Sep 01 2010

Media’s Favorite School ‘Reformer’

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee

After Washington, D.C., Mayor Adrian Fenty pushed for a mayoral takeover of the city’s school system and dissolved the school board, he chose a relative unknown to take charge. But it wouldn’t take long before she would become a national media darling. Fenty’s pick was Michelle Rhee, a Teach for America graduate who had taught for only three years at urban schools in Baltimore before founding a non-profit organization, The New Teacher Project (TNTP), where she spent the next 10 years. Under Rhee’s leadership, TNTP promoted the idea that since good education came from good teachers, the way to improve […]

Sep 01 2010

Knowledge Is Power-and So Is Ownership

This section was originally printed with Media’s Favorite School ‘Reformer’. The national charter school network KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) is frequently cited by media as an example of the cure for what ails the country’s schools. Few outlets are more zealous in this regard than Newsweek, which makes it noteworthy that KIPP’s D.C. branch boasts as a boardmember Donald Graham, chair of the Washington Post Co., owners of Newsweek until August 2010. (Also on the 12-member D.C. board are David Bradley, owner of the Atlantic, and Suzanne Clark, president of the National Journal Group.) Some of what Newsweek has […]

Sep 01 2010

‘Race to the Top’ and the Bill Gates Connection

Who gets to speak about what schools need?

Race to the Top (RTTT), announced by President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 24, 2009, is a $4.4 billion grant program generating more conversation than its relatively small money amount might suggest. What has people talking is its competitive structure that forces cash-strapped states to make radical changes in education in order to stay in the running—changes a National Research Council report (10/7/09) warned were not backed by research. Instead of dispersing grant money on the basis of greatest need, RTTT chooses a few winners based on the degree to which the states deliver what […]

Sep 01 2010

First, Bash the Teachers

Media find a scapegoat for educational failure

Writing on the Wall Street Journal editorial page (10/1/09) under the headline “How Teachers Unions Lost the Media,” two education writers praised the press for turning on teachers, showing a “new attitude” that is in sync with today’s politics: Editorial pages of major papers nationwide have begun to demand accountability for schools, despite objections from vested interests. Since the Obama administration took an unexpectedly tough line on school reform, the elite media response has been overwhelmingly positive. But it’s hard to imagine that many people who follow the media would consider this much of a surprise. In fact, one of […]

Sep 01 2010

FAIR Interview with Jonathan Kozol on media and education:

‘A Deeper Truth Than Newspapers and Networks Are Likely to Provide’

Few have championed the rights of children or humanized the need for decent, equitable education like author Jonathan Kozol. In a wide-ranging interview with FAIR’s Steve Rendall, Kozol discussed media coverage of the system’s problems and the radical potential of education. The following is adapted from that conversation.   On the state of education policy The most alarming news regarding public education in America is that the White House, under Barack Obama, has continued most of the benighted policies of the Bush administration, and many of its proposals are likely to worsen those positions. First of all, we’re still faced, […]

Sep 01 2010

Teach for America’s Opaque Agenda

Journalist Barbara Miner confronts a media darling

Photo Credit: Teach For America

Teach for America is Exhibit A for the corporate media’s notion that an army of talented teachers stands waiting to take on the most difficult schools—if only the unions would get out of the way. The Peace Corps-modeled project in which college graduates do two-year stints in low-income schools has been a feel-good media topic since the group’s 1990 founding by young Princeton grad Wendy Kopp. But where does TFA really fit in the debate over education reform? What happens when reporters try to find out? In an interview with CounterSpin (4/16/10), Barbara Miner of Rethinking Schools differentiated between Teach […]

Jul 02 2010

Nancy Altman on deficits and Social Security, Alfie Kohn on education

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: a special look at two issues that seem to bring out the worst in the corporate media. First up, the deficit. Worrying about the budget deficit is a corporate media staple, so President Obama’s deficit commission must appear a godsend. Early reports are that Social Security cuts, another media obsession, have become the commission’s main focus. Somewhat tellingly, the commission has announced that it will not be reporting on its recommendations until after the November elections. We’ll talk about the President’s commission, social security, public opinion and the media, with Nancy Altman, the co-director […]

Apr 16 2010

Ben Lilliston on genetically engineered foods, Barbara Miner on Teach for America

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: A New York Times report gives the impression that the debate over genetically engineered foods is largely over; the paper’s writeup of new research says that, despite some caveats and critics’ warnings, GE crops are good for the environment and the economy. Others come away with more questions than answers though. We’ll hear from Ben Lilliston of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Also on CounterSpin today: On the surface, Teach for America sounds like a great idea: sending bright young college grads into needy schools to teach. But there’s much more to […]