"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, July 28, 2005

the "liberal education media"

Yesterday Susan Ohanian's excellent site posted, alongside her own, Gerald Bracey's reaction to a Jay Mathews' piece in the Post about education reporting. Both are worth reading, as reminders of how successful those who howled about the "liberal media" have been in pushing the corporate media in their direction.

In terms of those reporters who are writing about education as they wait their turn to move up to real reporting jobs, they have historically fallen into line with those who criticize public education. While success stories do not sell papers, claims of failure do.

Just one example: In 1957 when the USSR launched Sputnik, hypercritics of the schools such as Admiral Hyman Rickover, claimed that public education needed to be overhauled to turn out mathematicians and engineers to catch up with the Reds. The media was all over the story, declaring the mushy schools had put our national security at risk. Well, 12 years later when the USA put men on the moon, there were no education story in the media to celebrate the turnaround in the American education system.

In the meantime, Rickover and Bestor and other supporters of the traditional curriculum had successfully used that fear to move the school curriculum toward their preferred mold. What a motivator fear is, as Barry Glassner points out so well in his The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things


  1. Anonymous11:08 AM

    I second the recommendation of the Berliner & Biddle book. I read it a few years ago and found it informative and comprehensive. It's a excellent starting point for learning the ABC's of school reform BS.

    Since it was published about 10 years ago (but still relevent--somthing to thing about in itself), I wonder if they have any plans to come out with a new edition?

  2. thank you for your blog. i appreciate your perspectives and passion!
    eric mar
    president, San Francisco Board of Education