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Posted at 2:55 PM ET, 10/ 8/2010

P.S.: Stephen Colbert blew it on schools, too

By Valerie Strauss

I wrote yesterday about how Lewis Black, on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on Tuesday night, missed a great opportunity to use humor to skewer the nonsense that is today’s school reform movement. Stephen Colbert did the same thing on his “The Colbert Report” last night.

Black did a bit on school reform, referring to the new education film "Waiting for Superman" uncritically and actually mischaracterizing charter schools.

Then, last night, Colbert had as a guest Davis Guggenheim, the man behind “Waiting for Superman,” which portrays a false image of the crisis in public schools.

Instead of challenging Guggenheim’s assumptions, which would have made for a really funny bit, Colbert accepted them as truth.

He also allowed Guggenheim to present himself as more even-handed in assessing blame for public school woes than he does in his movie, which bashes teachers and blames teachers unions. On Colbert, Guggenheim blamed “all of us” for the crisis in public education. In the movie, Guggenheim leaves the impression that charter schools are the way out of the crisis; on Colbert, he concedes that charters can't be the answer.

As I wrote yesterday, I don’t get why Stewart and Colbert, who relish exposing hypocrisy and nuttiness in other arenas, haven’t taken a real shot at education reform.

They’d be doing a real public service, but more important for them, they’d get a lot of laughs.

CORRECTION: The first version of this post misspelled Colbert's first name. It is correct above.

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By Valerie Strauss  | October 8, 2010; 2:55 PM ET
Categories:  School turnarounds/reform  | Tags:  charter schools, colbert nation, comedy central, davis guggenheim, jon stewart, lewis black, school reform, steven colbert, the colbert report, the daily show, waiting for superman  
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Colbert pointed out the essence of school "reform." They aren't modern-day supermen. They are Neitzschian Supermen who worship their willpower as a transformational force.

Posted by: johnt4853 | October 8, 2010 3:30 PM | Report abuse

I am disappointed in both Stewart and Colbert. I wish they both knew the truth.

Posted by: educationlover54 | October 8, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

At least we have The Onion! Their piece on "Are Standardized Test Biased Against Students Who Don't Give a Sh,,," is brilliant!

Posted by: lizwisniewski | October 9, 2010 7:27 AM | Report abuse

I like Colbert but it really says something for this country when a columnist thinks it is necessary for the comedians to point out the insanity of national policies.

Americans have accepted NCLB for almost 10 years which in reality is nothing more than a proficient child in every pot.

We have the President claiming our economy is dependent upon school children as millions of Americans jobs simply disappear to cheap foreign workers.

Last year the President was telling Americans about the sexy jobs in caulking and installing installation.

And then there is the insanity of the Republicans and candidates for election.

The problem is not Colbert but rather America where absurd national policy and the political insanity of the Republicans are accepted as sanity.

Posted by: bsallamack | October 9, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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