The Washington Post

Jon Stewart hosts Ravitch, rips critics of teachers

Jon Stewart, hosting education historian Diane Ravitch, outdid himself last night on "The Daily Show" with a scathing and hysterically funny (and sad) new attack on the hypocrisy underlying the assault on public school teachers.

Stewart was ruthless as he poked serious fun at the hypocritical attacks on “the greed” of public school teachers by critics on Fox News who insist on sacrifices from the public sector but not the private sector. He showed film clips (see below) in which Republican commentators first moaned that folks in the financial sector earning $250,000 a year are practically poor but teachers earning $50,000 a year, with benefits, are overpaid.

Stewart welcomed Ravitchon the show for the first time since 2003. Back then, Ravitch was a supporter of No Child Left Behind, but as she saw its effects -- the narrowing of curriculum, the obsession with standardized tests -- she changed her position and wrote the best-selling “Death and Life of the Great American School System.

Ravitch talked (see video below) in plain terms about why current school reform policies make no sense.

As a reminder of Stewart’s influence, it is worth noting that Ravitch’s book shot up from 758 (which is still pretty terrific for an education policy book published last spring) to within the top 50 selling books on this morning. The book chronicles her change in position and why the country’s school reform agenda will harm schools rather than help them.

And here’s another video of Stewart talking about the gravy train being over for teachers, noting in his riotous running commentaries “Crisis in the Dairyland” that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker not only is seeking to strip teachers and other public sector workers of most of their collective bargaining rights but also wants to cut $800 million from the public school budget over the next years.

Walker wants everybody to sacrifice, Stewart noted, adding:

“We are all in this together. All of us have to sacrifice. Teachers. Teachers’ assistants. Student teachers. Retired teachers. [pause] School janitors. Everybody has to sacrifice.”

Take the time to watch these. This is the best show Stewart has had, from start to finish, in a long time. And the most important.

Follow my blog every day by bookmarking And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at it!

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.


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