As the country seeks school reform, and states scramble to qualify for more stimulus funding in the Race to the Top, I’d like to see Oprah regularly address "what works" and "what we should be doing" in schools nationwide. This should not be a one-time show, but a regular, even weekly, feature of her programming.
Oprah could organize a weekly segment entitled "Best Practice" - which is a buzzword for figuring out what works in the classroom. One week she could focus on literacy and reading instruction by featuring Cris Tovani's books, "I Read It, but I Don't Get It" and "Do I Really Have to Teach Reading." She could follow this with shows on Everyday Math and other controversial math programs, and the issue of a "national curriculum," as well as issues of standardized testing and how much they should matter. She could discuss teacher training, foreign education systems, the importance of arts and activities, and controversies like charter schools, voucher systems, and equality in funding.
Other shows could spotlight "college readiness" and the need for more associate degree seekers and career and technical education. She could feature Dr. David Conley, a Pew Center researcher and author of "College Knowledge" - another great Oprah Book Club possibility. Related to this, Oprah could highlight a reform study called Tough Choices, Tough Times, and spotlight the reforms happening in New Hampshire which may allow high school graduation at sixteen for students entering community colleges and technical schools.
With the theme of "Change" in America, Oprah offers an excellent venue for the regular emphasis that the system needs. If you agree, do me a favor and cut and paste this post into the "Show Recommendation" section of Oprah's website.