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 […]
Who gets to speak about what schools need?
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 […]
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 […]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The Stupak Amendment, a last-minute addition to the House’s recently passed healthcare reform plan, would severely restrict abortion coverage for those on the “public option” part of the plan and those buying private insurance using government money. Many House Democrats journalists and pundits have portrayed Stupak as a sacrifice that must be made to get healthcare reform. Reproductive health advocates and many others differ. We’ll talk with Jodi Jacobson, editor of the RH Reality Check website. Also on CounterSpin today, there's a lot of talk in the media about education reform. That can mean […]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Charter schools raise a lot of concerns for educators interested in the future of truly public education; the corporate press have tended more toward boosterism of charters and their high profile promoter, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. That's the subject of a story in the current issue of Extra! and CounterSpin discussed the phenomenon on the occasion of Duncan's nomination with education expert Alfie Kohn, author of The Schools Our Children Deserve, among other titles. We'll hear that conversation with Alfie Kohn this week. Also on the show: Press handling of the arrest of […]
Covering the official spin on education 'reform'
There was something particularly Timesian about the New York Times’ response to an important new study on charter schools—public schools that operate under special rules, seen by some as the main engine of reform for a fundamentally dysfunctional educational system and by others as a thinly veiled effort to drain resources from existing public schools and disempower teachers’ unions. The paper demonstrated both its blinkered deference to official spin and the so-called “liberal” media’s desire to have it all ways editorially, earning conservative credits for supporting “reform” while attaching a fig leaf of concern for any harmful fallout. The peer-reviewed […]
Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: "Obama May Have To Wait for Health Reform" explained one July 22 headline. Leave it to corporate media to take a life-and-death issue for millions of Americans and reduce it to an item on a president's wish list. But if they're going to mainly cover healthcare policy as inside the Beltway politicking, how good a job are they doing even of that? We'll hear from activist and author David Swanson about the current state of play in healthcare reform efforts and what the media may have to do with it. Also on the show: […]