The school reform organization redefinED recently posted the text of a speech by Campbell Brown, a former CNN host “turned ed reform advocate.” The speech was given at the American Federation for Children summit in Florida, and in it Campbell expressed the sentiments of many who are exasperated with slow progress of the educational freedom movement. Here are a few excerpts:
It never ceases to amaze me that this very simple idea, that a parent who wants to try to find a school, a better school to try to give their child a better life, should have that choice. The idea that this is somehow controversial is amazing to me.
You can’t question a parent’s right to do what they believe is best for their child. And so, as a journalist, I did what I sort of knew how to do, which was to write about it and research it and try to talk about some of these issues, the inequity in our system and how special interests and the education establishment were working together to try to stop meaningful change, and prevent parents from having choices. And in doing so, through writing and speaking, I learned a valuable lesson about power and truth and accountability.
Campbell related the specifics of the controversy and then said this:
And do you know what the [teacher] union’s response was? They just said, it wasn’t true. They said it wasn’t true. They said the reporting wasn’t true. They didn’t try to make excuses or justify it, or have an argument in support of it. They just said it wasn’t true. They just lied. And I didn’t know how to respond. I could have argued if they had argued with me. But they didn’t. They just lied. But I had the evidence. I had these documents right here that show this to be true. And they just said it wasn’t. And there was no accountability. And I guess it was a shock to me. Because I had covered politics for a long time. I was a White House correspondent. I was on Capitol Hill. I had covered a million campaigns. I had been lied to plenty. I had always felt that even at the highest levels of government, when you exposed a lie, when you caught someone, there was some accountability. Somebody would pay for it. And my first encounter with the teachers union, I felt there was no accountability. There was this special interest that had all of this power, and they could lie without consequence.
There’s still a lot of work on the political side to be done. But as frustrating, I think, as this can be, at times, this was one of those moments where you know nothing is as inspiring, nothing makes me want to stand up and cheer more than seeing a parent fight for their kid.
Read the entire speech at redefinED.com.