Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Education Nation reflection and fallout


1 a : the often radioactive particles stirred up by or resulting from a nuclear explosion and descending through the atmosphere; also : other polluting particles (as volcanic ash) descending likewise

b : descent (as of fallout) through the atmosphere

2 : a secondary and often lingering effect, result, or set of consequences

Okay, this past week’s propaganda-fest peak seems to have passed, so now all we have to deal with are the toxic particles that remain. This was probably one of the plans hatched up by the billionaires at the clandestine May 2009 summit organized by Bill Gates, which was attended by Gates, Broad, Bloomberg, Winfrey, and others.

Here is Stephen Lazar’s reflection of his experience as one of Education Nation’s featured teachers:

Over the past few days, I have had the unbelievably depressing and deflating experience of being part of NBC’s Education Nation. I was one of the first teachers on stage for Sunday’s Teacher Town Hall, and I returned on Monday for a panel entitled “Good Apples,”…

Arriving at Rockefeller Plaza Sunday morning was a surreal experience. I am going to give NBC credit for two things: they have poured a ton of human and financial resources into having a conversation about education in America, and they built a beautiful setting to do so. I felt like I had entered a dream world where the voices of teachers would actually be listened to and respected in a forum where major educational decisions were made. I should have known better…

I admit, I should have known better than to expect anything positive to come out of NBC’s Education Nation. It became abundantly clear that while well intentioned, NBC really knew very little about the topic they decided to cover, and instead of any real conversation or reporting, relied on the most famous faces in education to argue over the same old points that get us nowhere. I hoped the conversation would change, but with the people they had involved, I should have known there was little hope for that...

Be sure to read the whole thing HERE.

Memorable accounts of what was going on at NBC behind the scenes in the days leading up to Education Nation are preserved in the online history books now.

Leonie Haimson informed us in Education Indoctrination about how NBC named one of its panel sessions “Does Education Need a Katrina?” then changed the title after public outcry. She also reviewed for us how Yong Zhao was disinvited, and how, in fact, anyone skeptical of the dominant education “reform” was pretty much excluded.

Diane Ravitch, one of the most prominent voices about education matters, especially over this past year, was originally invited to appear live via satellite, but Education Nation decided to do a taped interview instead. This segment was cut down and spliced together with segments of other things. In other words, NBC gave Ravitch an insulting spit of an appearance.

All of this would seem odd for a multi-day program with such an important and far-reaching agenda, unless you knew who was driving the program’s mission.

Then there’s Oprah.

Oprah Winfrey jumped on the bandwagon with her billionaire friends and presented an education show, too (“show” being the telltale phrase). At one point, she canceled the appearance of a teacher who had been invited to appear (the woman had even flown to Chicago) in favor of giving fellow billionaire Mark Zuckerberg a chance to try to protect his self image which has been sullied by a soon-to-be-released movie, and to redeem himself by donating $100 million to Newark public schools which can only be used under conditions which may well be illegal.

Anthony Cody summed up the whole sordid affair and coined a great new word: “OprahPaganda.”

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post had this take:

Oprah Winfrey may imagine that she runs a serious policy forum on her television show. You know, the one on which she routinely features: celebrities; hoarders (Aug. 5,6); dieters; people facing unusual crisis, such as a woman who had a tumor that covered half of her face (Aug. 2), and a woman who discovered her dead husband’s mistresses (July 30).

But she doesn’t. Shows recently aired include:

  • 09/14/2010 Exclusive - How Wynonna Judd Survived the Ultimate Betrayal
  • 09/13/2010 Oprah’s Farewell Season Premiere with Special Guest John Travolta
  • 09/08/2010 Harpo Hookups - Cher, Justin Timberlake,, Usher
  • 09/07/2010 Women Who Claim They Were Child Brides in the USA
  • 09/06/2010 Stars of Reality TV: Fantasia’s Comeback and Ruby’s Revelations
  • 09/02/2010 Oprah’s Make Over My Man Crew Strikes Again
  • 09/01/2010 The Most Talented Kids with Justin Bieber and Charice
  • 08/31/2010 Oprah Says Goodbye to Nate Berkus: The Grand Finale
  • 08/30/2010 Oprah and Simon Cowell: The Farewell Interview
  • 08/25/2010 Inside Sex Addiction Rehab

So yesterday when she aired the show called “Waiting For Superman - The Movie That Can Transform America’s Schools,” her viewers should have known that they were watching an entertainment show with a show woman -- not an educator -- as host…

But then there’s the smarmy Joe Williams of DFER who is now basking in the rays of this explosion of propaganda and wrote this message to his hedge fund-manager friends:

I mean, seriously?

