Apparently the media only consider education reforms controversial if they are opposed by the Left. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) compared media coverage of President Obama’s Common Core initiative with reportage on vouchers and the results are illuminating.
“In contrast to the pattern of Common Core coverage, thousands of articles were written about school vouchers, even when only a small number of students were enrolled in voucher programs,” Michael Q. McShane and Frederick Hess wrote in an Education Outlook analysis for AEI. “The raw number comparison is pretty staggering.”
“More articles were written about school vouchers in every year from 1998 forward than were written about the Common Core even in 2010 or 2011, though enrollment was orders of magnitude smaller. The combined coverage of the Common Core in 2009, 2010, and 2011 was still less than the coverage of vouchers in 1999 alone.”
It should be noted that when vouchers were put in place, most major newspapers had an education beat. Before Common Core was even implemented, these same publications mostly dropped their education beats. Nevertheless, the latest numbers on Common Core coverage show this is not a factor.
“By 2014, all of this had changed,” McShane and Hess write. “Newspaper headlines were splashed with bold-faced text declaring, ‘A Fight Is Brewing over Tests in the Common Core Age’ (Washington Post) and ‘Common Core Curriculum Now Has Critics on the Left’ (New York Times). Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Utah all either left the consortia developing tests for the standards or indicated that they would develop their own tests in 2013.”
“Opposition to the standards, which had previously been found mostly on the political right, ticked up among liberals, most notably with the New York State teachers union withdrawing its support of the standards. After states released cost estimates ranging from $6 million in Louisiana to $100 million in Maryland to get schools up to speed with the technology necessary to administer Common Core–aligned tests, organizations questioned the wisdom of the Common Core effort.”
Hess is the director of Education Policy Studies at AEI. McShane is a research fellow there.