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Education Ad Wars

by Christine Stuart | Apr 16, 2012 11:09am
(10) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Media Matters

Screen grab of second ad

The teacher unions and StudentsFirst, the organization headed by former District of Columbia schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, aren’t the only groups pouring money into the public debate over education reform in the state.

The Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the state’s largest business lobby which made education a priority this year, is taking to the airwaves Monday with two television and radio advertisements in support of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s education proposal. The statewide campaign will run in broadcast and cable television markets, including Fairfield County, and the two radio spots, including a Spanish-speaking version, will run during morning and evening drive time.

The first ad called “Put Children First” says parent groups, school administrators, and business and community leaders support Malloy’s plan.

“Shouldn’t Connecticut move ahead with real reform?” the narrator asks as the ominous music gets more upbeat. “Put children first. Keep the promise of a great education. The opportunity for success. Support the Governor’s reform proposals.”

The second ad, called “Poverty Is Not An Excuse,” challenges what Malloy has been hearing as he travels the state to talk to the public about his reforms: “Poverty plays a big role in Connecticut’s education crisis.”

Advocates touting Malloy’s bill say teachers are using poverty as an excuse. But others say it’s impossible to ignore the impact that poverty has on academic achievement. They say Malloy’s bill does little to address the issue of poverty, placing most of the responsibility on teachers who will receive tenure based in part on a new evaluation system that considers student performance.

“In states like Massachusetts, low income students dramatically outperform their peers in Connecticut. Why?” the ad’s narrator asks and then answers: “Because those states attract and keep great teachers and principals, and intervene quickly to fix failing schools.”

Both ads end with a call to action asking the public to call their legislators.

The ads run counter to the message the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, is pushing with its new ad released last week that calls Malloy’s education proposal a “bad science experiment.” The ad asks the public to support the reform package proposed by the legislature’s Education Committee.

Meanwhile, there’s little being done at the state Capitol to forge consensus over the issue. Lawmakers are talking to lawmakers and the teachers’ unions while the governor is talking to the public about his proposal. The two sides have no formal talks scheduled and there’s only three weeks left in the legislative session.

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(10) Comments

posted by: Linda12 | April 16, 2012  12:28pm

Christine - Sorry, but Students First is not grass roots, maybe “hired guns on astroturf” - I can post articles and information later, but Michelle Rhee does not get her money from average people. She has raked in millions from: Rupert Murdoch, Bill Gates, Walton foundation and others.

Before an organization is listed or is promoting themselves as grass roots, they probably should show that their contributions primarily come from average citizens.

One great article and a great quote:

On the other side are public school students, their families, their teachers, and believers in the link between democracy and public education. The first side has money, powerful political connections, and an infrastructure of nonprofit organizations with paid staff. The other side has this: the ability to become a true grassroots movement. This looks like an unequal contest. But with sustained effort, citizen activists at the grassroots can trump hired guns on astroturf.

<a >link</a>

More on the self-appointed Grand Poobah of the reform movement coming up…talk about a fraud.

posted by: Linda12 | April 16, 2012  12:32pm

Another inaccuracy:

“In states like Massachusetts, low income students dramatically outperform their peers in Connecticut. Why?” the ads narrator asks. “Because those states attract and keep great teachers and principals. And intervene quickly to fix failing schools,“ the narrator answers.

Massachusetts (after reading and researching) began a push for funding pre-school and early childhood education 20 years ago, which is paying off. The reform movements these ads refer to haven’t even kicked in yet - tying teachers evaluations to test scores (blackmail by Arne Duncan and the Race to Nowhere) will not even begin until 2014.

I am not sure if 20 years of support for preschool and K-3 would suffice as “intervening quickly”.

But they bank on the average person listening to a radio ad will not know the difference.

posted by: Speak up | April 16, 2012  12:40pm

Check out the latest with Rheeform. See how sly and tricky Queen Rhee has become to get “grass roots” supporters - she can’t get them the old fashioned way, so she has to create craftily worded petitions that sign you up as a supporter:



posted by: TerryW | April 16, 2012  12:52pm

What a scam Rhee has orchestrated and she is backed by billionaires. If Students First is her organization, why does she create other names/acronyms to lobby in CT?

With the 50 million she received from Rupert Murdoch, she could have opened a few schools, set up her staff, created a curriculm and she really would have put students first and then Ms. Rhee would actually have to look at these children everyday.

With all these wealthy donors, they could even have free tuition. 

read about that here



posted by: brutus2011 | April 16, 2012  1:18pm


This is getting exhausting—the top-down education folks are trying to influence public opinion and no one really pays attention to the bottom, or the classroom and its students and adults.

I have been baying at the wind or perhaps have been jousting with windmills.

So, one last time.

But try listening to Prof. Martin Haberman’s take on this whole reform thing.

Google him and see where it takes you. He is articulate and any time spent considering his view will not be wasted.

As for me, I gotta take a break—I’m starting to see windmills growing tails!

posted by: Linda12 | April 16, 2012  3:22pm

Hired Guns on Astroturf:
How to Buy and Sell School Reform

Full link

posted by: Linda12 | April 16, 2012  4:15pm

Read Pelto on

Why is Rhee’s astroturf using a fake front name in Connecticut?

posted by: CONconn | April 16, 2012  4:53pm

No facts… just propaganda.

posted by: Linda12 | April 16, 2012  5:36pm

Murdoch/Students First connection and why they need to keep testing the kids, all in the name of reform:

Rupert Murdoch benefits. Murdoch said that public education is a $500 billion market waiting desperately to be transformed — right before he bought Wireless Corporation. Wireless was awarded a no-bid $27 million contract to track student performance throughout New York state, which was pulled back after the News Corp phone hacking scandal. Despite the scandal, New York state and 10 other states have agreed to give confidential teacher and student data for free to a shared learning collaborative funded by Bill Gates and run by Murdoch’s Wireless Corp. Wireless received $44 million for the project
Former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein benefits. He is expected to make as much as $4.5 million this year working for Murdoch and Wireless Corp — even as he takes his pension for working eight years as chancellor. He continues to try to influence New York education policy and practices with the newly formed StudentsFirstNY .

The culture of testing has created an enormous opportunity for profit for those connected with the testing and data industry as well as well-paid professional consultants. In the war on public schools, commonly referred to as ‘school reform,’ the weapon of choice is the test. Those tests are the basis for battering public school teachers. They are the basis for closing schools. They are the rock on which the whole corporate school reform industry stands. Without test scores as the bottom line, that industry would collapse.

posted by: ConcernedVoter | April 16, 2012  7:09pm

I get a kick out of the “poverty as an excuse” line when it is used by millionaires.  Of course poverty isn’t an excuse if you have millions!  It is what you want if you want to continue to strip mine the nation and have conveniently found a new target in public schools.  Don’t believe these poorly disguised “reformers”.