ASCD Responds to Oprah Winfrey Show’s “Waiting for ‘Superman'” Episode On September 21, 2010, ASCD Executive Director Gene R. Carter wrote an open letter to Oprah Winfrey explaining ASCD’s response to the September 20, 2010, “Waiting for ‘Superman'” episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. A copy of the letter is provided below. September 21, 2010 Dear Ms. Oprah Winfrey: Thank you for choosing to move education to the forefront of the national conversation. The film Waiting for “Superman” is one of many documentaries being released this fall on the state of our nation’s schools, and I hope these films encourage viewers to work with schools in their local communities to ensure that every student in America has the opportunity to learn and achieve. As a career educator and the executive director of ASCD, an education association of 160,000 educators worldwide, I was dismayed that your show on education reform excluded a key demographic from the dialogue: teachers. Yet the research—and your high-profile guests—say a child’s teacher is the most important factor to determining his or her success. Moreover, simplistically dividing a profession of 5 million people into “good teachers” and “bad teachers” misses an important opportunity to show how all educators must continue to learn, develop, and grow throughout their careers. Would we ask a proficient doctor to stop learning new technologies or strategies that may help save a life? No. Our most effective teachers are the ones who pursue professional development not only to sustain student achievement, but also to help teach other educators. In international comparisons, the United States’ education system is often viewed as substandard or lacking. I’ve seen successful international education systems, such as that in Finland, where there is a direct correlation between student achievement and teacher respect. Perhaps we need to focus on how our country, our individual states, and our local communities can better value this high-risk, high-reward profession. What if filmmakers, politicians, philanthropists, and high-profile school leaders demanded that our educators receive the ongoing support they need to help each student in every classroom in America succeed to his or her greatest potential? Now that would make a great focus for your Friday follow-up show. Sincerely, Dr. Gene R. Carter Executive Director ASCD…


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September 24, 2010

What’s needed, Howard argues, is a great streamlining. He’s not calling for deregulation. It’s about giving teachers, doctors and officials the power to actually make decisions and then holding them accountable. Some of their choices will be wrong, Howard acknowledges, but it is better to live in an imperfect world of individual responsibility than it is to live within a dehumanizing legal thicket that seeks to eliminate risk through a tangle of micromanaging statutes.

The other two questioners in particular displayed a sense of entitlement and victimisation that is creeping into the American psyche, in the face of which the President might have wanted to say, “There is a recession on folks, so get a grip.” But he duly reeled off reforms to the student loan system and credit card rules that would help in the future, and said he understood the uncertainties and difficulties families were facing.…


Income inequality is actually declining in Latin America even as it continues to increase in the United States. Economically speaking, the richest nation on earth is starting to resemble a banana republic. The main difference is that the United States is big enough to maintain geographic distance between the villa-dweller and the beggar.

Rome is Burning

September 8, 2010

This is a failure of our basic institutions of production. The job of the market is to bring together willing buyers with willing sellers in order to produce value. This is not happening and as a result literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced.

Let me say that again because I think it fails to sink in – literally trillions of dollars in value are not being produced. Not misallocated. Not spent on programs you don’t approve of or distributed in tax cuts you don’t like. Trillions of dollars in value are not produced at all. Gone from the world entirely. Never to be had, by anyone, anywhere, at any time. Pure unadulterated loss.

Cholesterol is Not the Culprit After All But as INTERHEART and other studies have shown, cholesterol isn’t a serious risk factor for heart disease at all. An earlier study sponsored by the German Ministry of Research and Technology showed that no exact link exists between food cholesterol and blood cholesterol. Even more surprising, in Japan, the cholesterol levels have risen during recent years, yet the number of heart attacks has dropped. The largest health study ever conducted on the risks of heart disease took place in China. Like so many similar studies, the Chinese study found no connection between heart disease and the consumption of animal fats.