I taped an interview with Randi Kaye of CNN Newsroom on Friday August 17. I was invited to do this interview in response to her earlier interview with Michelle Rhee.

I went to CNN assuming I was invited to express my differences with Rhee, who gets far more airtime than I to present her agenda of attacking US education, smearing teachers, calling for an end to tenure and seniority, and demanding merit pay, charter schools, vouchers, for-profit charter schools, for-profit virtual schools, and more testing.

But there was no discussion of my views, no opportunity to present them. Instead I faced a series of loaded questions intended to put me on the defensive (some of the worst were left out of the televised version). They were “gotcha” questions. What do you say to this? And what about that?

My early response –before the interview aired–may have led them to edit out the first line of questioning, when Randi Kaye claimed that NAEP scale scores showed the “failure” of American education. She didn’t know what an idiotic question that was. I was a member of the board of NAEP for seven years, and no one ever suggested that scale scores were grades; they are a trend line. If her question and assertion had been left in, they would have misled the U.S. public in typical reformer style, but to anyone who knows anything about scale scores, CNN would have revealed its ignorance. The editors were wise to delete it.

She claimed that a score of 250 on a scale of 500 meant that half the nation’s students had a grade of 50, which is failing. This is ridiculous. The most advanced students on the scale–those at the 90th percentile–have a scale score of 276  in fourth grade math, which means they too are failing! Clearly, someone was digging to find the most negative possible “facts” that would make American education look bad. These “facts” happened to be completely false. A scale score is not a grade, it is a trend line. And what she found inconceivable is that the scale scores are at their highest point in history for every group: whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians.

Folks, this woman and her researchers are totally uninformed. And they feed their uninformed views to the American public. This is what is frightening!

The even better news was the wonderful response of readers after the interview aired. Here are a few that I have gathered (and will pass along to CNN). There were many more on Twitter, and on this blog:


Watched both Kaye interviews of yourself and Rhee. Difference was that Rhee was asked how to fix while your statements were challenged. On the whole however I thought you were very successful in replying to her questions. Kaye played devil’s advocate with you unlike her interview with Rhee.

Mike Brocoum


Kaye’s interview is an example of Yellow Journalism. She tried to sensationalize an issue, using extremes, false accusations and innuendo. Unfortunately, Yellow Journalistic strategies are becoming the norm with the third estate.

There was a reason she taped your interview rather than do it live. Kaye’s agenda was not to interview but to attack public education.
Her first stat, showing teacher salaries was an attempt to show some teachers are paid much more than others. She never acknowledged that salaries are affected by cost of living issues in each region, State, and county.

Her most disturbing stunt was to read a letter from a student who obviously has some learning issues. Was this child learning disabled or perhaps a recent immigrant learning a new language? What is going on in the life of this child? Living in extreme poverty, parents? How old was this child?

Diane, schooled Kaye using details and facts. She was masterful. I don’t think I could have kept my cool like Diane did. Unfortunately, we all witnessed Kaye not listening ( watch the interview again). She wasn’t listening and learning she was getting ready to read her next prepared question and showing her next ‘gotcha’ quote.

Kaye knew she didn’t have a chance , that’s why she was reading her questions. It’s evidence she doesn’t understand the issue. If she did, she would have conducted the interview more like a discussion.

Perhaps, we can hope Kaye learned on lesson, the lesson that parroting Rhee’s Students First’s talking points comes with the consequence of looking like a fool.


Exactly, in reference to the student paper…what did Randi know about him or her. Was this an ELL student or sped? Was the student receiving services? How often had this child moved: schools, towns, districts, states? What was the attendance record for this child?

This wasn’t an interview….it was an ambush.


Diane, I think you did a great job combating Randy’s slanted questions. One important point that needs to be made is that oftentimes schools in poorer areas do not receive the funding and supporting services needed to help children to overcome the baggage that they bring to school. While testing is an important part of education, other factors need to be taken into account so that all of our children receive a quality of education.
Thank you for providing people with a more accurate picture of our public schools.


I think we just need to acknowledge that especially now, money buys speech and media time. When I look at what is happening here in New Jersey and what is conveyed in the press – whose messages – I see the messages of those with the money make it to press far faster, with more frequency and exposure than those messages of us grass roots people, unfunded, fighting to save and improve public schools. So we go everywhere – we show up where they do not and where they do. And we comment on every article, blog and post. It is tiring, but we have your amazing lead to follow and we benefit greatly from your relentless willingness to say what needs to be said ensuring all of us have a better chance at being heard. Thank you.


