June 19, 2024

Oprah – Wrong On Education for Many Years

Just in case you didn’t think teachers have enough to contend with after massive budget cuts, layoffs, standardized testing and scores published by teacher in the Los Angeles Times. The President of the United States applauded a school that fired all of its teachers. NBC news is dedicating an unprecedented number of hours to one-sided discussions about education. A film blaming everything but global warming on the sudden catclysmic epidemic of bad teachers and money-hungry unions is coming to a cineplex near you.

Yesterday, Her Royal Highness, Oprah Winfrey piled on by doing an entire show on bad teachers. Her guests were two of the 3 or 4 Americans allowed to discuss education on television, Bill Gates and Michelle Rhee.

I have written quite a bit about Bill Gates’ hostile takeover of public education in GOOD Magazine, The Huffington Post and my own blog.

Oprah Winfrey, for all of the good she has done falls for the same handful of magic education beans over and over again. Bill Gates has been a guest before to provide Oprah with a reason to tell poor children that poverty and race no longer matter if you just do enough homework and learn to take standardized tests.

I wrote about Oprah’s troublesome views on education for District Administration Magazine back in 2007 when she was about to open her private school in South Africa.

Here is an excerpt from Oprah’s Edifice Complex. (June 2007)

Even a casual Oprah watcher can name Ms. Winfrey’s best friend, favorite actors, party planner, beloved authors, mentors, medical expert, personal trainer, hair stylist, home decorator, chef, financial advisor and spiritual guru. Oprah shares her favorite experts, friends and ideas with her audience. That’s her brand. If Oprah thinks it, you might too. If Oprah loves a product, you need to run out and buy one.

I have read and watched everything I could to learn more about Oprah’s school, and yet nagging questions remain. What is the educational philosophy of the school?

What do you think? Please comment below.

6 thoughts on “Oprah – Wrong On Education for Many Years

  1. We in the District of Columbia, have one thing to be grateful for and that is that Oprah did not time her broadcast before the District of Columbia elections.

    Thank God.

    Few people do their homework with the press and lots of people believe the hoopla about Michelle Rhee. From afar it seems right. From afar it may seem a wonderful solution. Not.. It is not about hating Michelle Rhee, it is about the reality of the situation, the political infighting in DC, the influences of the Congress and so on. . Rhee has wonderful cheerleaders. Foundations, funders and people who have no understanding of the depths of the problems in education. They go to expensive places and have think tanks that propose the answers to the problems. Few real people ever go to these elite gatherings.. Most of us don’t hate her.. its the attitude and the derision that we hate.

    . If it takes a village … we don’t have one. If you read Bill Turqe’s articles in the Washington Post.

    We have Congress. None of the Congressional children go to DC public schools. Most live in the suburbs or the children go to private schools.. Given the conversations, you would think that Black people really don’t care about education.

    Did OJ Simpson just run through here?

    Why is it such a polarized discussion? Do people really think that we don’t care about the schools? I often get lectures from people who don’t know that my parents had a history of opening high schools in Virginia and Mayrland for Blacks.. and that I have worked for years in education in passionate ways for all children

    . All of the children I taught were important to me.

    We care about our children and about our schools. We don’t have a vote. We don’t have political power. We had a mayor who promised to make a difference and he was not about involving the citizens of the jurisdiction in the changes that were made. It has been heartbreaking to watch the changes. Some of us have been embroiled in this struggle for more than ten years. Just read some of Larry Cuban’s articles on this problem. He used to work in DC and in the area. History tells the truth even if the media will not. You can use test scores, and data using Rhee’s own metrics.

    If you know that congress has oversight on DC schools. that means they, the Congress decide what money is spent and that DC is very much a democratic city and we are punished for it.. , you will know that the city gets embroiled in politics that other jurisdictions don’t have to fight.

