Educators and the Three Cups of Tea Controversy

By Mary Ann Zehr — April 26, 2011 1 min read

Like a lot of other people interested in the education of children around the world, I loved the story told in Three Cups of Tea of how Greg Mortenson became passionate about building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I recommended the book to you on this blog in 2008.

But you’ve probably heard by now that an investigation by “60 Minutes” and reporting by the well-known journalist, John Krakauer, have raised serious questions about whether we can believe key parts of his story told in Three Cups of Tea and his newer book, Stones into Schools. Even more serious are allocations that he misused funds collected by thousands of school children through his organization’s program “Pennies for Peace.”

Greg Mortenson himself doesn’t defend all the facts in his books, telling Outside magazine that the time in which some events took place was compressed.

Education Week posted a story today that I wrote about what the fallout might be for educators. Says John I. Wilson, the executive director of the National Education Association, to teachers who may be facilitating fund-raising campaigns for Pennies for Peace: “Finish the project but hold on to the money.”

A spokesman for the Central Asia Institute, which runs Pennies for Peace, said to me in an email message that all the funds collected by this program go for schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. She said any funds that haven’t been spent yet are sitting in a fund for future use.

I expect that the inquiry by Montana’s attorney general of the Central Asia Institute’s finances will give us more details about whether children’s pennies have gone for peace or a less worthy purpose.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Learning the Language blog.


Early Childhood Live Online Discussion The Impact of the Coronavirus on Early-Childhood Learning
Join Peter DeWitt and his guests on A Seat at the Table as they discuss the implications of coronavirus on early-childhood learning.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Recruiting and Retaining a More Diverse Teaching Workforce
We discuss the importance of workforce diversity and learn strategies to recruit and retain teachers from diverse backgrounds.
Content provided by EdWeek Top School Jobs
Student Well-Being Webinar Boosting Teacher and Student Motivation During the Pandemic: What It Takes
Join Alyson Klein and her expert guests for practical tips and discussion on how to keep students and teachers motivated as the pandemic drags on.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Michigan Data Coach- (MGLVA)
Michigan, United States
K12 Inc.
Program Manager, State Solution Delivery
Portland, OR, US
Northwest Evaluation Association
Director of Education
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington Public Library
Great Oaks AmeriCorps Fellow August 2021 - June 2022
New York City, New York (US)
Great Oaks Charter Schools

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: February 3, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: January 13, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read