The education media is, as a whole, ineffective at educating the public. [Yes, there's a little bit of irony there.] Sometimes ed writers don’t know enough about a subject or practice to write a complete story. Sometimes they turn to tabloid-style baiting, partly because it’s easy, partly because it can be entertaining.
The biggest problem? They’re just plain lazy.
It’s a brash blanket statement, but it’s one that coverage of the most recent education blockbuster bears out.
There’s a bit of fatigue related to the Obama-education-speech coverage, so now’s really not the time to go into detail. Having said that, I’ll present a tiny variation on the theme.
EdWeek’s new “District Dossier” blog is right on top of another controversy [!]. Arlington Independent School District [Arlington, TX] chose not to broadcast President Obama’s speech as it happened – they didn’t want to interrupt instructional time/schedules, they said – but is busing fifth graders to Cowboys Stadium for a Super Bowl-related education event. The list of speakers at that event includes former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura.
Fear not! EdWeek’s on the scene!
Well, they’re on the scene – if linking to other news outlets’ stories and failing to present the situation with any degree of relevant detail is “on the scene.” The kicker is that they give you the issue, then make you do all the work to get to the truth.
At the end they ask you to make a judgment based on their useless coverage. They’d like you to spur on that “conversation” web 2.0 wants so desperately – i.e., you comment on their story and they get traffic. Giving you complete news simply isn’t a priority.
Here’s the response I left on the District Dossier site:
“What do you think? Is there a double standard at work or are some people being overly sensitive?”
It’s impossible to tell from such incomplete coverage. In order to answer the question, we’ve got to dredge up the information EdWeek didn’t – or that EdWeek didn’t bother to lay out for us.
EdWeek failed to explain what the Super Bowl ed program is about. By reading this summary, you’d think the event revolved around George W. Bush. Does it? To what extent? What’s on the docket at this event?
Research it yourself, folks – EdWeek’s not interested in telling you.
We want to read facts about the story – real details, not gossipy, incomplete speculation or the illogical rambling of yet another interview subject residing on the fringe.
Give us something to work with and we might be able to answer your question.
The investigative talents of the current ed journalists make Maxwell Smart look like Hercule Poirot. The education sector and the general public are worse off for it.