People, Politics & Business

Scoundrels, Educrats, Rogues and Champions


CJ Westerberg, December 1, 2009 5:30 PM


Newt Gingrich,the Rev. Al Sharpton and Arne Duncan, Sec'y of Education, are visiting schools together as a part of an unusual bi-partisan "Listening and Learning Tour" for public education.

What a most interesting trio "representing" education. They recently had a grand time together on "Meet The Press" with David Gregory with the full transcript and video below.  We do like the fact they are engaging the public about education, and acknowledging that they agree about "70%" of the time, making it entertaining on a certain level.  (Highlights below are links to articles and background info)

However,  Sharpton has recent demons haunting his image, and both Gingrich and Duncan have their own as well, so we're not talking boy scouts here.  Sharpton, co-founder of the Education Equality Project, and Newt  Gingrich, former Republican Speaker of the House, seem right at home talking about education.   Oddly,  Arne Duncan never seems quite comfortable or believably passionate, relying so much on obviously memorized sound bites, tough-talking metaphors and requisite drama words (ie. dramatically used seven times).

There was a lead-in video clip of a young African American student with a microphone stating that they want "teachers who want to teach" before the trio's introduction which seemed a bit much in the teacher bashing department as an opener.

Randi Weingarten, head of American Teachers Union, had a clip during the program denouncing the "demonization and scapegoating" of teachers.  She said there has to be "support" for teachers.   Al Sharpton later chimed in and talked about how great teachers make such a difference and there isn't much incentive for them, and how no program will make a difference if teachers are unable to teach due to violence in the schools.   

Randi then left herself and the AFT wide open by talking about how the Union is working on "humane" ways of getting bad teachers out of the industry.

Newt jumped back:  Is it "humane" having students lose years from teachers who don't care?  Newt went on to praise charter schools like KIPP,  thought Pell grants for everyone was a good idea, and was against national standards. 

Yet don't think it's just public school students who lose from teachers who are ill-equipped or incompetent.  The Head of Sidwell Friends, the very exclusive private school attended by President Obama's daughters, Sasha and Malia, explained how there has been a "brain drain" of teachers.  Yes folks, even in $30,000+ a year private schools, you can have really terrible teacher.  He pointed out how top scoring countries like Singapore and Finland recruited teachers from their  top graduate ranks, while sadly,  teachers in the US come from the lowest performing graduates.  (More to come on this issue in TDR soon since this comment is disputed by LInda Hammond Darling here "The average teacher today is in the top half of his or her college class".)       

For those who just like the transcript.    By the way, is this a platform for Newt to run in 2012? 

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