That's the subject of a couple of important interviews this week and in the weeks to come. Wednesday's show featured Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City public school system. Thursday's program offers the differing views of Diane Ravitch, a writer, scholar and former Assistant Secretary of Education. It's a passionate subject---everyone involved makes forceful arguments about what needs to be done to equip the next generation with the skills they'll need to lead fulfilling lives while helping our country remain competitive. And while there's a lot of different kinds of politics involved among the factions lobbying for "reform," I continue to believe that all these people are sincere. Maybe I'm naive, but I think they honestly feel their ideas will bring positive change. We'll see. Producer Ariana Pekary and I are taking a different approach to this story. We fashioned a classic one-hour documentary about homeless children, but with education reform, we're giving you the raw interviews one-by-one. Maybe down the road we'll re-package them into a documentary--maybe not. We're still feeling our way through this area because there are so many different points of view. For example, you have a faction that believes teachers unions have blocked reform in the interests of protecting their own. Teachers, on the other hand, believe they've become the scapegoats of inept administrators. There's also a suspicion that business is ravenous to takeover the field of education in the same way it has plucked hospitals and nursing homes from municipal responsibility----a new growth area for profit. There are still more subplots and we hope to cover them all.
I need to own up to some associationsin the interests of full disclosure. My daughter Susannah teaches art in theFairfax County, Virginia public school system. I also serve (as does Diane Ravitch) on the board of the Albert Shanker Institute. Shanker was a longtime president of the American Federation of Teachers. That's a labor union, so I guess I also need to tell you that I am the national First Vice President of AFTRA, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, also a labor union. None of these affiliations matter. Where education is concerned, the important ties are my roles as the father of three college graduates and the grandfather of a nine-year-old. We all want the best for our progeny. Our series explores different ideas about how to accomplish that.