Sep
01
2010

Letters to the Editor

Concern for Kindle I love Extra!, but I have a concern with the August 2010 cover. Having the titles of the three main articles appear inside the Amazon Kindle leads the reader to assume, as I did, that the articles are critical of Amazon’s book reviewing, Amazon stealing literature from the public and Amazon’s profits and propaganda. I love Amazon and was disappointed when I saw this cover. I went on to read the articles and was pleased that they were not an attack on Amazon. But I was then confused as to why you would have set the titles […]

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

Tea Party vs. U.S. Social Forum

Mass movements that matter for media—Round 2

When it comes to covering activist gatherings, corporate media have established clear standards: Numbers don’t count nearly as much as politics do. Last fall, when tens of thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists and their allies marched on Washington in a grassroots rally for equality, media gave it far less coverage than the similarly sized, largely corporate-funded Tea Party protest in Washington just a month earlier (Extra!, 12/09). So it came as little surprise that the Tea Party Convention this February would get more coverage than the June U.S. Social Forum, five days of strategizing, organizing and activism […]

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

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 […]

Sep
01
2010

Soundbites

How Not to Report on the Estate Tax Under current law, after a one-year suspension, the federal estate tax rate will return to its pre-2001 level of 55 percent, with the first $1 million exempt. Sens. Blanche Lincoln (D.-Ark.) and Jon Kyl (R.-Ariz.) have proposed a change that would lower the rate to 35 percent and raise the exemption to $5 million. This would save millionaires $440 billion in its first decade (Center for Budget & Policy Priorities, 4/10/09), and add the same amount to the federal deficit. How did Reuters (7/14/10) report on this massive transfer of wealth to […]

Sep
01
2010

Right-Wing Tilt on Sunday Morning

The conservative records of talking-head lawmakers

Keith Poole--Photo Credit: UC San Diego

Lawmakers talking about U.S. policy issues are the bread and butter of the Sunday morning news shows—NBC’s Meet the Press, ABC’s This Week, CBS’s Face the Nation and Fox News Sunday. An Extra! study of the lawmakers who appear on these shows finds they have voting records that tilt to the right. Extra! studied the guests on these four programs from January 25, 2009—the first show after Obama’s inauguration—until April 25, 2010, more than a year into his administration. Guests who were current members of the Senate or House of Representatives, or former members since 2001, were tallied by voting […]

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, […]