Mar
02
2011

Teach for America Is Great Because It's Great

Richard Cohen recently (FAIR Blog, 2/15/11) took to the Washington Post to argue that Teach for America is wonderful because…. Well, it just is. He predicted that the "best teacher in America" is likely to be drawn from the ranks of the program, which draws recent graduates from elite universities into the teaching profession. His only evidence of the greatness of this scheme was that the program is very competitive. On Sunday, George Will joined Cohen in praising Teach for America–more evidence, if any was needed, that TFA enjoys a great ride in the corporate media. In Will's column, was […]

Feb
15
2011

Richard Cohen's Teach for America Column Deserves a Failing Grade

Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's Teach for America column today (2/15/11) demonstrates a real problem with logic. "Cut Teach for America Funding and We'll Be Closer to Flunking the Future," declares the headline, with Cohen kicking things off this way: The best teacher in America was in Washington over the weekend. So was the best principal. I cannot name these individuals because they are early in their careers, and the truth of the matter is that I am just playing the odds. They are members of Teach for America, a kind of Peace Corps for the school room–a program so […]

Feb
14
2011

WaPo on Obama Budget: 'Countering' Conservatives by Doing What They Want

On Sunday (2/13/11), the Washington Post had an odd piece about Obama's budget proposal–starting with the odd headline, "Obama to Propose Spending Cuts in Budget Plan Aimed at Countering Conservatives." Republicans have been stressing spending cuts, so Obama is "countering" that with… spending cuts? Huh. The piece tries to argue that these calls for austerity are merely the political system reacting to the will of the voters, particularly self-described independents: Obama is sending a similar message, but to a different constituency: the independent voters who abandoned Democrats in droves last year and who are crucial to the president's 2012 reelection […]

Feb
08
2011

LAT Invents Support for LAT Series on Teacher Testing

The L.A. Times' controversial investigation last year that rated Los Angeles schoolteachers' effectiveness based on a value-addedresearch methodhasfaced a storm of criticism. (See Wayne Au's recent Rethinking Schools piece.) Now the National Education Policy Center has weighed in, finding that the research "was demonstrably inadequate to support the published rankings." The NEPC was covered in the Washington Post and, wouldn't you know it, the Los Angeles Times. Below are the headlines. Go ahead and guess which one is which. Researchers Fault L.A. Times Methods in Analysis of California Teachers Separate Study Confirms Many Los Angeles Times Findings on Teacher Effectiveness

Nov
10
2010

The Media/Education Reform Revolving Door

New York City school chancellor Joel Klein is stepping down to take a job with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, and will be replaced with Cathleen Black, chair of Hearst Magazines. Though Black has no experience with education and Klein had none going in, I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense that the current pro-testing, anti-teacher educational fads be administered by executives connected to corporate media, where such nostrums are wildly popular. The irony, though, is that if you had to pick one institution that is a bigger failure at educating the public than the school system, you'd have […]

Oct
29
2010

David Gregory Loves Michelle Rhee, Hates Criticism

Alan Suderman at Washington City Paper (10/28/10)caught NBC host David Gregory moderating an education event at a Washington hotel, where the Meet the Press host lavished praise on controversial former D.C. schools chancellor (and media darling) Michelle Rhee: Before we begin, we have Chancellor Michelle Rhee here, and I just want to say publicly what I say privately, which is, thank you for what you've done, thank you for your commitment, for your leadership, for your stick-to-it-ness and for the result that you have achieved. Washington, D.C., will miss you greatly…. But your commitment to kids and to education endures, […]

Oct
18
2010

NYT Investigation: Union Leader NOT Satanic Beast

Readers of Saturday's New York Times may have noticed thisthis piece (10/16/10): Despite Image, Union Leader Backs School Change By TRIP GABRIEL In "Waiting for Superman," the new education documentary, the union leader Randi Weingarten is portrayed, in the words of Variety, as "a foaming satanic beast." At a two-day education summit hosted by NBC News recently, the lopsided panels often featured Ms. Weingarten on one side, facing a murderer's row of charter school founders and urban superintendents. Even Tom Brokaw piled on. The article actually doesa pretty good of explaining how Weingarten and others in the union movement have, […]

