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

Saturday, November 26, 2005

NY Times Mistakes Front Page for Editorial Section?

It is disappointing enough to see the Editorial Board of the NY Times blandly cave to the Business Roundtable technocrats in the education industry, who, themselves, are pumping a nationalized, stupidifying, and undemocratic plan for the future corporate management of public schools. That kind of betrayal of the public trust can be expected, I suppose, in an era when human worth is viewed as a form of capital, to be used, expended, transferred, bought, and sold—in much the same way that editorial opinions are traded in today’s corporate media environment.

It would appear that now, however, editorializing has moved to the front pages, and Sam Dillon’ piece in today’s Times offers a prime example of how opinion can be masked by simply choosing sources who offer information that presents the preferred facts, such as they are. Dillon’s piece, which should have been called “Corporationists Support National Testing,” is a how-to on pushing an editorial stance by selective sourcing.

Even though Dillon states that “some educators saying that numerous states have created easy exams to avoid the sanctions [of] President Bush's centerpiece education law, No Child Left Behind. . . ,” do have a look at this star-studded line-up of non-educators in Dillon’s piece (in order of appearance):
  • Michael Petrelli, former executive in K-12, the Internet education company and current vice-president of the right wing Fordham Foundation;
  • Standard & Poor’s SchoolMatters (NO relation), a division of McGraw-Hill, which is in the “growth model” business, as well as the supplier of a national database where you can look up any school’s test scores while checking on how many brown kid they have);
  • G. Gage Kingsbury, a psychologist/psychometrician and father of the first computerized adaptive test (also now into “growth models”);
  • Inez Tannenbaum, Superintendent of South Carolina Schools, who actually did teach a couple of years before becoming an attorney;
  • Diane Ravitch, conservative professor and former Asst. Secretary of Education under Bush I;
  • John Boehner, Republican Chair of the right-wing House Committee on Education and the Workforce;
  • Susan Traiman, Director, Education and Workforce Policy for the Business Roundtable.
Between Susan Traiman and Margaret Spellings, who is near the end of Dillon’s fair and balanced source list (and who needs no further introduction), Dillon throws a small turkey bone to those stubborn naysayers of national corporationism, lumping us all together as liberals, greedy test makers, or racists protecting states’ rights:
Opponents include liberal groups that dislike all standardized testing; the testing industry itself, which has found lucrative profits in writing new exams for all 50 states; and political conservatives who fiercely resist any intrusion on states' rights to control curricula and tests.
I have been reading coverage on ed issues for a few years now, but this is the worst case of stacking the deck that I have ever seen. But, then, I don’t read the news scripts from Fox.

Jim Horn

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