Monday, December 06, 2010

Dammit Oprah! (Let's Get Diane Ravitch on Her Show)

Here's the link to the Facebook petition to get Diane Ravitch on Oprah. We need more ideas and more perspectives. Please send this message far and wide.

I tape Oprah because she sometimes does a worthwhile show but this, her last season with this format, has been dismal.

You can imagine my dismay when I saw that Oprah's show opened today with her favorite...Michelle Rhee. Turns out Rhee isn't taking any job (I'm sure she would have had Meg Whitman won the governorship in California). She's going to start a program for "kids". She complains there is no one to speak for kids.

First, I'm sorry but what an ego. There are many, many groups that speak for children in the country who have existed for a long time (even speaking for education). She claims that if you ask kids they all say they want a good teacher. I'm sure that's true but they also want a pony and an iPhone. We can all be for kids but we also know as adults we have to make decisions for them. It's always been a cheap argument to say "do it for the kids".

Second, she made a fairly astonishing claim. I haven't investigated it but it is pretty hard to believe. She said that if you got rid of the bottom 6-10% of low-achieving teachers in the country, the U.S., just with the medium, good, and great teachers would rise right to the top in international standings.

How can she even know this? And yet Oprah didn't challenge this at all (Oprah's journalistic roots are long gone).

The reason I struggle with that statement is that 6-10% of 3.5M K-12 public school teachers (that includes charter teachers) is what? A little over 300,000 teachers. Given that there are factors outside of the classroom that have a huge influence on how students do in school, I can't believe that many bad teachers wield that kind of power. Maybe I'm naive.

Third, if all this will take to right our ship is getting rid of those teachers, write an executive order. Pass a law. How can it be this simple? And if it is, why charters? What about curriculum? What about assessments?

How does it boil down to 300,000 teachers?

Anyway, I digress because here's what I want to try to do. Just starting, not organized but I want to put it on your radar and ask you please to spread it far and wide. I will need help to contact media across the country but here's what I want to do:

I want to start a Facebook page to ask Oprah to have Diane Ravitch as a guest (a la the Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host Saturday Night Live).

It's relatively easy to set-up and if we get major coverage from media via all the education blogs also spreading the word, we might get some traction. Oprah might just feel a little shame and embarrassment at being so one-sided.

Oprah and everyone else needs to get this message. It is NOT about keeping the status quo OR one way to ed reform. That's what Gates and Broad and Arne all want the less-informed to believe. There are OTHER educational options and we, as a country, should be having that discussion. As well, districts and states should be having discussions about what would be best for THEIR districts.

Does this seem like something you would be willing to support and encourage others to vote for?

16 comments:

looking said...

there is this one:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Petition-to-Oprah-Please-book-Diane-Ravitch/154894424535087?ref=ts

seattle said...

Good idea Melissa! I made sure to watch Waiting for Superman AND Race to Nowhere. I like to get both sides. It would be great to see Diane Ravitch on Oprah!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Done and done, let's get the word out.

LouiseM said...

I think the point Michelle Rhee was making in terms of no organizaiton focused on kids is that there's no national organization with a vision and mission to support kids in public education nationwide when it comes to things like policy and bargaining agreements.

If you look at the activities her new foundation will do, it's really around lobbying and influencing in key places where policies can be made better or created to support student learning.

I for one think it's great she's doign something on the national stage. I don't think it's a Rhee vs Ravitch thing. I'd be willing to bet you see Ravitch joining Rhee in this work because it seems to be nonpartisan and agnostic about any specific reform/antireform agenda.

That's just how I see it.

Sahila said...

ALousieM... Rhee is part of the deform movement, has been since day one... she's not changing her stripes with this new organisation she's setting up...

If youo want more information, read some of the posts on this blog: Seattle Ed 2010

Go down the right hand side bar until you find this heading:
Michelle Rhee: Broad Board Member and DC Schools' Chancellor

seattle said...

Actually, Sahila, Ratvich and Rhee agree that the education system needs reform. They disagree on the type of reform needed and how to go about enacting it.

I think LouiseM may be right. We may see these two work together, and I for one think that would be terrific.

wseadawg said...

I'd be willing to bet you see Ravitch joining Rhee in this work because it seems to be nonpartisan and agnostic about any specific reform/antireform agenda.

LouiseM: That's an incredibly naive statement if you know anything about Michelle Rhee.