Sep
24
2010

Unsurprising Raves for 'Waiting for Superman'–a Big-Screen Version of Media's Education Spin

The media accolades that have greeted the new documentary Waiting for Superman confirm what FAIR documented in the September issue of Extra!–that the corporate media debate over education "reform" is heavily tilted in the direction of those who bash teachers' unions, cheer the White House's Race to the Top grants and charter schools, and lionize "reformers" like D.C. schools chief Michelle Rhee. Dana Goldstein's review of the film in the Nation (9/23/10) is worth reading. As she puts it right at the beginning: Here's what you see in Waiting for Superman, the new documentary that celebrates the charter school movement […]

Apr
22
2010

'The Money Is Not There' for Education, NBC Says–So Where Did It Go?

Brian Williams introduced a report on NBC Nightly News (4/21/10) with this declaration: "Public schools from coast to coast in this country are looking at tens of thousands of layoffs, a lot of them teachers, because the money is not there." Correspondent Ron Allen went on to report: In Springfield, Illinois, thousands of teachers turned out to try to save their jobs and programs; music, art and sports activities all being threatened with elimination. Many school districts are hoping for federal stimulus help, but in the meantime are locked into longer teacher contracts and higher salaries for tenured teachers. Some […]

Mar
09
2010

Newsweek Wants Accountability for Teachers, Not Editors

Newsweek devotes several pieces this week to public schools. But the lead piece, "Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers," by Evan Thomas and Pat Wingert, lays out the magazine's skewed vision: Teacher unions protect the worst performers, while charter schools offer an easy solution. ("In the past two decades, some schools have sprung up that defy and refute what former president George W. Bush memorably called 'the soft bigotry of low expectations.'") Newsweek even finds the silver lining in Hurricane Katrina: It is difficult to dislodge the educational establishment. In New Orleans, a hurricane was required: Since Katrina, New Orleans […]

Feb
05
2010

CNN: Secretary Duncan Right to Celebrate Katrina

At the end of January, Obama education secretary Arne Duncan told a cable news show (TV One's Washington Watch, 1/31/10), "I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina." In reporting on Duncan's remarks, the January 30 Washington Post apparently couldn't find anyone to challenge the notion that Katrina was a good thing. CNN aired a segment the same day featuring guests Roland Martin, a CNN regular and the host of Washington Watch, theprogram where Duncan made the remarks in question; and CNN education contributor Steve Perry, a magnet school founder, champion […]

Jul
25
2009

Textbooks as Weapons in Texas' 'Education War'

The United Farm Workers have a new action alert (7/24/09) about "an education war going on in Texas" they note has "major national implications as Texas is such a major purchaser of textbooks and their state's required curriculum drives the content of textbooks produced nationwide." Specifically, "the Texas State Board of Education is currently preparing to adopt new social studies curriculum standards" informed by certain "experts" who are arguing that the state's social studies and history textbooks are giving "too much attention" to some of the most prominent civil rights leaders in U.S. History, namely Cesar Chavez and Thurgood Marshall. […]

Jul
17
2009

Va. Daily Confesses Racist Role in 'Dreadful Doctrine'

Editor & Publisher is running a wire item (Associated Press, 7/16/09) on the Richmond Times-Dispatch's recent front-page editorial and website video "expressing regret for supporting the state's fight to maintain separate schools for blacks and whites in the 1950s." The paper's confession of its "central role in the 'dreadful doctrine' of Massive Resistance–a systematic campaign by Virginia's white political leaders to block school desegregation"–functions as testament to both their current integrity and one of the darkest episodes of U.S. journalism. Here's an except: Fifty years ago Virginia had a rendezvous with destiny and came up wanting. It scorned human rights […]