And, of course, the big money has the big media in its pocket, as evidenced in today's uncritical adver-porting of the propaganda smear in the Washington Post, a dull hatchet job that even a dolt like Jay Mathews knows is entirely misleading, one-sided, and without merit.
Here is Bracey's letter to WaPo, which will never find its way into print. Much too honest, even if it were not, Jerry doesn't have enough cash to buy the news space. Thanks, anyway, GB:
From: GERALD BRACEY
To: email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; valerie strauss ; email@example.com ; Fred Hiatt
Sent: Sunday, July 13, 2008 11:09 AM
It's bad enough that Roy Romer, who used to be pretty smart when I knew him in CO, has become the most irrational of school critics, but it's worse that page C7 of today's Post gives his his latest fear mongering crap--let's call it what it is, shit, and see if that gets through the filters--free publicity. In God's name, WHY? Who put the Post up to this story?
I think the Post owes it to schools to base a piece at least as long on U. S. Competitiveness in Science and Technology which was just issued by the RAND corporation. We're #1, says RAND. It's a much more reasoned document though it, too, makes some errors when talking about school performance. It at least credits U. S. kids on international tests where they do well. If you look around at the fear mongers, you'll notice they mention PISA ranks and nothing else. That's because, as RAND observes, on TIMSS and PIRLS we look good. Of course, even RAND's study considers that there might be a link between test scores and competitiveness, which no one has ever demonstrated. In fact, in his epilogue to a recent book about PISA (see below), U of Vienna professor Stefan Hopmann notes that PISA rests on two assumptions: that it assesses important knowledge, and that it assesses knowledge important to the economic future of a nation. There is no research, says Hopmann, to support either assumption. So why does the Post accept PISA at face value?
Last week, I sent in an oped, Getting It Backwards, that begins with a quote from an English economist. He takes the proper perspective. Critics in this country look at test scores and worry about competitiveness. He looks at America's #1 economy and impugns the validity of the test comparisons. Prais' argument appears in a book I recently received edited by three profs at the U of Vienna but with chapters from researchers all over Europe that virtually demolishes PISA, the international study that is used in Romer's ads (I know, the article mentions Marc Lampkin as CEO, but if you go to their site you immediately see that Roy is the driving force). Why do American media accept these studies so uncritically?
Gerald W. Bracey