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?