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Obama and The Annenberg Challenge -- Is EdWeek Reaching?

| 3 Comments

26politics.jpgThere's lots of interesting stuff in David Hoff's EdWeek profile of Barack Obama and his education background (Obama’s Annenberg Stint Informs White House Bid), but the Obama-Annnenberg connection seems like a reach.

UPDATED SEE BELOW

First and foremost is the notion that Obama "led" the Chicago Annenberg Challenge in any meaningful way. "As a private citizen, he led Chicago’s portion of the Annenberg Challenge school reform initiative financed by the late philanthropist Walter H. Annenberg—an experience that shaped Mr. Obama’s perspective on the critical importance of principals and teachers."

If he did, it's news to me and a lot of folks in Chicago. I wrote a long report about the CAC in 2001 (From Frontline Leader to Rearguard Action PDF) that failed to unearth Obama's name as anyone of any influence -- and never came across his name in an education context in the following six years during which I wrote a book about school reform in Chicago. Obama gets barely a mention in the Chicago Catalyst magazine, which goes back further and deeper than I do.

I don't mind Hoff and EdWeek delving into Obama's education history, and he's clear in other places that Obama's involvement in education is thin, but the Annenberg angle seems like a reach and I'm surprised none of the folks Hoff talked to told him so.

UPDATE: A couple of folks have pointed out that the claims about Obama's involvement in the Annenberg Challenge are from Obama's book and staff as much as from the article, and that they are not new. I'm also told that there is a somewhat parallel dispute about how much Obama actually led the way as a community organizer working on asbestos issues in Chicago's Altgeld Gardens housing project.

3 Comments

Alex, this is a great, great blog. I've been reading you for a couple of weeks now and I'm impressed by your take on the issues as well as the breadth and depth of your coverage. Really excellent. Your piece on media below was an example; you had an ed tie-in but it was a great job of pointing to a larger issue.

In this case I love how you are able to challenge your own employers as an ombudsman might do. It's a real credit to Ed week that they allow you the freedom to speak your mind in that way. I like Obama, but your post reminds us that the candidates tend to do a lot of posturing that involves stretching their previous accomplishments to the breaking point. Frankly I'm more interested in where Obama stands on higher ed, national standards, and NCLB reauthorization than what he did or didn't do in Chicago, but formulating an image seems to be the name of the game.

Keep up the good work, Alex, and I will highlight you on my teensy blog for whatever good it will do.

thanks, ohdave, -- glad you found this useful. yes, edweek deserves credit for letting me do media criticism on this site, even when it includes one of their own pieces. however, i'm not an employee of edweek, and i generally liked the piece.

Thank you Alexander Russo: I have new respect for you.
especially for what you have respectfully stated in this article.

It is not so much the usual as the unspoken.
In many journalistic circles in Chicago a word dare not be breathed about the infamous Senator that would counteract the "hope" the American people are putting into his past for their future.

Therefore, I Thank you for the Breath of Fresh Air, it was truly appreciated.

O'Kema Lewis
District 299 - Chicago
Education Consultant
Article 34 of the
Illinois School Code
LSC Instructor
Title I - Part A & G
and Title III of the NCLB
& Budget /Technical
Support Specialist
on Oracle and Legacy
Outside Expert
PA 094-0875

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