Monday, September 20, 2010

Ship of Fools

There's something symbolic about an organization like Education Nation, sponsored by NBC News, and anchored by BrianWilliams (who thinks it's his duty to listen to Rush Limbaugh).

Education Nation managed to put together a panel, publicly boast about it, and fail to show the remotest awareness it hadn't included a single teacher.  Over on Facebook they're facing a barrage of comments from people who've noticed what they've overlooked.  Here's their panel, though the last time I looked they seem to have honed it down, perhaps in response to the dozens of commenters who noted how one-sided it was:

Participants in the Education Nation Summit will include:

Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, City of New York
Geoffrey Canada: CEO & President of Harlem Children's Zone Project
Arne Duncan: US Secretary of Education
Byron Garrett: CEO of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
Allan Golston, President, US Program, The Gates Foundation
Reed Hastings: Founder & CEO of Netflix
Walter Isaacson: President & CEO of the Aspen Institute
Joel Klein: Chancellor of New York City Schools
Wendy Kopp: CEO and Founder of Teach for America
John Legend: Musician; Founder of the Show Me Campaign
Gregory McGinity: Managing Director of Policy, The Broad Education Foundation
Bill Pepicello, Ph.D.: President of University of Phoenix
Sally Ride: First Female Astronaut; Vice-chair of Change the Equation
Michelle Rhee: Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.
Margaret Spellings: Former US Secretary of Education
Antonio Villaraigosa: Mayor, City of Los Angeles, California
Randi Weingarten: President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT-CLO)

The last entry, perhaps, was a reluctant concession to the fact that teachers actually exist.  Of course, Ms. Weingarten also saw fit to invite Bill Gates to be the keynote speaker at the AFT convention, so perhaps she merited Bill's stamp of approval.  However, the AFT was also a prime contributor in unseating Michelle Rhee's boss.  With Rhee on the way out, and a slew of "reform" candidates just having lost at the polls last Tuesday, you'd think NBC would crawl on hands and knees to recruit Diane Ravitch, Leonie Haimson, Patrick Sullivan, or some other sane, knowledgeable person representing what actually happens in public schools.

No such luck.  After all, MSNBC is half Microsoft, and why should they speak up about anything of which Bill Gates does not approve?   If they aren't kowtowing to Gates, the Education Nation staff is uniquely unqualified to discuss education, let alone compose a panel.  The CEO of Netflix?  John Legend?  Why not Lady Gaga and the Spice Girls?  Why not Otto from Otto's Deli? What about the Archies?  Sure, they're cartoons, but they know as much about education as John Legend.

This is a one-sided hatchet job.  It's disgraceful and un-American that they'd set up a panel to whore the corporate agenda favored by Gates, Broad, and the Wal-Mart family.  It's chilling to imagine that a journalism organization could be so woefully uninformed that no one working there knows there is a reality-based side to this equation.

At times like these I recall being in East Berlin in 1984, where they sold Pravda on every street corner.  No one bought it, of course.  Sadly, with the advent of Fox News, the so-called "Education Nation," and the other nonsense taking place these days, we're not only buying it, but accepting it.

It's time to educate Americans, and it's time we realize the crisis is not in the classroom, but in the woefully inept media, typified by the clueless "Education Nation."
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