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Media: The Colbert / Stewart Divide On School Reform

Picture 103 Reformy types may have Stephen Colbert eating out of their hands (with multiple appearances by Geoff Canada and Joel Klein and all those shout outs for DonorsChoose), but recent evidence suggests that the traditional educator crowd has Jon Stewart, son of a teacher, on their side.  He went off on teacher critics last night (see below), and is scheduled to have Diane Ravitch on his show Thursday night.  Oh nos!


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I used to be a big fan of Stewart's, but didn't get Colbert, but now I do and I love his show.

At first, I, too, thought that Colbert was soft on the "reformy" types, but then I realized that he doesn't really take a stand with any guests and when he does it's in a very subtle way. I actually thought he kind of mocked Joel Klein, like when he started talking about child labor, for example. Same with Canada when he asked, "Is it the teachers unions or the teachers unions."

It seems like no matter who you are, it's very difficult to be a guest on his show because he doesn't allow them to answer questions in any substance, and some of the questions are just plain ridiculous, on purpose, of course. I think his focus is more on mocking O'Reilly and other pundits.

Probably more than you wanted to hear. Great job on your blog lately, btw, and I really like the long form stuff you've done.

Do you watch Colbert regularly? If I were a reformy type (and I realize that's a big stretch) I'd steer as far away from Colbert as possible. He shreds nearly everyone who comes on; it's satirical farce, all the time, whether you're on the left or right.

Stewart, on the other hand, actually reads what I assume are the detailed Cliff Notes prepared by his staff, on the publications of those who appear on his show. I'm fully expecting him to be asking Diane good questions, and there's nobody on the planet better prepared to answer.

Wait, since when is DonorsChoose "reformy"? I have trouble seeing how the online equivalent of a school bake sale falls into an ideological camp, even if it did get into the W4S promos.

you might not agree, but i think it's reformy because it's hip and modern and gets a lot of publicity but doesn't address any of education's fundamental needs -- it is a high tech bake sale, the TFA of school funding fixes. the nonreformy version would be a adequate education lawsuit over school funding or something along those lines.

I would never have thought of Donors Choose as reformy until it teamed up with Waiting for Superman on a promotion. That pretty much clinches it.


I appreciate your insight to Colbert as I am new to Colbert and was trying to determine if he is a reformer and his platform is a bit confusing in addition to the fact that I do not like anyone, especially a host, turning on their guests. Also, by infusing comedy, the importance of the issues discussed are lost to one liners and sarcastic rhetoric, which I think we have had enough of in dealing with the serious issue of educational reform.

Thanks for the insight, as Colbert is an unusual figure as is Stewart who looks like he is in desperate need of a telepromter.

Jeff Cudworth

I love, love, love Steve Colbert, but I think you're exactly right, Jeff, on the guests--that the importance of the issues they discuss are lost, and that can be frustrating. But still, it's good to laugh, and the rest of the show is so smart.

I think DonorsChoose did more than endorse WFS, they "paid" people to vow to see it. I am not so offended by the paying part but vowing? That ties it right into the quasi-religious Rhee/Reform/TFA crowd perfectly. They did not back down the slightest when there was a small cancel Donors Choose movement either. That tells you something as well. A non-partisan organization interested in simply "helping" teachers would not want to appear to take sides in The education debate of the day.

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