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Committed To Fighting For Equity and Access in Public Education

Featuring interviews, testimony and analysis on issues facing public education in the U.S. through voices of teachers, parents, students, community members, education activists and education scholars. Education Radio is committed to exposing the profit driven interests fueling current education policies while addressing issues of true equity and access in public education.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Won't Back Down": Corporate Education Reform and the Rhetoric of Fiction


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In the past weeks, we have watched with renewed energy and hope as the teachers, parents, students and community members of Chicago have shown us the power of solidarity. Their resistance to the privatization of public education and their demand to reclaim the classroom from hedge fund managers, real estate tycoons, venture philanthropists and their political stooges, is shifting the narrative from one of blaming teachers, students, parents and unions to naming the lies behind corporate ‘reform’ efforts.

This impressive and inspiring ‘actual event’ stands in sharp contrast to the most recent attempt by corporate deformers to manipulate the narrative about schools, teachers, students, parents and where the battle lies in education. Set for release on Sept. 28, Won’t Back Down brought to you by the same people who gave us Waiting for Superman, is selling itself as "inspired by actual events".  In this week’s program, Education Radio unmasks the lie behind that tag line, the Parent Trigger laws that the film alludes to, and the pretense that this films speaks for anyone except corporate profiteers. At the same time, we will explore the actual events of parents and community members who have opposed Parent Trigger laws, their struggles and their solidarity. 


Leonie Haimson
We speak with five women, all activists and parents. First we hear Leonie Haimson, Executive Director of Class Size Matters and a founding member of Parents Across America, tell us about the corporate reformers behind the movie.

Lori Friedlander Yuan
Then Caroline Grannen, from Parents Across America talks about parent trigger laws, their genesis, and the uncovering of the astroturf forces behind one attempt to enact the trigger in Compton California.

Rita Solnet from Parents Across America Florida and Testing is Not Teaching, saw the movie and shares its manipulative impact, while also contrasting its fiction with the real story of Florida parent activism to defeat parent trigger legislation Florida. 

Rhoda Rae Gutierrez and her family
We also hear from two Lori Frieidline Yuan about the deceit used by the astroturf Parent Revolution, to get a parent trigger law enacted in Adelante, California. She tells about how the parents were first deceived and then worked to have their voices really heard.

Last, we speak with Rhoda Rae Gutierrez, a Chicago parent, and Program Director at the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education.  She talks abut her experiences supporting Chicago teachers during their strike.

Together, the stories these women tell give us a picture of what real activism looks like, and of the knowledge and strength to be gained when parents join teachers to take down corporate reformers their deceitful and dangerous narratives.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Jonathan Kozol: Fire in the Ashes

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As we welcome the 2012 school year, and while Chicago teachers are courageously standing up for high quality education for all students, we bring you a moving and inspiring talk by award-winning author and longtime education and civil rights activist Jonathan Kozol. This talk was recorded at the 2012 Save Our Schools People’s Education Convention in Washington DC. 

Kozol begins by focusing on the damaging nature of the current testing mania imposed on children, teachers and schools in the poorest communities; the inequality between rich and poor schools; and how current education reform policies result in the resegregation of black and brown children in our education system and are in effect perpetrating major civil and human rights violations on our most vulnerable children. 

As told in his new book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, Kozol vividly takes us back to the scenes of his prize-winning books Rachel and Her Children and Amazing Grace, and to many of the children’s lives he graphically documented, sharing the tragedies, struggles and resilient journeys as they grew into adulthood.

With Strings Attached: The Gates Foundation and Venture Philanthropy

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In this week's program, we take a closer look at the role of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in funding and promoting corporate education reform. The Gates Foundation is one of a handful of venture philanthropists - along with the Broad and Walton Foundations - who have spent billions of dollars in the last decade to change the face of public education in the United States.

Gates' agenda for reform is essentially identical to that of the U.S. Department of Education, namely increasing the use of high-stakes standardized tests at all levels, standardizing curriculum, creating a de-unionized system of merit-based pay for teachers tied to student test scores, and disinvesting in neighborhood public schools in favor of opening new charter schools.

As we've explored in previous episodes of Education Radio, all of these reforms can be tied to a larger ideology of free-market competition and a corporate agenda of deregulation and privatization, and are actually leading to greater social and economic inequalities.