Oprah? Meet The Press? Matt Lauer and Obama talking hard-core, down and dirty ed reform on the Today Show? One hundred million dollars for Newark school reform from that Facebook dude? Education Nation? Front page of Time Magazine? Waiting for ‘Superman’????...

Due to the passion of an awful lot of people on this email list [his hedge fund manager friends], the tracks were laid over the course of the last few years for the kind of high-profile conversations that are taking place right now on the airwaves, in movie theaters, and in public squares all over the land…

All of us have made tremendous personal and professional sacrifices [translate: donations to the cause of the privatization and oligarch-ification of the U.S.] to help get this issue where it is today…

But thank God for Leonie. From Gotham Schools:

A group of city public school parents blasted NBC today for its week-long special programming on education, saying that the network has kept parents and skeptics of education reform off the air.

The network is running a series of televised interviews and panel discussions it is calling “Education Nation” all this week. Parents gathered today outside of the “Learning Plaza” the network has built at Rockefeller Center to complain about the series’ line-up of speakers, which is dominated by politicians, officials and philanthropists.

“Parents are offended about the way in which NBC has refused to invite a single NYC public school parent onto any of their panels,” said Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters. “Instead, the network has allowed wealthy billionaires once again to control the agenda.”

The group also criticized NBC for allowing Mayor Bloomberg to deliver a policy speech televised on the network Monday morning without taking questions from reporters.

This (me) urban public school parent, non-union member, who has experienced 17+ school years (the last eight of them in so-called "failing" schools), and has been the parent "client" of at least 100 teachers and 10 principals -- and knows A LOT at this point -- has one final thought.

A friend of mine doesn't share my passion about all this education stuff, but will sometimes chime in and say something that's spot on, such as:

"Who would want to be a teacher these days? You get paid s**t. You have to deal with unmotivated, disrespectful students and complaining, uninvolved parents. You have to deal with crappy administrators.

"Not only are you busy all day, but then you have to go home and grade all those papers.

"What pleasure could you get out of that? At least you have the summers off.

"Maybe if you were really into teaching, or if you are married to a millionaire and doing it to keep busy. Or if you were teaching in a school like Head Royce [one of our local hoity-toity private schools] where there are a lot of resources.

"It’s a lot of work."

I know this view is simplistic, harsh, and unromantic, but it does contain some truth. And it doesn’t even mention the current fad of bashing and demoralizing teachers, or the degree to which many of them spend their own hard earned money on their classes.

My years of working in the Parent Center at my local middle school gave me so many insights about day-to-day school life. It's too bad more people don't have a chance to see teachers in action so they can become aware of what they do, and learn to appreciate it, too.

This would be the movie that needs to be made.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Ravitch speaking the truth

Diane Ravitch speaking to teachers in L.A. on September 24, 2010. The mainstream media has been ACTIVELY blocking out the presentation of this point of view. Read Leonie Haimson's "Education Indoctrination" for the little-known facts.

And it's not too late to sign the petition encouraging Oprah to feature Ravitch as her guest. Go to's "Petition to Oprah."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ed deform propaganda in full bloom

The pro-charter/anti-union/oligarch-orchestrated cabal's propaganda is in full bloom, and stinking up the place like a amorphophallus titanum (Corpse flower). In case you’ve been trapped in a closet this week, here’s what’s been happening so you can get up to speed.

On September 13, NBC issued a press release about Education Nation in which it announced the confirmed speakers to date. BE SURE TO LOOK AT THE LIST OF THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR DESCRIPTIONS BELOW!

Read Teacher Ken’s website and comments about the onslaught HERE.

A couple of folks started a Miseducation Nation Facebook page @ when NBC started deleting and blocking comments made by people who were bothered by the one-sidedness of this Gates/Broad-sponsored, and probably designed, event.

Anthony Cody at Living in Dialogue on OprahPaganda and NBC’s blocking of comments!

Sign this petition urging Oprah to have Diane Ravitch as her featured guest!!!:

Word was getting around about the comment-blocking issue on Education Nation’s Facebook page, and a public relations problem was brewing, so NBC changed their settings. Let them know what you think @

Breaking news reports from Norm Scott in NYC @

And from the Grassroots Education Movement NYC, a trailer for "The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting For Superman."

