Memo to Your Local Newspaper About Education
Parents need help defending their children against the ideology and incompetence so common in public schools. But US newspapers hardly bother to explain education to their readers. When kids aren''t learning, you can bet there is a scandal to investigate. Where''s investigative journalism when we need it?Question: when are you going to start covering education?
My local newspaper hardly seems aware that there is this very exciting, controversial and dramatic topic crying out for smart, helpful coverage. I bet it''s the same way in most American cities. How about yours?
Every education story in my local paper seems to be a repeat of the one before: reading scores up or down; math scores down or up, principal fired or hired. The stories contain little substance.
If you read through the things, you still have no idea why any of these events took place. In particular, why are scores up or down? What does it mean when the paper says 70% of eighth-graders are "functioning at grade-level." What can they do? What do they know? How about the other 30%? And why aren''t we told the names of the curricula used?
I''ve been keeping tabs on my local paper for a dozen years. Here are some stories I''ve NEVER seen mentioned:
Why does this country have 50 million functional illiterates? What kind of incompetence led to this tragic situation? Why have the media, by their silence, aided and abetted this decline? Why are newspapers, which need readers, so lazy about helping literacy?
Why does this country have one million dyslexics? Are we supposed to believe these people were born this way? Or was Rudolph Flesch right all along, that bad reading methods will mess up a child''s mind?
Is it conceivable, as recent surveys indicate, that one-third of the students in Arizona high schools can''t name the ocean on the East Coast? How do people reach college unable to say what 7 x 9 is? What kind of incompetence permits these levels of ignorance?
Why are teachers allowed to major in such empty things as Education and end up teaching Chemistry or History, of which they know nothing?
Why are Dolch Words and Sight Words still used even though the Education Establishment itself has stated that phonics is essential?
Newspapers are shrinking and having troubles paying the bills. Here is a helpful suggestion: those papers should start serving the interests of their readers, instead of their liberal pals.
Report, for example, on whether each local PTA is genuinely pro-parent or, in reality, a creature of the NEA. Are public meetings rigged so that open debate appears to take place but doesn''t? There are a lot of juicy stories right here.
Explain the failures of the fads so feverishly embraced by the public schools, who often seem to be in a race to the bottom. Explain the flaws in Reform Math, Constructivism, Self Esteem, Invented Spelling, Multiculturalism, and dozens more.
Serve as a clearing house for information on best practice, e.g., what the private schools, parochial schools and homeschooling parents are doing. Help the public schools to improve.
Be a voice for teachers, who are often as much victims as students are. Teachers want to serve the children; but kids don''t give the marching orders. The Education Establishment gives the orders. Explain that these people, unfortunately, are often more invested in ideology than in providing good education. What a huge story that is.
So many, many stories! A huge struggle is raging across the landscape. The Education Establishment, with a vast budget of billions and billions, has drawn a line in the sand: they want social engineering. Meanwhile, citizens cry out for real education and more successful schools. Parents want their children to master the basics -- reading, writing, arithmetic, geography -- and then move on to history, science, literature, and the arts. Why not help these parents get what they want?
People need to be sophisticated consumers of school services. If kids aren''t learning, it''s usually the fault of the schools. Parents must be able to understand what is wrong, and articulate what kind of change is needed.
The public must be educated about education. My local paper seems to be taking a long snooze. Is your local paper (or other media) doing any better? How do we explain this irresponsible behavior?
(Note to all media: not enough staff to cover education? Call Word-Wise Education/Bruce Price for articles, quotes, interviews: 757-455-5020. Visit Improve-Education.org for analyses of an inept Education Establishment--e.g., 38: Saving Public Schools; 40: Sight Words--The Big Stupid; and 41: Educators, O. J. Simpson and Guilt.)
Bruce Deitrick Price is the founder of Improve-Education.org (now with 44 unique articles about reading, robots, sophistry, poetry, constructivism, the assault on math, etc.). His fifth book is THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened To American Education.