Why Is Public Television Against Public Schools?
You’d think that public television would support public education, but you’d be wrong. The Public Broadcasting System (PBS) has gotten in bed with the billionaires and conservatives who want to privatize our public schools. PBS has nary a word to say about the big money — from folks like the Walton family (Walmart), Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Eli Broad, business titan and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Joel Klein (former NYC schools chancellor and now a Murdoch employee), and their ilk — that has been funding the attack on public schools and teachers unions. They’ve donated big bucks to advocacy groups, think tanks, and candidates for school boards who echo the their party line.
PBS and its local stations have fallen all over themselves to promote “Waiting for Superman,” a documentary film that could easily be mistaken for a commercial on behalf of charter schools. In contrast, missing from the lineups on most PBS affiliates is a remarkable new documentary film, “Go Public,” about the day in the life of a public school system in California. The film celebrates public schools without ignoring their troubles. Americans who care about public schools should contact their local PBS affiliates and urge them to broadcast “Go Public.”
On PBS, there’s a virtual broadcast blackout of major critics of this assault on public education. One of them is historian Diane Ravitch, author of ten books about education, including The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education(2010) and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools(2013). As Assistant Secretary of Education in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, she was a fan of charters and vouchers, but has since recanted her support. Ravitch got a few minutes on the “Charlie Rose Show” last year but has otherwise been persona-non-grata on PBS. (Bill Moyers, whose show is independently produced but which is broadcast on many of PBS affiliates, interviewed Ravitch several weeks ago in PBS Against Public Schools: