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MEMO TO THE HOSTS OF MORNING JOE: ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

March 1, 2012

MEMO TO THE HOSTS OF MORNING JOE: ASK THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

From: Jeanne Allen

Dear Joe and Mika:

Tomorrow you will host what appears to be another important show on K-12 education in America. Because we have been toiling in the education reform vineyard long enough to remember when the words “choice” and “accountability” were not even in the vernacular, your openness to airing these issues is welcome, indeed.

We’re pleased that CHOICE and ACCOUNTABILITY now appear to be mainstream watchwords of reform. Yet the opponents of reform are smart, so it also means the words are occasionally cheapened by overuse and misuse.

Perhaps tomorrow’s Town Hall meeting can tease out the real reformers from those who are simply waxing rhetorical. From our on-the-ground involvement in states, we know some of your guests are offering real leadership on reform, while others …, well, not so much.

Here are some questions to help you separate the wheat from the chaff – to tease out the real reform from the empty promises:

CHOICE: As we speak, African American policymakers and educators are gathered at a meeting in Washington to advance the goal of ensuring more and better options for children of color, who graduate at vastly lower rates, barely score “basic” on proficiency tests and are more likely to go to jail than go to college.

Despite this deeply dismaying picture of US education, NJ Governor Chris Christie’s Department of Education has rejected dozens of strong charter school proposals while hundreds of NJ schools are beyond failure. He has been very effective at getting folks off the beach in a storm. But Governor Christie has not succeeded in twisting enough arms to give vouchers to the poor so that they can escape from the state’s worst performing schools. This is doubly

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Morning news isn't just White House dogs and pirates

morningjoeTwo interesting education conversations on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning:

1) Walter Isaacson speaks some truth about NCLB, charter schools, mayoral control and teachers unions, but his argument that deep down Duncan supports the D.C. voucher program coupled with a sunny outlook on the affect $timulus money will have in the classroom raised this viewer’s eyebrows.

2) D.C.’s Mayor Adrian Fenty lays it out for Joe and states unequivocally that real change will come to public schools when principals are given control of a hiring/firing process based on merit. Be sure to watch the Mayor dance around Pat Buchanan’s assertion that what he is endorsing is union busting.

The best note of the morning, however, was hit by Joe when he shook his head in an attempt to understand the BLOB and their efforts to thwart true reform, saying: “It’s like these people are like holdouts, like those Japanese soldiers that kept fighting for 20 years on remote islands. They didn’t realize the world had changed.”

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