Diane, you were amazing, Randi Kay is clearly biased toward Rhee. WTH is going on at CNN? Please keep fighting for our children.


I was really worried when you wrote about the interview after the taping, but after watching it, I was pleased. I know she didn’t agree with your assessments and kept pushing back opposing questions, but she allowed you to state your case very well without interruption. You did a terrific job responding, and I truly believe the way the interview was conducted allowed the audience to make its own conclusions about what to believe.


I thought you did a masterful job in the face of a clearly biased interviewer. You were pure grace under fire. You spoke the truth in spite of her deliberately leading questions, and I was cheering you on along with the other teachers in the audience who were surely watching this morning. Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of public schools and public school educators. We desperately need your continued voice and advocacy.


You were the epitome of grace under pressure. You skillfully debunked everything she threw at you with facts. I agree they cut the NAEP question because it was apparent you schooled them and it made them look bad. Hopefully, they really did learn something about the true state of education and the FACT that it is being set up for privatization. Thank you for speaking out so eloquently on school reform.


I  just watched, and agree with your take. There is some political/financial motivation for Randi/CNN to treat the chance to hear from you as instead a chance to discredit your point of view. I had to go and find the Rhee interview Kaye did, because I had avoided it (knowing what I would hear from Rhee). I was more interested in seeing if Rhee had survived the slings and arrows, the cherry picked and invalid use of data, the portrayal of struggles as automatic assumptions of systemic failure.

Rhee got no such treatment. Even questions posed as quasi-criticisms were only softballs lobbed for Rhee to continue Students First PR. Diane gets ambushed with 1 student letter, 1 poverty stricken district/state, data is used selectively to support Kaye’s foregone conclusion, and the devastation profiteering has already caused this nation and the bulk of it’s children is ignored. Good teachers will reverse outsourcing and the undermining of the middle class family, Kaye? Really?

Rhee gets “tell us more about what you think”. CNN, Randi Kaye…do you not know Rhee’s history? How she benefits from “reform”? How ALEC really operates and what it’s legislative agenda is regarding public money to private pockets?


That was not an interview but a cross-examination. That “rheeporter” was an obvious mouthpiece for the privatizers, particularly when compared with Michele Rhee’s earlier, “soft” interview. I said as much in an email to CNN a moment ago.

As for Highland Park, MI, of course it is struggling! I lived near there as a grad student in the late 90′s and it was one of the most impoverished and dangerous areas of Detroit. Privatizing Highland Park schools does not ameliorate these other conditions which interfere with those students’ education. Why didn’t Kaye show a writing sample from an 8th grader in affluent Bloomfield Hills or Grosse Pointe?


“a fortress of knowledge and reason”

I LOVE that description of Diane! Thanks for summing it up. Randi kept after Diane but could gain any ground.

I posted this under the earlier Mitt entry so I will re-post here on topic:

She was prepared with her material and you were unaware of what she would ask.
But because you are prepared, you answered every query solidly. It was so impressive to watch how quickly you came back with thorough responses. It was amazing to watch her continue to come back with follow-up questions, pursuing her storyline in spite of you having shot it down, time and again. She was clearly NOT interested in giving you airtime to describe privatization movement. And isn’t that the most telling of all? You articulated quite clearly (more than once) that there is an agenda of privatization using her Michigan story as your vehicle. SHE DID NOT ASK FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS ABOUT THAT. Either she is incredibly lacking in curiousity(a really bad thing for a reporter) or she is aware of the topic and they don’t want to give you the time to expand upon that issue for Saturday morning viewers to hear who might get curious about it. I am done with CNN.


This was obviously not an objective interview. It was an insult to good and fine interviewers everywhere. I was stunned (although I guess I shouldn’t have been) by Randi Kaye’s relentless challenge of the effectiveness of public schools, keeping Diane constantly on the defense. Thank you, Diane, for taking one on the chin for all of us. You did a great job! You inspire this teacher of 35 years to keep fighting the good fight.


Outstanding work Diane! You are grace under fire! I have already sent an email to CNN…first for thanking them for inviting you on the show, but then shaming them for their token gift to all of us who wrote after the Michelle Rhee interview.( Wasn’t her interview midmorning?) They could do better, they should do better! Their lack of respect for your background and education is an absolute insult to me. But.. you sure did us proud!!


