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Leslie Marshall Pushes Back Against the Elitist Attitudes of O'Reilly and Dana Loesch . . . Why Fund Education, Can't Save the Kids Anyway

Reported by Julie - March 2, 2010 -

On last night's O'Reilly Factor (3/1/10), in the Factor Follow-up Segment, Bill O'Reilly -- a former teacher, for God's sake -- made it clear that President Obama's plan to spend about a billion dollars (a little over $900 million to be accurate) on education, specifically "Grad Nation", is basically throwing good money after bad, because "money is not gonna solve that problem." Memo to Bill: Neither is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Along for the right-wing-spinning ride was Dana Loesch, a less than honest Tea Party organizer and St. Louis radio talk show host (who, coincidentally, has the luxury of home-schooling her own children) and radio talk show host Leslie Marshall, a News Hounds Top Dog. With video.

O'Reilly kicked off the segment by talking about President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" program, and admitted it "seemed to be working in the drop-out precincts," but conversely said, "I . . . know money is not gonna solve that problem . . . ."

Marshall articulately commented that telling these kids "we invest in you, we believe in you" is the proper message, and said that if money is spent wisely, it can make a difference. "These kids feel that we kicked them to the curb," Marshall stated firmly, accurately stating that more teachers, smaller classrooms, computers and advanced technology and after-school programs are integral to advancing education and future opportunities for kids.

Marshall's assertions are, in fact, backed up by Science Daily's Kay Ann Taylor, associate professor of secondary education at K-State, who -- unlike O'Reilly -- doesn't believe that turning our backs on poor children is (to put it in terms Fox can understand), Jesus' way. "There is no simple answer to alleviate poverty, just as there is no simple answer for its embedded state in America . . . However, the common element shared by all is our humanness. People devastated by poverty are not deficient, less than or subhuman. They are not broken; however, the system in which they are embroiled very well may be." Taylor also derided the "No Child Left Behind Act", maintaining, "The No Child Left Behind Act also continues to be a problem, except for students who attend private schools, which are exempt from the act . . . typically children of the powerful, wealthy elite have the opportunity for a private education, as they have for generations . . . The No Child Left Behind Act's scripted curriculum, relentless testing and oppressive mandates create a robotic-like setting for mindless regurgitation of irrelevant and contextually void facts that challenge our most creative, dedicated and culturally responsive teachers ? and run the remainder out of teaching all together."

"Either the public schools are bunch of idiots . . . or it's not about money, and I don't think it's about money, Dana," O'Reilly proclaimed.

Loesch -- what a shocker -- denied money was essential to the education of our kids and claimed, instead, that the government didn't fail the children but "their parents failed them . . . the problem is the home, it starts in the home, nobody failed these kids but their parents." Could be -- but we should do what, let these kids languish and fail and drop out because they have poor parents or bad parents and just can't pull themselves up by their bootstraps at ten years old? Teabaggers . . . SMH.

Loesch went on to say that she home schools her own kids because the St. Louis city schools "have lost accreditation." While that's true -- due to "years of budget problems and academic failures" -- it doesn't necessarily track that it made the education system in St. Louis worse. As State Education Commissioner Kent King said, "The loss of accreditation typically should not affect students' scholarships or future school acceptances." I would imagine that if Loesch were not in a position to keep her kids at home and home-school them -- if, for example, she had to work two jobs -- and they were instead forced to be in the public school system, she might be a little less willing to look askance at the government throwing money at education.

O'Reilly sneered at poor children from uneducated families, saying, "When you have a student who goes to a school with no guidance from home, Leslie -- and this is where liberals go off the rails, all right? -- liberals expect the society to correct that wrong that Dana's pointing out. Society can't correct it . . . if the kid does, never sees a book, has chaos in the home all the time . . . all they hear is garbage, gramatically incorrect speaking, and I'm not being a snob, but . . . when they walk in the school they don't know how to do anything. Society's not gonna be able to right that wrong . . . it cannot make the kid compete with the child who has books in the home and is educated like Dana's children . . . ." As a former teacher, O'Reilly should know that schools can do just that -- and as a liberal "going off the rails," I damn well believe that the government should contribute a billion dollars so the playing field is leveled. It sounded to me that O'Reilly was truly saying that kids with poor home lives -- and in his mind, apparently, the poverty that often creates chaos is irrelevant -- are hopeless, and that only kids with well-off parents who can afford to fill their homes with books and speak proper English are deserving of a decent education. The rest of them -- forget about 'em, they can't compete, and we as a nation shouldn't give them the tools so they can succeed.

