W&W Morning Run: Matt Damon’s D.C. Tangle a Viral Hit

Matt Damon’s video in which he challenges a Reason TV reporter and a cameraman over tenure for teachers in public education has become a viral sensation. The vid has passed more than 1.1 million views on YouTube, with an array of comments for an against Damon’s defense of teachers, from those calling him a liberal hero to others casting him a misguided celebrity (of course, with more vitriol). What seems to have helped draw attention to the exchange is when the Reason cameraman said that “10% of teachers are bad,” Damon said, “Well, OK, maybe you’re a shitty cameraman, I don’t know.”

Even if Damon has become a lightning bolt for the right and libertarians, he’s at least succeeded in focusing attention on the issue of teachers, which is exactly what the purpose of his appearance in Washington was over the weekend. He challenged the notion that it’s educators and teachers unions that are to blame for failing schools, as well as the reliance on testing in the solution to education reform. He appeared at a rally called Save Our Schools, and also expressed disgust for the debt deal.

Dana Goldstein writes at the Nation, “Teachers (and parents, and Matt Damon) are right to be skeptical of the administration’s testing push. While “standards-based-assessment” doesn’t have to mean that students are sitting for dozens of new bubble tests—there are other ways to “test,” including portfolio-based systems, performance tasks and presentations—the fact of the matter is that some states and school districts will respond to the incentives of Obama’s Race to the Top program in ways that over-rationalize learning.”

In the Boston Herald, Michael Graham challenges Damon’s assertions as “wrong on a theory and fact.”

Garcetti to DC: Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti headlined a satellite fund-raiser in Hollywood for President Obama’s birthday, with David Axelrod among the guests. Today Garcetti is headed to D.C., along with State Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), to attend a celebration at the White House (today is the actual day of Obama’s 50th). Garcetti was an early supporter of Obama’s in the last cycle, and is widely expected to run for mayor of Los Angeles in 2013.

Colbert’s Campaign: Trevor Potter, the campaign finance attorney who represented Stephen Colbert in his successful effort to form a super PAC, tells OpenSecrets.org that he thinks that the process “worked just fine.”

He says, “First of all, I don’t think Mr. Colbert sees having a PAC as a joke; he sees it as a way to demonstrate how the process works and to play a role in the process through his television show. That gives people an idea of what actually happens, what’s permitted and how PACs work. 

“Beyond that, I thought the process worked just fine. I thought the commission took it seriously, and it was a serious request. The PAC did need to know how to do these things. The staff asked good questions. As you know, I had recused myself from the comments filed by the Campaign Legal Center, which I head, because in private practice I was Colbert’s lawyer. I thought they filed very good comments, and the commission largely followed the road map — the analysis — laid out by the Campaign Legal Center in saying, “Yes, of course, he can talk about this on his show to the extent he wants; he can cover it to the extent he wants; but the PAC is an independent creation, and there is no way for a media company to actually run an independent PAC and not disclose its support.” In terms of public policy, I think that makes sense.”

Headline of the Day: “Obama Turns 50 Despite Republican Opposition.” (From The Onion, Via Daily Dish).

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