How Accurate Is Online Education?

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Big names might garner hits and visits but not necessarily provide accuracy.

For example, the Sal Kahn Academy has produced a series of videos during which the proprietor—Mr. Kahn—sits down with CBS star John Dickerson for a succession of sit-down civics lessons. Of the five promotional videos offered for free, three are fairly neutral and even somewhat informative.

The other two, on The Presidency and the Media, serve to perpetuate partisan myths common in both the media and academia. For instance, in the “class” on the presidency, Dickerson, co-host of “CBS This Morning,” avers, “If I’m a Republican [congressman] and the president is a Republican and I want my president to do well, I’m going to give him the power he wants because we’re connected.”

About a minute later, he notes, “Donald Trump when he was running said, ‘I alone can fix it.’ That’s not the way the country was founded.” Actually, the last Democratic president, who Dickerson never mentions, probably demonstrated a greater degree of brothers-in-arms partisanship with Congress than the current Republican one does with his party’s congressional majority leaders.

After all, President Obama got his signature piece of legislation—Obamacare—through Congress strictly on a party line vote. However, President Trump couldbarely even get hismost recent nominee to the Supreme Court confirmed by the Senate on a party line vote.

Moreover, nine years ago, thn Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi demonstrated over-the-top fealty to her party leader’s pet project. “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” she famously said of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

The current outgoing Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has never been recorded defending Trump Administration policies with such zeal. Some might argue that he has opposed this president more frequently than he ever did the last one, even when he was running against him as the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee. (Google Paul Ryan on the president’s proposed border wall: He’s all over the map on it.)

Ironically, Dickerson might have found a better example of GOP partisanship, of a sort, during the administration of George W. Bush. At an Accuracy in Academia conference in 2004, Tom Tancredo, then a Republican congressman from Colorado, remembered getting this message from the White House on the Prescription Drug Benefit plan: “We can pass this pretty or we can pass this ugly but we will pass it.”

On the media, Dickerson argues that, like America, it has become polarized. But for polarization to occur, polar opposites must be present in roughly equal force. Yet, other than Fox News, One America News, possibly the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the New York Post, how many remotely conservative media outlets can you name?

Do you have the same problem naming liberal ones?