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Are Schools Really “Failing” — And Are They Being “Reformed”?

A very interesting, cautionary opinion piece from American Journalism Review about how the media covers schools.

http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5280

We’ve spent a lot of time covering the schools in recent years in the paper and on the Behind the Headlines show. The reform efforts of Superintendent Kriner Cash, the Gates Foundation efforts, the rise of charter schools, and of course the pending consolidation of city and county schools, all have occupied a lot of space. For good reason, I think.

After reading this, though, I’m frantically trying to think about where, when and how often I’ve fallen into some of the easy lines described by Farhi.

Two items from the story that stuck out to me:

β€œ’The discussion [of the state of schools] is quite simplistic. I’m not sure why exactly. My suspicion is that the media has trouble with complexity.'”

β€œIn 2011, the percentage of parents who gave their children’s school an A grade was at its highest ever (37 percent), whereas only 1 percent of respondents rated the nation’s schools that way. Why the disparity in perceived quality? Gallup asked people about that, too. Mostly, it was because people knew about their local schools through direct experience. They only learned about the state of education nationally through the news media.”

 

Dansette

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