I blame John Amato for getting me hooked on the new Netflix Series, House of Cards. Kevin Spacey is fantastic, the pace is great, but unfortunately, the policy issues they tackle in this first season are predictably corporate.
Nothing screams corporate like the storyline about education reform. After Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) forces his colleague to abandon education reform because he's "too left", Underwood finds himself negotiating a package with union representatives that feels a lot like Reed Hastings' dream "reform package."
Adam Bessie introduces Ms. Reform, Hastings' dream girl of education reform:
Ms. Reform is the Marilyn Monroe of domestic policy. The corporate media – and the President himself – can’t get enough of her.
It’s no surprise she’s become famous. Ms. Reform is sexy and seductive, especially to the powerful: she looks like a philanthropist – kind and nurturing, committed to helping the poor, forgotten black and brown children in the inner-cities. Who in their right mind could be against her plans to help our children – especially our most vulnerable and least privileged – have a fair shot in life? But inside – a side she never shows the camera, and when she does, it’s Photoshopped – Ms.Reform is a cutthroat businesswoman: she’s read Ronald Reagan’s economic advisor Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom from cover to cover, she has complete faith in “free enterprise,” she’s never heard of John Dewey nor deigned to teach a day in her life, and boy, does she friggin’ hate unions. In short, Ms. Reform appeals not just to the bleeding heart social justice Obamaites, but also, to venture capitalists that think Obama is fomenting a socialist take-over of America. The only surprise is that she didn’t become famous sooner.
Now, Ms. Reform is starring once again, this time, along (another) Academy Award winner Kevin Spacey in the NetFlix original seriesHouse of Cards, which explores the sordid underbelly of Washington politics. The protagonist Congressman Frank Underwood – who has no allegiance but to his own power – takes on the education reform bill for the new President, one which looks strikingly similar to No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top: the bill increases charter schools, and ties test scores to teacher evaluation, echoing the corporate style, free enterprise reforms both bills have implemented. And of course, as is always the case, Ms. Reform is cast as heroine – and the unions, at best obstructionist and only interested in the needs of the teachers, and not the children (To be fair, though, it’s clear that the real villain in the show is not the unions, but Underwood himself – and as Underwood is supporting the bill, it might cast a negative light on the policies to some viewers).