A seminal trend may be occurring in media coverage of education, at least at the K-12 level: The press is starting to notice where the problem comes from.
o The Economist ran an article showing that you can’t solve education problems by throwing money at them;
o The L. A. Times conducted an investigation of teacher salaries in the City of the Angels; and
o Newsweek ran an article by Michelle Rhee, the former Washington, D. C. chancellor who became the bête noire of teachers’ unions everywhere.
“Many school systems that were not showered with extra funds did much better,” noted The Economist on November 25, 2010. “Schools in the state of Saxony, in Germany, in Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia and Poland have all raised their games.”
“Even poor countries such as Chile and Ghana have made progress.” That The Economist would take notice of studies that discover such trends is nothing short of seismic. Although the venerable magazine did hard-hitting coverage of the old Soviet Union in its final days, usually the publication is so biased in favor of centralized, or as they would put it centralised, government solutions to problems that the economist it seems to be evoking is John Maynard Keynes.
Meanwhile, back in the States, L. A.’s premier paper, which has given the educational establishment prime positioning on its pages in the past, turned around and gave it fits. “The L.A. Unified School District Teachers Union made good on their promise to protest the Los Angeles Times over the paper’s release of evaluations of over 6,000 teachers in the district,” Accuracy in Academia chairman Don Irvine reported on September 20, 2010.
As for Rhee, in her cover article in Newsweek, she pulls no punches. “We have textbook manufacturers, teachers’ unions, and even food vendors that work hard to dictate and determine policy,” she writes. “The public-employee unions in D.C., including the teachers’ union, spent huge sums of money to defeat [former Washington, D. C. mayor Adrian] Fenty.”
“In fact, the new chapter president has said his No. 1 priority is job security for teachers, but there is no big organized interest group that defends and promotes the interests of children.”
Even the Huffington Post posted an article by the mayor of Los Angeles blasting teachers’ unions. This last posting is perhaps the most remarkable of all.
The avowedly liberal Democratic mayor is a former teachers’ union organizer himself. Moreover, it’s something that the last Republican mayor of L. A, Richard Riordan, would never have done.
Riordan actually had RINO, for Republican in Name Only, buttons produced for his campaign. The term has since become a pejorative that its objects try to avoid.
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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