Re: the Superman movie

This piece of propaganda was funded by former eBay CEO Jeffrey Skoll and Phillip Anshutz, a far right-wing, evangelical billionaire. Theaters should hold special screenings for the resisters, so we can boo all we want.

The line-up for Education Nation's special guests (grab your barf bag)

POLITICIANS (recipients of filthy, manipulative Duncan, Gates, and/or Broad money)

  • Michael Bloomberg: Mayor, City of New York (Gates donated $4 million to keep Bloomberg in control)
  • Cory Booker: Mayor, City of Newark, New Jersey [As Joe Williams wrote in a September 2009 e-newsletter from Democrats for Education Reform: “Tip #5. Start your new school year off on the right foot by getting yourself one of the highly sought-after DFER 2009-10 school year calendars, featuring pin-ups of your favorite education reformers. (Ladies, Newark Mayor Cory Booker is Mr. January… Yeah, that’s what we’re talking about.) You can get your free calendar by contributing $50 or more to DFER’s political action committee.”]. Good grief.
  • Phil Bredesen: Governor, State of Tennessee (home of Vanderbuilt University which just released a study showing that one of the ed deformers' favorite ideas is a big flop)
  • Jennifer M. Granholm: Governor, State of Michigan
  • Jack Markell: Governor, State of Delaware
  • Michael Nutter: Mayor, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Antonio Villaraigosa: Mayor, City of Los Angeles, California

GOVERNMENT BUREAUCRATS (all have had formal affiliations with the Broad Foundation)

  • Arne Duncan: US Secretary of Education
  • Joel Klein: Chancellor of New York City Schools
  • Michelle Rhee: Chancellor, District of Columbia Public School System of Washington, D.C.
  • Margaret Spellings: Former US Secretary of Education


  • Geoffrey Canada: CEO & President of Harlem Children's Zone Project (the press release didn’t mention that he is a spokesman for American Express, listed at #2 of Education Nation’s sponsors)
  • David Coleman: Founder & CEO, Student Achievement Partners; Contributing Author of the Common Core Standards
  • Reed Hastings: Founder & CEO of Netflix (a major charter school proponent; the press release didn’t mention that he sits on Microsoft’s Board of Directors under Bill Gates)
  • Wendy Kopp: CEO and Founder of Teach for America (married to KIPP CEO Richard Barth)
  • John Legend: Musician; Founder of the Show Me Campaign (a great voice who has become some kind of variation of a sentimental, rescuing-mentality teachers' pet)
  • Sally Ride: First Female Astronaut; Vice-chair of Change the Equation (Started by former Intel CEO Craig Barrett and the Gates')


  • Allan Golston, President, US Program, The Gates Foundation (the GF is the #3 sponsor)
  • Gregory McGinity: Managing Director of Policy, The Broad Education Foundation (the BF is the #4 sponsor)

ABLE TO BE BOUGHT-OFF (all are recipients of major amounts of Gates’ largess)

  • Byron Garrett: CEO of the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA)
  • Randi Weingarten: President of American Federation of Teachers (AFT-CLO)
  • Janet Murguia: President & CEO of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR)


  • Bill Pepicello, Ph.D.: President of University of Phoenix (#1 on the list of sponsors)


  • Gwen Samuel, CT delegate to Mom Congress (Mom Congress is an “advocacy initiative” hatched up by Parenting magazine to help sell more magazines)


  • Barry Schuler: Former CEO of AOL
  • Edward Rust: Chairman & CEO of State Farm Insurance Companies
  • Sterling Speirn: CEO, Kellogg Foundation
  • Walter Isaacson: President & CEO of the Aspen Institute


  • Maria Bartiromo: Anchor of CNBC's "Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo" and Anchor and Managing Editor of "Wall Street Journal Report with Maria Bartiromo"
  • Tom Brokaw: NBC News Special Correspondent
  • Ann Curry: News Anchor, "Today" and Anchor, "Dateline NBC"
  • Lester Holt: Anchor, "NBC Nightly News," Weekend Edition and Co-Host, "Today" Weekend Edition
  • Brian Williams: Anchor and Managing Editor "NBC Nightly News"
  • David Gregory: Moderator, "Meet the Press"
  • Andrea Mitchell: NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent and Host, "Andrea Mitchell Reports"



At the very least, sign this petition urging Oprah to invite Diane Ravitch to be her featured guest!!!:

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Yong Zhao: On nurturing passion

Professor Zhao's wise message needs to be given the widest possible audience. Please send it along to your coworkers, friends, and family.

Our nation's future is at stake.