Michael Gecan

How Predatory Reformers Are Destroying Education and Profiting at Our Children's Expense

Several months ago, on a damp gray afternoon, I found myself sitting in a coffee shop in downtown Racine, Wisconsin, just a few blocks from the Lake Michigan shoreline. That weekend a colleague and I would be conducting a leadership training session with teachers, parents, and community leaders, and I thought I’d get a feel for Racine during my visit. I was the shop’s sole customer. Main Street was nearly deserted. Now and then, a single car or passerby would appear. The city has a busy and curious past: it was a destination for New England Unitarians and record numbers of Danes; residents were staunch opponents of slavery and set up safe stops along the Underground Railroad; reportedly one of the world’s first cars was built there in the early 1870s; malted milk and the garbage disposal were invented and produced there. But signs of that history were nowhere to be found. The city has lost 16,000 occupants since 1970, when 95,000 people lived there.

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