education system in the U.S.”
Kirkus Reviews
“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
“An excellent choice for teachers to understand the politics of their profession, and for people committed to supporting and improving public education.”
Booklist
“[A Wolf at the School House Door] is the book that everyone you know who’s even remotely interested in education policy needs to read.”
Forbes
“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

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.

Goodreads Reviews