I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Save Valerie Strauss from Jeff Bezos

So Mr. Amazon is buying the Washington Post - gosh, I haven't been this excited since Kate named the baby...

Honestly, who cares? Newspapers are dying, and everyone knows it. Why should we give a flying fig?

Oh, yeah - that:
There's one area where Bezos has been hyper-active, but largely unknown to the general public: education reform. A look at the Bezos Family Foundation, which was founded by Jackie and Mike Bezos but is financed primarily by Jeff Bezos, reveals a fairly aggressive effort in recent years to press forward with a neoliberal education agenda:
—The Bezos Foundation has donated to Education Reform Now, a nonprofit organization that funds attack advertisements against teachers' unions and other advocacy efforts to promote test-based evaluations of teachers. Education Reform Now also sponsors Democrats for Education Reform.
—The Bezos Foundation provided $500,000 to NBC Universal to sponsor the Education Nation, a media series devoted to debating high-stakes testing, charter schools, and other education reforms.
—The Bezos Foundation provided over $100,000 worth of Amazon stock to the League of Education Voters Foundation to help pass the education reform in Washington State. Last year, the group helped pass I-1240, a ballot measure that created a charter school system in Washington State. In many states, charter schools open the door for privatization by inviting for-profit charter management companies to take over public schools that are ostensibly run by non-profits.
Other education philanthropy supported by the Bezos Foundation include KIPP, Teach for America, and many individual charter schools, including privately funded math and science programs across the country.
But will Bezos' interest in changing education policy affect his control of the Post? Only time will tell.
As always, bravo to the great Lee Fang for reporting on this. I just have one addendum:

The best mainstream media education journalist working today is Valerie Strauss - an employee of the Washington-Bezos Post.

Strauss is one of the very few journalists working for a corporate media outfit who is willing to call out reformy-types when they spew the latest Gates-appoved platitude. She does more than just report the objections to the corporate reform agenda; she takes the time to understand them. Strauss stands head-and-shoulders above almost any other education journalist in her commitment to giving both sides of the reform debate a chance to be heard.

If Jeff Bezos wants the Washington Post to remain a credible source of news and opinion, he must keep Valerie Strauss in her position. 

Perhaps we could let him know how we feel - politely, of course.

Jeff Bezos, please remember: it doesn't get any better than Valerie Strauss.


giuseppe said...

Maybe super duper billionaire, Jeff Bezos, could spend some of his vast fortune on the overheated Amazon warehouses?

CrunchyMama said...

Since the WaPo put up its paywall a couple months ago, the dialog on The Answer Sheet, which used to be fast and furious, has dropped off considerably. There's a little more action earlier in the month as we all get our next 20 free articles, and some posts still see a fair amount of action - particularly as readers get better at working around the paywall (linking into articles from other sources like Facebook and even Google) - but the post frequency has also dropped off, and the level of discourse isn't the same

If the Post is (or ever was?) truly serious about keeping The Answer Sheet up and running, they would have considered exempting the blog (and other popular WaPo blogs) from the paywall. The difficulties started before Bezos came on the scene, and it seems that there is probable cause to be more worried now.