Though money will inevitably keep free-falling into the pockets of school vultures, there is some hope as the showdown between reformers and their beaten-down detractors shapes up. A November New Yorker profile of Ravitch, for one, introduced the notion of impugning charters and the like to a legion of lefties that, until recently, has had little exposure to opposition viewpoints. With new eyes on her blog, more attention is already being paid to behemoths like MCS Pearson, which spends about $1 million a year lobbying Congress, and in 2011 made $4 billion scoring exams, selling textbooks, and providing other North American school services.

It should be an interesting, if not frightening debate to follow, as people on both sides of the war for the soul of education, divided as they are, agree that something must be done to improve public schools across the board. The billion-dollar question up ahead, it seems, is just how public those schools will actually be.


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