Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Challenge to Charlie Rose

This is the email message I sent to on March 25, 2009. It was cc’ed to Michael Getler, the ombudsman for the Public Broadcasting Service, in the comments form provided on the PBS website.

Title of message: Question re: series of conversations about the “crisis” in public schools

Dear Mr. Rose and staff,

Last summer you initiated a series of conversations, underwritten by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, about the “crisis” in our public schools.

In the past nine months, it appears you have had three of these full-hour conversations: Wendy Kopp (with Bob Wise on 7/1/08), Michelle Rhee (7/14/08), and Arne Duncan (3/11/09). Have I missed anyone?

As a longtime viewer, I am extremely disturbed that you are now limiting your education interviews to pro-charter school forces only. This clearly reveals a problem with your journalistic standards.

I am even more disturbed, but sadly not surprised, to find that the funding for these interviews is being provided by a pro-charter school organization, The Broad Foundation. Either you have not researched how this organization is influencing the public’s view of charter schools, or you are intentionally delivering their propaganda to the American public.

The so-called “success” of charter schools has not been consistently and objectively confirmed, and is still being actively debated. A number of studies and well-respected individuals in the field of education believe that the claims of charter school success are grossly misleading. Of course, their message is not being widely heard because it they do not have the funding provided by billionaires Broad, Gates, and the Walton family.

Another widespread and serious concern about the proliferation of charter schools is their potential for transferring the control of one of our largest public institutions into corporate hands. This portends a dangerous and undemocratic future for our nation. Please become aware of this fact!

You may, or may not, be aware that pro-charter school related propaganda, so much of which we see in the media these days (interviews, books, and newspaper articles about charter schools, KIPP schools, Teach For America, etc.), is heavily funded by The Broad Foundation. The Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation are intensely pushing charter schools on the American public, and funding vast amounts of their propaganda, too.

There are many people who have been investigating and tracking this phenomenon for some time now. All arrows surrounding today’s so-called “education reform” movement point back to Eli Broad. This is one individual who has manipulated his way into determining the future of our nation’s public education system. Many, many knowledgeable people are fearful of his intentions, and with good reason.

Eli Broad is most definitely the locus for the pro-charter movement. He has leveraged himself through his activities at The Broad Foundation, which includes a superintendents’ training program (, “Wanted: The nation’s most talented executives to run the business of urban education”), by manipulating the selection of school district leadership, by manipulating for the programs he conceives and supports to be implemented, and by other under-the-public-radar maneuvers. His wishes have a direct line to Joel Klein of NYC public schools, Michelle Rhee of DC public schools, Jack O’Connell of the state of CA public schools, and many, many more. These people are all in bed together, and have been put in that bed by Eli Broad.

Here is a list of non-Broad-connected, highly esteemed education experts, to which Mr. Rose should also give airtime:

  • Linda Darling-Hammond, the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education at Stanford
  • Deborah Meyer, senior scholar at the Steinhardt School of Education at New York University (last interviewed by CR on 5/15/95, a 14 minute minute interview)
  • Richard Rothstein, research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and Sachs Lecturer at Teachers College, Columbia University
  • David Berliner, Dean and Regents' Professor College of Education Arizona State University
  • Jim Horn, Associate Professor at Cambridge College
  • Susan Ohanian, teacher and author of books including "Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?"
  • Jonathan Kozol, is a non-fiction writer, educator, and activist (last interviewed by CR on 11/16/95, a 10 minute interview)

Here is a list of readings that will provide alternative-to-Eli-Broad point of views. They will get you started with learning the true scope of this “education reform” movement.

Today’s public school crisis is not the crisis you describe. Please do deeper investigation, and then present more objective information to your viewers.


Sharon Higgins

Oakland, CA


The Perimeter Primate said...

Another good guest would be Alfie Kohn, author and lecturer who has explored a number of topics in education, parenting, and human behavior. He is considered a leading figure in progressive education and has also offered critiques of many traditional aspects of parenting, managing, and American society more generally, drawing in each case from social science research. (Wiki blurb)

The Perimeter Primate said...

And of course, Charlie must get Diane Ravitch, historian of American education and research professor of Education at New York University.

The Perimeter Primate said...

I wish I had used the phrase "pro-charter/Education Equality Project aligned forces" in this letter.

Anonymous said...

Good job!

It's really feeling like a David and Goliath situation lately, with Public Schools being a David without even a slingshot!

Why is it so hard to get mass-numbers of teachers together to puch-back?

We've got to try.

I'm with you, PP.


caroline said...

If the broadcasts were underwritten by the Broad Foundation ("Broad"casts -- cute -- except that the name Broad rhymes with "toad"), don't even pretend to expect objective reporting.

As a mainstream media veteran, I can attest that newspapers are heavily (sometimes subconsciously) influence by this kind of sponsorship, though they supposedly attempt to be ethical. Broadcast media, I'm sorry to say, are far less likely to even try to pretend to avoid conflicts of interest -- it's just a notion that has not really ever hit their radar.

Here's another ethical concern:
With the charter school industry wealthier than God and the news media collapsing, wouldn't education reporters be likely to consider moving INTO that industry? Why yes! This has actually happened, in fact. Former Oakland Tribune education reporter Jonathan Schorr and former San Francisco Examiner education reporter Nick Driver are two examples.

Well, is there any chance that this awareness just MIGHT influence any other current reporters considering writing articles that reflect negatively on charter schools? Gosh, ya think? Could this possibly have anything to do with the constant media gushing?

To be fair: The S.F. Chronicle's two main education reporters, Nanette Asimov and Jill Tucker, have both done hard-hitting coverage of charters (Asimov exposed the UPrep scam, among others), and the OakTrib's Katy Murphy hasn't been a wimp. They'll presumably have to look to other fields when their jobs evaporate. But their charter-puffing colleagues have some nice career options open to them.

The Perimeter Primate said...

This message was sent to me indirectly b/c the reader was having trouble w/the posts taking:

Great piece on Broad's dominance, not only of education "reform," but also "coverage" of said "reform."

Another Oakland Tribune education reporter who took a job with the privatizers is Alex Katz. He was on the beat when the district was taken over by the state in 2003 by a series of Broad-trained state administrators. He turned in a solid job as cheerleader for the district/state, rebuffing all efforts by teachers to get another perspective out. Shortly after he did a puff piece on the corporate sponsorship of the district's redesign as the major supplier of goods and services to satellite businesses (aka, school sites), he turned up as--imagine our "surprise"--the district's press secretary."

The Perimeter Primate said...

Here was the response:

RE: series of conversations about "crisis" in public schools
Thursday, March 26, 2009 10:27 AM
"Charlie Rose Viewer Service"

Your message has been forwarded to Charlie. We appreciate the suggestions and we thank you for watching.

Charlie Rose Viewer Services


The Perimeter Primate said...

Read about how Broad invited Charlie to the inauguration party he threw for Obama.

Larry King was the other TV interview show host mentioned.