Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

Criticizing Ty’Sheoma Bethea

Posted in Barack Obama, Economy, education, politics by allisonkilkenny on February 27, 2009

Joan Walsh, Salon

michellehugI thought it would come from Michelle Malkin or Rush Limbaugh, but Malkin is too busy planning her anti-tax tea parties while Rush gets ready for his close-up at the Conservative Political Action Committee this weekend (which is a collection of nuts so nutty even Sarah Palin stayed away).

No, it was the conservative Washington Times that cast the first stone at Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the Dillon, S.C., teenager who wrote to Congress seeking stimulus funds for her shamefully dilapidated school. Obama used her statement, “We are not quitters,” as the coda of his speech Tuesday night, but now the Moon-owned paper tells us what’s wrong with Bethea, in an editorial with the condescending headline, ‘Yes, Ty’Sheoma, there is a Santa Claus.”

Obama “presented” Bethea “as a plucky girl from a hopeless school who took it on herself to write the president and Congress asking for much needed help,” the Times began, ominously. Wait, she’s not a plucky girl from a hopeless school? The editorial depicts her instead as a player in Obama’s “mere political theater” because the president has been using her school, J.V. Martin, as a “political prop” since he first visited in 2005. Wow. Dastardly.  I’m getting the picture: Obama, that slick Democrat opportunist, has repeatedly visited one of the poorest schools in South Carolina, a state that voted for John McCain.  You just know he leaves with his pockets stuffed with cash every time he makes the trip.

It gets worse. The Times insists Dillon residents haven’t been callous about conditions at Ty’Sheoma’s school; in fact they passed a 2007 bond measure to reconstruct it. That’s true, but it’s only part of the story: The Chicago Tribune’s Howard Witt reported that the bond measure “ran aground of the national credit crisis: No bank will loan the school district the construction funds.” 

Facts be damned. To the Times, the plight of J.V. Martin is actually a story of how locals can solve their own problem, but Ty’Sheoma and Obama have hijacked it to make it an example of how only the federal government can help. Obama said Ty’Sheoma’s letter reflected “a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.” The Times disagrees: “What is on display is not responsibility but irresponsibility. This is the new reality in America, that those with political pull will benefit, those without will not … Connections are replacing competence as a measure of a person’s worth.”

Got it? Ty’Sheoma Bethea, she’s no enterprising teen from a broken-down school. She sounds like the new Jack Abramoff, using her “political pull” and “connections” to benefit herself.

Yes, they’re that crazy.

VIDEO: NYU Students Occupy Cafeteria

Posted in activism, education, politics by allisonkilkenny on February 19, 2009

Democracy Now


Here in New York, several dozen student activists have barricaded themselves inside a cafeteria at New York University. The group Take Back NYU has submitted several demands, including the establishment of a socially responsible committee, a full disclosure of the school’s annual budget and support for Palestinian students in the Gaza Strip.

Student: “The first two orders of the socially responsible finance committee will be an in-depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestine.”

Video behind the cut of the 2-18-09 Take Back NYU occupation


For New Yorkers:

Posted in Barack Obama, education, politics by allisonkilkenny on December 15, 2008

 To the NYC Congressional Delegation and Advisors to President-Elect Obama–


Joe Klein, ready to bring America an educational Katrina

Joe Klein, ready to bring America an educational Katrina

We write regarding the consideration of NYC Chancellor Joel Klein for a position in the Obama Administration.

We are aware that Chancellor Klein has received national attention for his supposed achievements in improving public education in NYC. Sadly, the reputation of Chancellor Klein’s administration is based on myth, not reality.

The last seven years of the Klein administration has seen not a NYC “miracle” but rather:

  • a public relations exercise camouflaging the systematic elimination of parental involvement;
  • an obsessively test-driven culture;
  • a growing atmosphere of fear, disillusionment, and intimidation experienced by professionals; and
  • a flagrant manipulation of school data in contradiction to study after study and results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

New York City has one of the lowest rates of graduation of black and Latino students of any city in the country – with the most recent data showing a persistent drop in the number of children of color gaining admission to the city’s highest performing schools – and an appalling achievement gap that has been virtually untouched during Klein’s tenure. NYC’s teachers, those closest to the impact of the Klein years, give the chancellor a 20% approval rating, lower than even President Bush.

As parents and teachers, we urge you to eliminate Joel Klein from the list of those being considered for a position in the Obama Administration. His lack of transparency and failure to demonstrate responsiveness to grass roots communities is most assuredly not what we need to move our nation’s education agenda forward.

Sign the petition here.