Saturday, December 21, 2013

More evidence that the NYT feels strongly enough about education to take a stand, not strongly enough to follow the debate

As previously mentioned, this NYT editorial managed to get the Shanghai PISA story so wrong that they praised China for following pretty much the opposite of its actual policy. The questions about Shanghai's test scores have been widely covered in publications like the Washington Post so, barring the possibility of an incredibly clumsy bluff, it appears that the NYT editorial board made no attempt to follow the story beyond skimming O.E.C.D. press releases.

This isn't an isolated case; it's a trend in the NYT editorial page coverage of education reform. In just this one op-ed, in addition to the up-is-down Shanghai claim, we have:

National Council on Teacher Quality's report on teacher prep programs being treated as authoritative despite having been largely discredited by Rutgers' Bruce Baker and numerous others (among other problems, the NCTQ study's methodology mainly consisted of looking at course names in school catalogs);

Canada cited as a model without mentioning that the country's education policy consists largely of taking the NYT-endorsed tenets of the reform movement (more charters, choice, and accountability, less teacher autonomy and tenure) and doing the opposite;

Completely omitting Sweden, the country that, by some standards, most fully embraced American style reform and which then saw its PISA scores drop like a stone;

Ignoring the historical context that shows that the U.S. has always been in the middle of the pack on international math tests, even when we were in the process of putting a man on the moon.

I might give them a partial pass on Sweden -- the topic was, after all, countries that were doing better than us -- but still...

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