Monday, April 25, 2011

NY Times Makes (another) Ed Boo-Boo

But Leonie was on the case:
In the future, I would hope that the editors of the Times might try a little harder to look at the data with a more discerning eye, and not swallow the distortions of the Department of Education. Perhaps they might even refer to independent experts who could dissect the data if they find it too difficult to interpret it themselves.  They owe it to their readers.  There is little point in trying to cover the NYC public schools if they continue to prove themselves so incapable of weighing the evidence objectively and presenting the facts with a more practiced eye, rather than simply regurgitating what is handed them by the spinmeisters at Tweed. After all, if the Daily News and the NY Post can do it, why not the Times?
 She wrote all about it at her blog:

The NY Times issues a correction, too little and too late.

An article in the NY Times magazine two weeks ago, on April 10 , about Middle School 223 in the Bronx, written by Jonathan Mahler, contained the following passage describing student achievement gains under Joel Klein:
“Since 2006, the city's elementary and middle schools have seen a 22-point increase in the percentage of students at or above grade level in math (to 54 percent) and a 6-point increase in English (to 42 percent).”
Upon reading this statement, I immediately knew it to be untrue. There has been little or no improvement in student achievement in NYC since 2006 – or even since 2003, when the Klein first implemented his policies, according to the most reliable national assessments called the NAEPs. 

In fact, after the NY State Education Department recalibrated the exams, increasing the scale scores needed for proficiency this summer, in response to overwhelming evidence that the state tests and their scoring had gotten much easier over this period, the percent of NYC students at or above grade level actually dropped precipitously compared to 2006. READ IT ALL AT: The NY Times issues a correction, too little and too late.

Poor Jonathan Mahler, who called me when he got the assignment and I directed him to Leonie and offered to put him in touch with real teachers. But he went astray and got lost to the data munchers at Tweed. A good lesson for any reporter looking to do a serious article in education in NYC - and beyond.

But really, which side do you expect the NY Times to be on? NYC Educator also wonders about that Dennis Walcott full-page puff piece on Sunday:


The NY Times declares that new Chancellor Dennis Walcott has a knack for conciliation. Certainly Walcott is charming and well-spoken. And he has asked for a new tone, something that would go a long way toward easing the toxic relationship between Tweed on the one hand, and parents and teachers on the other. Unfortunately, and not noted in the three page article, Walcott has been part of this administration every step of the way.

Furthermore, he's embraced Mayor Bloomberg's insistence on sidestepping the contract by eliminating reverse-seniority layoffs. In case you're on the fence on this issue, note that the city is sitting on a 3.1 billion dollar surplus, ridding the city of 8.2% of working teachers will save only 369 million, and there is, in fact, no need to lay off anyone at all.

You wouldn't know that from reading the article. After 9 years of failed programs from Bloomberg and company, do they really merit yet another puff piece? Shouldn't the press alert us to these things?

A free press ought to be a bulwark against billionaires like Mayor Bloomberg and their propaganda. When I read pieces like these, I wonder where the analysis is.

Feel free to offer your own.

Check out Norms Notes for a variety of articles of interest: And make sure to check out the side panel on right for news bits. Recent items:

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