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Peter Campbell reviews "Oprah's Special Report: American Schools in Crisis" (Part 1):

Posted: 2006-04-13

The most telling aspect of the show was Oprah's repeated emphasis on
raising expectations for poor children.

Comments from Annie: Peter Campbell clarifies the limited attention that Oprah gave to Kozel in her show on public schools. The majority of Oprah?s attention went, of course, to the Gates?.

Peter also recommends a (May 2005) CNN report on NCLB but admits that the challenge is finding an audience with the interest and desire to be informed. In his case, and probably this isn?t rare, his local school board wasn?t interested.

Peter Campbell reviews "Oprah's Special Report: American Schools in Crisis" (Part 1):

Kozol did appear on Oprah yesterday, albeit for about a minute. He

delivered a previously taped message to the audience and called the

educational status quo for what it is: apartheid. He said something

like, "I know this is a hard word for people to hear. But sometimes

it's necessary to call something what it really is."

Oprah then plugged, rather vigorously, The Shame of the Nation, even

going so far as to cut to an image of the front cover of the book and

saying something like, "If you really want to know what's going on,

read this book."

The irony, of course, is that Oprah herself had clearly not read this

book. If she had, what the hell would she be doing talking to Bill

Gates, praising his work and plugging his new web site? (She actually

said no one -- no one -- is doing more for public education than

Gates.) How would it be possible to make it through Kozol's painful

book, take a deep breath, and say, "Boy, I need to schedule an

interview with those KIPP people and plug their model as the solution

to our problems"?

The most telling aspect of the show was Oprah's repeated emphasis on

raising expectations for poor children. I honestly expected her to

blurt out at any minute, "Those of you who don't believe poor black

and Hispanic kids can learn are guilty of the soft bigotry of low

expectations." She did not, in fact, say this. But she didn't have

to: the entire framing of the show did it for her.

Part 2 of Oprah's take on public schools airs today, which will

include a conversation with KIPP founders Dave Levin and Mike Feinberg.

BTW - just to be fair to CNN: they did a CNN Presents piece last May

on NCLB that was pretty rock 'em, sock 'em. It goes pretty deeply

into "the Houston miracle" and exposes it, along with the rest of

NCLB, for what it is. I gave a copy to the local school board vice

president to show at a board meeting. He said this was not the sort

of thing they could show. Translation: the truth about education

reform doesn't feel as good as the gooey bromides that Bush throws to

us in exchange for our silent capitulation.

Peter Campbell

(printed with permission.) [arn-l Digest] Vol. 3 No. 95,



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