I'm not sure what you mean by "partisan" but Ms. Rhee is all about ivy league, class-based arrogance and megalomania.

Rhee's humorless, sadistic personality traits are what got her tossed out of D.C.

Perhaps her biggest hypocrisy is how she targets and demeans teachers, while she admittedly stunk up the classroom herself during her first year as a TFA teacher (thereby hurting kids), and only improved her second year by recruiting her entire family to help her with her out of class preparation time. (A big OOPS(!) from Ms. Wonder-woman herself, to let that slip out in an interview, after maintaining for years how she became great all on her own!) Wouldn't it be nice if all our teachers had a family at home helping them with their jobs? Pure, unbridled hypocrisy defines Michelle Rhee.

She then left TFA and formed The New Teacher project, with all that experience in her pocket by that time. And of course, who funded the New Teacher Project? Billionaires wanting to privatize schools and bust unions.

Rhee is a right wing shark and a two-bit phony. Trust her at your peril.

lurker said...

http://www.myballard.com/2010/12/06/ballard-hs-boundary-to-stay-at-nw-85th-st/#disqus_thread

check this discussion on myballard.com

wseadawg said...

An example of Rhee's work in D.C.

wseadawg said...

And some truthiness about the Charter Fad & Fanboys pumping their cause in SE Seattle.

What you don't hear about Charters from Gates, Rhee, Broad, Canada, et al.

LouiseM said...

OK, well thank you Wseadawg for clarifying how naive (and clearly ignorant) I am because since I apparently don't agree with you (who knew) I can't possibly be right about anything.

Duely noted.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ravitch and Rhee? I doubt it. The ed reform crowd doesn't listen to any other ideas. They don't.

I'd love it if it happened but I don't see any evidence it would.

Also, she wants to raise $1B for her group out the gate. Depending on what she wants to do, that could be good or bad.

wseadawg said...

LouiseM:

I called your statement naive, not you. I did not insult you personally and I assume you're a nice person. Personally, I dislike overly personal attacks on any blogs, as they rarely elevate or progress the debate.

But as MW points out, Ravitch and Rhee could not be more diametrically opposed. Sorry to be a bucket of cold water on your enthusiasm, but Rhee has been playing her "it's all about kids" game for a long time now, and you won't find one person opposing her saying "screw the kids," will you? That's how she frames the issue and chills the debate.

It's no different than the "we support the troops" slogans. Who doesn't? But if you don't support the war, the "journalists" will quickly question your patriotism and say you hate our troops. Pure conflation, but surprisingly effective.

hschinske said...

By the way, the New Yorker just did a profile on Eli Broad. Know what they talked about? His patronage of the arts. Wouldn't it be nice if they did a follow-up on the school issues?

Helen Schinske

wseadawg said...

Similarly, it's not THAT Rhee is supposedly advocating for kids. It's WHAT she's advocating for that I take issue with.

The conflation goes like this: "You hate kids, because you don't support Michelle Rhee, who fights for kids!"

dan dempsey said...

Melissa wrote:

"She said that if you got rid of the bottom 6-10% of low-achieving teachers in the country, the U.S., just with the medium, good, and great teachers would rise right to the top in international standings.

How can she even know this?


Given that there are factors outside of the classroom that have a huge influence on how students do in school, I can't believe that many bad teachers wield that kind of power. Maybe I'm naive.
"

NO Mel you are NOT naive. You are one of a small percentage of the population that is informed on "What is really happening in Education".

Ms. Rhee issues proclamations to her subjects much like MGJ. Knowledge is NOT required.

Ms. Rhee rose to her position of power in WA DC by pushing the lines that the "Billionaire Boys Club" wanted pushed.

This whole concept of the "value added method" used in evaluation of teachers by test scores depends on eliminating any thought about factors outside of the classroom that have a huge influence on how students do in school.

Ms. Rhee is excellent in delivering a simple message. Simple very inaccurate messages are the stock and trade of the "Reform Movement". The data shows us that this "Reform Movement" is a complete failure.

Yet the Reformers control the media and Oprah helps with this. The constant barrage of propaganda with little significant reflection on either the message or the results is far too typical today.

No time to think as "The Sky is Falling, The Sky is Falling. 17% means 83% of the sky is falling ... ACT NOW." Yet 66% are making gains on state testing ... Don't be confused just listen to the professionals that know best.