    The fights are heartbreaking. In those fights we also do not often have a voice. The voce of the people shows.. read the recent vote. That is all we have. The media , some of it, will continue to strong arm, even when the information shows things to be different. Eleanor Holmes Norton is a shadow senator. That means no power of the vote. Nothing.

    This problem has been going on for years. I grew up in Arlington and watched and read and learned. But I also volunteered three years of my life to try to make a difference. Republican leadership punished the city.and sent me running to the suburbs. The funding was too short.

    Charter schools may be wonderful in other places, but here in DC the charter schools except one , are worse in performance than the public schools. That was a Bush era fight. Congress is the one that people should point the fingers at. Congress has oversight and they have been partisan wrangling for years.

    Just before school parents and concerned community members have to go paint the schools and do do upkeep. I used to work at Anthony Bowen Elementary School. One year I taught on a bench all year.Now that school. is brand spanking new. Why? It was sold and given to the police department . It no long stinks of urine with rats running through it and the windows all have glass panes/ . Few people would know the sad state of the DC public schools as a set of buildings. Every year this happens. As I pass the building all shiny and new, I think about what it was like then. Now all of the elementary children in SW go to a school that is very, very crowded. Why is there not a budget to fix the schools that can fix the schools? There is money. I have no idea how it is spent.

    It does not get down to the classroom level even with a Chancellor!!

    There are other reasons to discredit Ms. Rhee. She talks in terrible ways about a group of teachers hwo have not been empowered through the system to be all that they could be,.She is condescending especially to those people she does not consider to be people. That is anyoone over her age which would normally include Oprah, but Oprah is a celebrity. She has no time for black women leaders of any kind. . She thinks that teachers should only work for a ew years and then go on to other jobs. Did she seriourly teach school? ?

    It is even worse than you think…i have a friend who wanted to help with reading in DC. I hesitated to
    contact Ms. Rhee, but I was pushed to do so, I did get to talk to her. She did talk to me. But
    she was not interested in help or resources from the community at all.

    Talk technology, talk STEM. Some good examples, but she is , Ms. Rhee, reaching for the past instead of the future for kids who have families always running to catch up and make a difference, and still I rise would not be a good statement for DC education. While people are preparing for the 21st Century, there are teachers who do not use email. So here is my question. If there are that many teachers who have a problem, and who need updating, how did that happen? Its the system.

    Blinded by her “siccess” Ms. Rhee did not involve a community with no vote, with a school board that was challenged and she used her powers , to create problems without solvable solutions
    because dhe does not understand teh culture of the people who are the citiaens of DC.

    People sayto me that DC citizens don’t care? Do they really mean all of the citizens of a city? WIthout a working congressional person who can intervene? WIth a newspaper that
    pushs the edge of education without understanding the problems of the school population?

    I think the press needs to take a harder look. I believe that people want to make a difference
    and want to be involved. Is that so bad?

    Is that a crime?

    Bonnie Bracey Sutton

  2. I don’t know why anyone is surprised at the shallow approach to education taken by Oprah. She does the same thing to every topic on her show. Unfortunately, she is considered a “thought leader” in this country and is but one example of why we don’t solve tough problems in this country anymore. It’s easier to sit around for an hour (minus 18 minutes of ads) talking about them and then move on to the next one. Or, in the case of NBC, convene a panel of your news personalities, executives from companies that advertise on the network, and assorted celebrities, and hash over the same old cliches about schools and propose the same old “solutions”.

    And don’t get me started on Dr. Phil. 🙂

  3. I only watch Oprah sporadically, and even though it will make little difference, I will never watch her show again. I feel that she has tremedous influence over so many women from all walks of life (despite the ridiculously overpriced things she plugs on her show) and she blew an opportunity to truly engage and unite teachers, parents, kids, communities, etc. Instead, she added to the “blame the teacher” trend that seems to have engulfed this country. It’s terrible that so many otherwise intelligent people cannot see that we can’t give teachers all the accountability when they have limited authority.

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