CNN special on “fixing” education in the U.S.

November 6, 2011

I get press releases in e-mail:

FIXING EDUCATION is Focus of New “Restoring the American Dream” FAREED ZAKARIA GPS Primetime Special

Restoring the American Dream – FIXING EDUCATION Debuts Sunday at 8:00pm ET and PT

TIME Magazine Companion Story “When Will We Learn?” Hits Newsstands Friday

American primary and secondary education were once envied by much of the world, but over the last few decades U.S. students have fallen behind – while students in other countries have benefitted from improvements to their educational systems.  CNN and TIME magazine’s Fareed Zakaria interviews innovative and creative leaders working on solutions to fix what ails American education in his November primetime special, Restoring the American Dream – FIXING EDUCATION, on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8:00pm & 11:00pm ET & PT, and for a companion TIME magazine cover article, “When Will We Learn?” that hits newsstands Friday.

Time Magazine cover for November 4, 2011

Time Magazine cover for November 4, 2011, featuring Fareed Zakaria's story on education reform

PISA, the Program for International Student Assessment, ranks 15-year-olds for basic skills achievement in 65 industrialized nations.  In the latest PISA rankings, the U.S. ranks 15th in reading, 23rd in math, and 31st in science.  Zakaria guides viewers through tours of what is working in education in countries with high rankings – to South Korea where students have more classroom time; and Finland , where professionalization of the teacher workforce has improved educators – in order to mine ideas for what could put U.S. education back on the right track.

Featured in the special are:

  • ·Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, whose foundation has donated $5 billion dollars to schools, libraries, and scholarships tells Zakaria that the single most important determinant in the quality of a student’s education is the teacher.  The Gates Foundation is the leading source of private money for education in the U.S. .
  • ·Salman Khan,< founder of the Khan Academy , an educational organization that provides free, self-paced tutorials and student assessments online.  Khan’s famous podcasts have delivered more than 83 million free lessons in math, science and other topics, and he tells Zakaria that customizing education can improve learning through leveraging how students learn differently.  He thinks it would not be that difficult to teach all American students this way.
    • NYU Professor, former Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, and author (The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, 2010) Diane Ravitch has spent a lifetime in education policy analysis and has seen education reforms come and go – and harm students.  Ravitch supports a rigorous national curriculum and tells Zakaria that standardized testing, charter schools, and modeling public education after business models have politicized American education and degraded schools for a generation.
    • ·Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, in Washington, now leads StudentsFirst, a nonprofit aimed at education reform through, among other measures, ending teacher tenure and supporting charter school alternatives to traditional public schools.

A FAREED ZAKARIA GPS Special:Restoring the American Dream – FIXING EDUCATION – debuts Sunday, Nov. 6 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET/PT on CNN/U.S.  It will replay on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 8:00p.m. and 11:00p.m. ET/PT on CNN/U.S.  Preview available here: Fareed Zakaria and Brooke Baldwin discuss what makes a great teacher.

Fareed Zakaria’s TIME magazine cover story, When Will We Learn? hits newsstands Friday, Nov. 4.

So the Time story is already out (home delivery has already occurred in many cases).

If you’re interested in this special, you may want to record it yourself — CNN tells me no DVD will be available.

I have AT&T cable, so we don’t get CNN, which is reserved for the high-cost, not-teachers-salary package.  Somebody tell me how it goes.

Zakaria thinks solidly and well on a number of topics, especially where comparison with foreign nations is made.  Ravitch was struck with an epiphany on testing and the No Child Left Behind Act over a year ago, as described in the press release.  She came to see that testing sucks rigor out of classrooms, instead of instilling rigor as we discussed 30 years ago in the education reform movement.

What in the world can Michelle Rhee add to this discussion?  From the press release it looks a lot like the “balance” fallacy makes the show suffer:  Journalists think they need a contrasting view, so when Euclid tells a writer that 2+2=4, the journalist seeks out others who have different opinions, and prints those opinions no matter how stupid, insipid, or dangerous they may be.

Let us keep hope alive.

See also at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub:


A Seussian fable, about how tests ruin school reform

April 7, 2011

Look, you really need to go to TeacherSabrina’s blog, Failing Schools, where she first posted this, and take a look at many of her posts.

But I can’t resist putting the video here, because I know a few old-timers would be confused by the link, and some people will think they don’t have the time to make two clicks instead of one.

So, here, in its Seussian glory and demand for Flash Animation, is TeacherSabrina’s story of D.C.’s late Queen of the Schools, Michelle Rhee, and her desire to get D.C.’s kids to score well on an increasing battery of tests  [Got a good joke about assault and battery we can insert here?]:  “Rhee the Reformer:  A Cautionary Tale.”

Tip of the old scrub brush to Accountable Talk.


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