Diane, you did a wonderful job! Very adversarial interview, sheesh. Also noted Rhee got even more air time in the lead-in. Well, now that they have you on tape, here’s hoping they’ll lead in some future segments with you! Many thanks!


Diane, it was clear that she was one sided and that you were put in the position to defend your position. It made her look terrible (Fox news comment is brilliant), not you. As always, I am grateful that America has you to speak the truth about what is happening to our public education system. You spoke the truth so eloquently and with great depth of knowledge. Thank you a million times over. Chris


They probably edited it out because it showed her ignorance of her subject matter. At least someone is paying attention.I thought it looked great. Much better than you thought, I think.I wish someone would make a commercial about her inadequacies. Why is she even an authority figure? I guess that’s like asking why elementary children always befriend the bully.


By the way, I could hear the cheers across the country from teachers far and wide when you talked about what they really want is to be able to collaborate and work together. That is the true source
of the problem. In one district I know, the central administration puts everyone’s license on a board, and moves teachers around according to licensure, without any regard for what teams of teachers are doing well, or whether that teacher has ever taught that subject in his/her 20+ years of teaching. So much for administrators claiming they are doing what is best for the children!


You are correct about CNN, Diane. It is seriously attempting to remake itself as Fox Lite to boost its terrible ratings. Randi Kaye used to be a serious reporter back in her Minnesota and early CNN days, but in light of massive firings at CNN obviously has chosen to be a corporate shill. Trust CNN no more than Fox. Money is controlling the message. Try MSNBC and Current. Small voices of reason in a sea of babble.


CNN has been Fox-Light for quite some time! I just don’t understand, other than ALEC and their ilk, why the media has bought into this narrative. Except for Ed Schultz, it exists n MSNBC as well. It’s as if it has become conventional wisdom.

Diane, it was clear that she was one sided and that you were put in the position to defend your position. It made her look terrible (Fox news comment is brilliant), not you. As always, I am grateful that America has you to speak the truth about what is happening to our public education system. You spoke the truth so eloquently and with great depth of knowledge. Thank you a million times over. Chris


She was relentless but you were a fortress of knowledge and reason, brava! It’s great to have you in the hot seat even though it must be very unpleasant. Know we’re all standing behind you.


I watched it when it aired this morning @ 8:45 AM. I found it particularly interesting that as an introduction to your interview, Randi Kaye re-aired comments made by Michelle Rhee. I was also quite disappointed that she chose to exhibit and share a letter written by a middle/high school student who was clearly below grade level and chose to ignore your implicit points that one sample, from one district, from one school cannot adequately illustrate or messure quality education. She chose to ignore your repeated valid points regarding poverty when she had the perfect opportunity to explore and expand on that topic during the interview. It is clear to me that she had her own agenda that apparently was sanctioned by her bosses. I am surprised and disappointed by CNN. I look to them as a “voice of reason” on issues. CNN loops much of their material throughout the day, so I would think that those who missed it might be able to catch it at another time.


They probably edited it out because it showed her ignorance of her subject matter. At least someone is paying attention.I thought it looked great. Much better than you thought, I think.I wish someone would make a commercial about her inadequacies. Why is she even an authority figure? I guess that’s like asking why elementary children always befriend the bully.

Thanks, Diane, for being a voice of reason in this horrid ed reform debate. Despite the obvious bias in this pseudo-interview, I appreciated the fact that you answered all of her questions with facts. However, I am disheartened that CNN has become just as bad as Fox and MSNBCs disgraceful Education Nation. Apparently, the corporate profits are fueling this drive for reform, and neither politicians nor the media care about the facts.Valerie Strauss posted an excellent article about the money behind the push for charter schools. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/the-big-business-of-charter-schools/2012/08/16/bdadfeca-e7ff-11e1-8487-64e4b2a79ba8_blog.html#pagebreakThe information is out there. My hope is that people will wake up before the public schools have been totally destroyed.**************************************If Randi Kaye wants to hold up one student paper as an example of our failing schools, we should “hold up” her interview as an example of her failing attempt at journalism.She is just another hack “rheeporter” (thank you Alan) shilling for the corporate takeover of our country.CNN…contaminated news network