Retirement sucks! Although I officially retired from the PBS NewsHour last August, it hasn’t worked. I am back, but not as an even-handed and scrupulously objective reporter. I’m now an activist supporting public education through “Stars for Schools,“my new not-for-profit organization
If you are wondering about the catchy, clever name, here’s the backstory: With the help of focus groups, we chose “Stars for Schools” because of the double-entendre. ‘Stars’ can refer to outstanding public performers and the ‘gold stars’ that are often affixed to students’ work by their teachers, particularly in the early grades.
I’ve been reaching out to celebrities (stars!) to engage them in this work. Among those who have already agreed to participate or have been invited but haven’t yet responded are Matt Damon, Claire Danes, Joe Biden, Oprah Winfrey, George Clooney, Mike Huckabee, Jane Pauley, Spike Lee, Charles Barkley, Billy Jean King, Steven Spielberg, Ryan Gosling, John Legend, Tina Fey, Steph Curry, Charlie Rose, Gwen Ifill, Judy Woodruff, Tony Bennett, Steven Colbert, Whoopi Goldberg, Marco Rubio, J.K. Rowling, Monica Lewinsky, LeBron James, Johnny Mathis, Peyton Manning, Jim Lehrer, Amy Schumer, Bill Clinton, Laura Bush, Justin Bieber, Mitt Romney, Samantha Bee, Chris Rock, Helen Mirren, Kim Kardashian, Will Ferrell, John Travolta, Jon Stewart, and Michelle Rhee. The list goes on and on…..
If you are a big star, I urge you to sign yourself up. Even if you aren’t a big enough star, you can still be involved by donating to contribution at starsforschools.org. It’s tax-deductible!
Every year “Stars for Schools” will sponsor a Day of Action to call attention to the vital role that schools play in American life.
We’re calling the 2016 Day of Action “Celebrity Crossing Guard Day,” when some of America’s biggest stars will don the crossing guard’s bright yellow (orange in some states) uniforms and actually do the important work of making sure our children get across dangerous intersections and into their schools safely. That’s right: these dedicated men and women aren’t just sitting on the sidelines; they’re in the mix, in the arena. Of course, this media event will attract hours of local and national television coverage and set the social media world of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram afire.
The 2017 “Day of Action“is going to be even more dramatic. We intend to superimpose the faces of America’s best teachers on Mount Rushmore. Over a 24-hour period, 5,760 teachers will replace Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson and Teddy Roosevelt, each teacher’s image on all four faces for 15 seconds. This event will be live-streamed, of course. We will begin soliciting nominations later this year.
“Stars for Schools” is also going to change the public image of teachers, who for too long have been stereotyped as boring and unsexy. In fact, in the latest Gallup/Phi Delta Kappan poll, teachers scored lower on the ‘Sexy’ scale than even dentists and accountants. That has to change, and I believe that these subtly suggestive T-shirts will turn that image on its head.
DRAMA TEACHERS DO IT BACKSTAGE!
BIOLOGY TEACHERS KNOW ALL YOUR BODY PARTS!
MUSIC TEACHERS DO IT RHYTHMICALLY!
BAND TEACHERS KNOW THE SCORE!
LET A COMPUTER TEACHER PUSH YOUR BUTTONS!
GUIDANCE TEACHERS CAN SHOW YOU THE WAY
GEOMETRY TEACHERS KNOW THE ANGLES
CHEMISTRY TEACHERS DO IT PERIODICALLY
When they see their children’s teachers wearing these snappy slogans, parents will certainly see them in a new light. Shirts are $39.95 and come in four sizes, S, M, L and XL.
Frankly, I had expected to work from ‘inside the machine’ to reform the system, by serving on the Board of Directors of either Pearson or McGraw-Hill. After serving on the Pearson Board for a very short time a year ago, I fully expected the mega-company to approach me again, but nary a word.
As for McGraw-Hill, it dumped me from the Committee that selects the winners of the McGraw Prize in Education. I’d been serving on that Committee since 2012 and was awaiting word about the time and place of this year’s meeting—when, out of the blue, I saw a Twitter announcement of the winners. So I guess this means no seat for me on the McGraw-Hill Board. No big deal. I am better off working from outside the establishment, through “Stars for Schools.”
I urge you to support “starsforschools.org” today. Contribute today if you can. Or wait until tomorrow, April 2, but please don’t delay…..