Media’s take on the Save Our Schools Rally and March

We know the media sucks when it comes to reporting real news with real facts and real analysis. Liberal media personalities, like Olbermann, Shultz, etc. are as pathetically vacuous in their reporting and analysis as well, if in a different way.

People are going ape shit over Keith Olbermann’s Four Great Hypocrisies About the Debt Deal.Yet nowhere does he put any responsibility of the crisis on the Democrats, or even Obama. Apparently, it’s not important or newsworthy that it was Obama who originally called for cutting into Social Security, not the Republicans. It was a Republican financial mess from beginning to end. It’s all their fault.

But playing to their base is what they do. Fox appeals to conservatives and hate groups. Keith, Ed, Rachel, et al. cater to bourgeois liberals.

There is a nascent movement growing to fight for public education, to reverse the attacks on teachers, calls for equity in funding and an end to high stakes tests that do absolutely nothing to help students learn and, in fact, force the dumbing down of curriculum in order to make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) rather than face the fate of takeover by a private corporation. There’s a lot of money to be made in privatizing what was once public education and in the creation of never-ending tests to assess how well one can do a bubble test in school.

This past week we saw in Washington a 2-day conference organized by the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action committee followed by an assembly of extremely worn out but motivated educators deciding on what comes next. Some of the best minds in education were workshop leaders and keynote/rally speakers. This includes Diane Ravitch who turned 180 degrees from her position in the first Bush administration to oppose No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. As an educational historian she sees how we have always been in an educational crisis and the latest attempts to address the present issues are far removed from the realities facing education today. She recognizes that poverty plays a crucial role in a child’s education. The Department of Education under Arne Duncan, as supported by President Obama, sees the problem as being caused by bad teachers and evaluating them based on student performance is their remedy.

Another great mind in the field to address the conference and the rally was Jonathan Kozoll. With his seminal work on class difference and disparities of funding based on residence he electrified the crowd as only a 60’s intellectual could.  Savage Inequalities ranks up there with Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.

So what does the media focus on, including the Ed Shultz show? Matt Damon ripping into a Libertarian reporter and cameraman from Reason TV. It’s a great piece of theatre, but is that what the demo was all about?  Lots of great signs and posters expressed the mood of the angry crowd: calling for the firing of Duncan, end to high stakes testing, strong union support, no to tax dollars going to private charter schools, etc. 

It was great to have Matt, introduced by his mother who is an activist teacher. He did help to bring out the media and various outlets did substantial coverage, including that of Lawrence O’Donnell from MSNBC. In this give and take with the reporter he really nailed it on the head. But Ed and all others in the media: Even though the news division has long been considered a form of entertainment, how about for once look to cover important trends of national importance by those on the front lines, not just what will bring in viewers and not a gotcha piece with a famous actor as the protagonist. I was far more impressed with the impassioned speech by John Kuhn,  school superintendent of a very small district in Texas.

Myles Hoenig is a teacher activist in Maryland. He can be reached at: myles.hoenig@gmail.com. Read other articles by Myles.