And, as Science Daily's Taylor noted (and this is for you, O'Reilly and Loesch), "Another destructive and common stereotype held by teachers [and Fox News pundits] is that parents of poor children do not care about their education . . . They cite parents' lack of involvement or attendance as a reason. However, they fail to understand that poor parents love and care about their children and their education just as every parent does, and that their lack of involvement or attendance may be due to working several jobs, unreliable transportation or numerous other factors."

Marshall did a nice push-back, telling O'Reilly that she disagreed, and saying, "Bill, you're right, it does take a village, but let's talk about the village being school. If I'm a really lousy mother and I do speak ebonics . . . when you put the kids into school, not only do they have the education, not only are they learning to speak properly, not only do they have programs hopefully after school they can be a part of . . . we have the opportunity to save that child and to turn the tide from what is happening at home."

"Some of the kids can be saved . . . some can be, but most can't be," O'Reilly said dismissively. To bolster his argument, O'Reilly touted the Catholic school system -- "60 kids and one nun" -- and bragged how, by second grade, kids could read and write and speak properly. What O'Reilly forgot to mention is that, according to the National Catholic Educational Association, the average cost per student to attend Catholic school is about $3,100 a year. The other thing O'Reilly didn't note? 70% of Catholic students are white, which would seem to indicate that people of color, in minority communities, aren't exactly lining up with the available cash to educate their kids in the Catholic -- rich, white -- tradition. Just as parents working multiple jobs can't home school their kids, as Loesch does, parents with little money can't send their kids to Catholic school, the utopia touted by elitist O'Reilly.

O'Reilly gave Loesch 30 seconds for a tirade, and she used it to tout the voucher system for education, giving the kids "a golden ticket, a Willy Wonka golden ticket" to go and get a "better education at a better school with better teachers and better administrators." Hmmm . . . if, as Loesch stated earlier, the problems with these kids start at home, and should all be cured at home, and if education can't help these kids because the parents are wash-ups, what in the world do we need a voucher system for? Why educate them at all?

Marshall used her 15 seconds wisely to push back against the Catholic school solution -- graciously not acknowledging that O'Reilly offered Loesch 30 seconds and she only got 15 (to be fair, Loesch only used up about 20, thank God) -- saying, "I don't think we should put people in black burqas with rulers hitting you on the hand -- and I think you guys feared that nun . . . we have to target those groups . . . ."

So, let me see if I have this right. If the parents are wash-ups the kids don't deserve saving. If parents are too poor and working too hard to get actively involved in their kids' education, the kids don't deserve saving. If the parents don't have books in the house, the kids can't compete and we should just give up on them. If the kids have a troubled home life, when they walk into school we should just kick 'em to the curb, because clearly they'll never overcome it.

President Obama's education proposal offers $900 million "to states and school districts that agree to drastically change or even shutter their worst performing schools . . . many schools continue to struggle to get children to graduation, a profound problem in a rich, powerful nation . . . Obama said the crisis hurts individual kids and the nation as a whole, shattering dreams and undermining an already poor economy." That's what I'm talkin' about.

The "pull yourselves up by the bootstraps" mentality shared by O'Reilly and Loesch is destructive to kids struggling to forge ahead. Despite the cavalier attitude shared by the teabagger and the rich guy, we as a nation can't punish kids because of the deeds of their parents, or the poverty of their parents, or because they live in a community without the property tax revenues to adequately fund the school system. O'Reilly earns a gajillion more dollars a year than I do -- but if the government wants to use my money to help kids build their futures, have at it. I'll give gladly. As John Steinbeck once said, "If you're in trouble, or hurt or need - go to the poor people. They're the only ones that'll help - the only ones."

It's almost as if . . . he were watching Fox News.