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

Publication Date: 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,
arn-l@interversity.org,
http://www.fairtest.org





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