News Release

Debate Fallout: * Economic Discussion * D.C. Education System * Colombia

MAX FRAAD WOLFF
Wolff is an instructor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University. He is a frequent contributor to Huffington Post, Asia Times and The Indypendent. He cites a disconnect between the economic crisis and the lack of meaningful discussion in the presidential race: “We are still talking tax cuts — despite a forecast of a $1 trillion budget deficit. We are still talking energy independence — despite the fact there is no chance of that.”
More Information

DEBORAH MENKART
Executive director of the D.C.-based group Teaching for Change, Menkart is co-author of Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching. She said today: “It was unfortunate to hear both Obama and McCain endorse the actions of D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, though Obama made important points about No Child Left Behind being an unfunded mandate and the need to provide meaningful supports for teachers. Rhee’s approach, on the other hand, has been almost exclusively punitive, firing teachers and principals and closing schools. What’s missing is a plan to improve the quality of instruction through professional development or other critically needed supports for quality teaching.”

The right-wing Washington Spectator is calling for Rhee to be the next Secretary of Education. The A-section of the Washington Post features a story that notes: “At events this year, [Rhee] has said that McCain has been the stronger candidate on education issues.” Meanwhile, the Metro section of the Post features the story “Rhee Fires Shepherd Principal, Raising Questions About Vetting.”

MARIO MURILLO
Murillo is associate professor of Communication at Hofstra University in New York (where last night’s debate was held), and the author of Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest and Destabilization. He is currently living in Colombia, finishing a book about the indigenous movement and its uses of community media.
He said: “Listening to the debates online from my home in Bogotá on the same day that Colombian security forces were shooting at indigenous protesters in southern Colombia makes one realize how little knowledge people in the U.S. have of this troubled country. John McCain talks about the Uribe regime as ‘the best ally of the U.S. in the hemisphere’ that deserves a free trade agreement with Washington, demonstrating quite clearly how disconnected he is from the reality on the ground here, and how much he represents another eight years of Bush policies in the Americas. It’s a good thing that Obama recognizes the long history of attacks against the trade union movement in this country, but he needs to be updated about the major contradictions surrounding the Uribe government, including its links with paramilitary death squads on the U.S. State Department’s terrorism list. The popular movement is screaming out as we speak, and nobody up north seems to be listening!”

Murillo just wrote the piece “History Repeats Itself for Indigenous Communities Under Attack in Colombia.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167