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Video: Russo Shocks Conference With "Reform Bubble" Comment

Picture 46 Here's a screengrab from my cameo during #EducationNation's special Tuesday morning edition of "Meet The Press," which consisted of bearded, tie-less me weighing in from what they called the Oprah Seat in the front row of the audience to blather for a few seconds about my notion that there's been a school reform "bubble" and how it's in the process of being popped.  (It's at about the 55 minute mark, mom.) More on that later.  While most of the folks up there said pretty predictable things -- Diane Ravitch and Geoff Canada agreeing about the critical importance of wraparound services, for example -- Columbia J-School Dean Nick Lemann's "take a chill pill, everyone" remarks stood out for me.  

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Yes, I really like the rumpled and unshaven "former hill staffer" look. No, seriously, good for you.

Now, would you check and see if you have another shoe on, that you might drop? I'm waiting to see the emergence of the "turned education reporter" half of the blurb.

Waiting for you to elaborate on your bubble-bursting prediction!

Back in the days when for-profit Edison Schools ruled the reform world and those of us who didn't just unquestioningly believe every lie we were told knew THAT bubble would burst, I predicted a spectacular collapse and said Chris Whittle would fake his own death -- probably a flamboyant one.

Well, as we know, I was wrong. Edison just fizzled meekly out, morphing into a run-of-the-mill vendor providing ordinary supplemental services to schools. Every so often it still wanly lifts its head and burps out a lie or two as a token gesture to the glory days, then slumps back into its semi-coma. Meanwhile, the national press that was trumpeting Edison as the magical miracle back in the day immediately forgot it had ever heard of Edison. (It also forgot the rule "fool me twice shame on me" and moved on to fall for and trumpet the next magical miracle fads.)

(Were you following this stuff at the time, Alexander?)

Anyway, let's see the prediction! Flamboyant collapse or quiet evolution into some different reform model? How will the press handle this one?

No, no Alexander. Don't elaborate on your prediction; write the story. Take it seriously.

Pull yourself together and use your insight and information to inform a careful, reasoned, honest history of the untold story of the past decade. Somebody will publish it - maybe a series in the Atlantic? You would know if there is any outlet anywhere that will take the chance.

There is a Pulitzer in it, as you know. Use your reporter voice. Start practising with a small story that gives your own voice the respect it deserves. Nobody owns it but you.

When developing this theory you have to keep in mind that old paradigms of reason and collective desire no longer hold the power to change politics in America, and this reform drive is political (ie. driven by money). The reform bubble indeed has popped but does that matter? The powerful, the ones with the money and the press coverage seem to me to only be consolidating their hold. This is post-Bush American where you can have 75% of the country asking the government to raise taxes but it is still a taboo subject for a politician to bring up. Even GOP rank and file agree with this sentiment in polls. That is where we are in America now. This is about money power and so when you get financial managers teaming up with people like Bloomberg and Klein and Rhee and Oprah and Gates, educated opinion and popular support mean nothing. Academics have been over taken by bloated college administrative bodies and are now impotent, knowledge itself is impotent in 2011. Public school teachers have had their unions weaken terribly and can no longer produce anything to counter this corporate power grab. This is not about people anymore, it is about money. The bubble has popped, but the bubble that really popped is democracy.

As a longtime newspaper journalist, I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management; they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage. If they were, this story would have long since been told.

On the other hand, it would still be an attention-getting story that could have major impact -- and also would be the right thing to do.

As a longtime newspaper journalist, I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management; they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage. If they were, this story would have long since been told.

On the other hand, it would still be an attention-getting story that could have major impact -- and also would be the right thing to do.

As a longtime newspaper journalist, I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management; they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage. If they were, this story would have long since been told.

On the other hand, it would still be an attention-getting story that could have major impact -- and also would be the right thing to do.

As a longtime newspaper journalist, I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management; they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage. If they were, this story would have long since been told.

On the other hand, it would still be an attention-getting story that could have major impact -- and also would be the right thing to do.

As a longtime newspaper journalist, I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management; they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage. If they were, this story would have long since been told.

On the other hand, it would still be an attention-getting story that could have major impact -- and also would be the right thing to do.

I'm afraid that there's not a Pulitzer in it. The Pulitzer judges are newspaper industry management they are fully bought into the reformy storyline, and they're not ethical and intellectually honest enough to have their eyes opened by one good piece of coverage..

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.