Since I have worked in Amsterdam most of this week I have no idea how these two American-related news stories were reported on in the USA:
- Oprah Winfrey opens a school in South Africa
- US Senator Barack Obama travels to Kenya
These stories were extensively reported on via CNN International this week so I couldn't help but think about issues related to these two goodwill missions. When I saw these news stories my first thought was -- "hey, these two people both work in/represent Chicago and they are highlighting problems in Africa that exist in Chicago......................"
Let me be clear -- I commend Ms. Winfrey for her work to create the "Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls" -- http://allafrica.com/stories/200608211562.html -- which will provide educational instruction for 450 girls from grades 7 through 12. Unfortunately I did not see Ms. Winfrey's two shows in April 2006 which were dedicated to the US education system -- http://www.allianceforschoolchoice.org/media_center.aspx?IITypeID=3&IIID=2611 - but I am hoping the topic of "school choice" was discussed since Mr. Winfrey is clearly in favor of school choice in South Africa. One question I did not get answered in the media coverage I reviewed is whether or not Ms. Winfrey's Academy will have a teachers' labor union?
Let me call on Ms. Winfrey to do a follow up show solely focused on school choice by going on location in Milwaukee for the annual meeting of the State Policy Network, www.spn.org, which is focused on education reform issues from October 4 to 7, 2006. If school choice - as evidenced by the big check Oprah wrote for the Academy - is the solution for poor South African children let's bring this solution to American schools.
This Academy news is indeed exciting but I did not want to overlook the opportunity to call on the "power of Oprah" to help us achieve 100% school choice in the USA. Perhaps an immersion school/charter school should be created in Chicago focused on the African continent so we can produce a generation of future leaders better equipped to assist Africans with improving their quality of life. Speaking of Chicago -- not only do they need further education reform but as is commonly known Cook County (the home of Chicago) needs to clean up its institutional corruption which has included dead people casting votes in elections and lucrative city contracts to "businessmen" but where does the US Senator from Illinois/Chicago Barack Obama call for an end to corruption? Yes, in Kenya of course -- the birthplace of his father!!!
Senator Obama is quoted following his meeting with Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki this week as saying, "Kenya does not yet have the kind of transparency and accountability that encourages development..............corruption is one of the major impediments to bringing in foreign investment." (IHT, August 26/27, 2006) Did he say Kenya but meant to say Chicago?? Perhaps Senator Obama should stay home in Illinois to address the concerns about Chicago corruption raised by this FBI agent:
"I never cease to be amazed at the level of corruption in this city," said Thomas Kneir, the soon-to-retire boss of the FBI's Chicago office, after federal prosecutors unveiled criminal charges against two alleged bribe-taking city officials with a promise of many more defendants in the days ahead.
So kudos to Oprah and a wake up call to Obama this week!!! Yes, this is my "limited government is better" bias coming out here but I have to highlight the fact that a private sector billionaire -- Oprah -- has clearly done more to improve the lives of the world's citizens versus the efforts of a "public servant" -- Obama -- armed only with the ability to deliver a great speech but not any substance.
Let's all jump up and down on Oprah's couch celebrating her support of school reform!!
You go girl,