Where Are the Newspapers on Education?

Most Americans have heard the news: public schools are wallowing in mediocrity.  Millions of kids can’t read, not in any real sense, nor can they do basic arithmetic.  They don’t learn the most essential knowledge.  (Ask one of them how many ounces are in a pound.)  And if you look at international testingSAT scores, or NAEP scores, you see only discouraging signs despite ever larger budgets.

Almost as shocking as the mediocrity itself, the nation’s media – in particular, newspapers –  hardly investigate any aspect of our decline.  Remember investigative journalism?  That’s what we need.  Check out your own newspaper, or any newspaper.  Try to find even a single attempt to explain the fundamental reasons for our educational decline.

NB: The media report only on superficial (mostly, that’s administrative) aspects.  But the real problems reside in what the education professors calls Theories and Methods.  If they are flawed and unworkable, education basically ceases. 

So the question looms: where can parents turn for help in understanding what is being done to their children?

If a fire or flood were coming close to the city, wouldn’t reporters be sent out to tell us the gruesome facts?  But throughout the city, almost in every neighborhood, there is educational decay and intellectual decline.  Where are the reporters covering this story?

 Don’t object that education is not a breaking news story.  It is the background story behind all the other stories.  The dumbing down of public-school students sets the stage for more obvious problems and pathologies.

So how do we explain the media’s silence on one of the biggest scandals in the nation? 

Is it that the people in charge of newspapers have their kids in private schools and don't care about the academic have-nots?

Have the media and the Education Establishment signed a mutual protection treaty?

Is it that too many executives are concerned about their own careers and don’t want to rock the boat?

Or does everyone have a piece of the bloated education budget?

Our newspapers tell people how to check their tires, buy a new dog, and prepare dinner for six. But the same know-it-all media won’t tell parents how to improve their schools.

It's obviously in the best interest of newspapers to make Americans literate and informed. That’s the kind of people who subscribe to newspapers!  What we’ve seen for many years is a clear case of hara-kiri.  Newspapers can’t prosper if the population becomes less literate and the country is poorer.

But suppose print media had a change of heart and asked how they could do a better job on education.  What would change?

The first thing we would see is lots of articles about reading.  Quacks came up with look-say in 1931, and quacks today still promote this sophistry under the banner of Whole Language.  People need to understand that sight-words are a dead end.  If children learn to view a word as graphic design, they are finished as good readers.  Newspapers should be explaining that last statement; and while they are at it, explain why the United States has 50 million functional illiterates.  Same explanation in each case.

The next thing the papers need to explain is Reform Math and all the  elaborately difficult Common Core homework that is making everyone so stressed.  Why does our Education Establishment prefer math questions that make children hate math?  Have you seen a report about this in your local paper? 

Experts say they want to make children get the meaning of math.  In practice, this leads to drowning kids in complexity they are not ready for.  It all comes down to this absurd proposal: let’s start the kids on an expert slope; that way, when they’re screaming down the hill toward a broken leg, they’ll understand the deeper meaning of skiing.  It’s silly.  The correct way is to let people take small steps, so they feel comfortable and want to go farther.  That’s the confident feeling that Reform Math seems designed to obliterate.

The next nuisance we have is called Constructivism.  According to this sophistry, teachers are not allowed to teach knowledge directly.  In effect, kids are supposed to teach themselves.  Check any newspaper’s website and try to find an article explaining what Constructivism is and why it has taken over most of the classrooms in our country.  Most likely, you will not find the word in your paper at all.

There are many other destructive sophistries.  Together, they make successful schools virtually impossible.

The pattern is clear.  Regarding all the things that now subvert public school education, our newspapers are indifferent, uninformed, or deliberately and conspiratorially silent. 

The media don’t seem to care.  But we need them to care.  Their own code of ethics demands that they care: “Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”  Honest, what happened to honest?

Every newspaper should have an education editor, preferably someone with a kid in a public school.  Every citizen should send information or suggestions to the paper.  Mainly, demand better reporting on what's really going on inside our public schools.  It’s dysfunctional there, and the public needs to understand how dysfunctional.  Then we can do something about it.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.

Most Americans have heard the news: public schools are wallowing in mediocrity.  Millions of kids can’t read, not in any real sense, nor can they do basic arithmetic.  They don’t learn the most essential knowledge.  (Ask one of them how many ounces are in a pound.)  And if you look at international testingSAT scores, or NAEP scores, you see only discouraging signs despite ever larger budgets.

Almost as shocking as the mediocrity itself, the nation’s media – in particular, newspapers –  hardly investigate any aspect of our decline.  Remember investigative journalism?  That’s what we need.  Check out your own newspaper, or any newspaper.  Try to find even a single attempt to explain the fundamental reasons for our educational decline.

NB: The media report only on superficial (mostly, that’s administrative) aspects.  But the real problems reside in what the education professors calls Theories and Methods.  If they are flawed and unworkable, education basically ceases. 

So the question looms: where can parents turn for help in understanding what is being done to their children?

If a fire or flood were coming close to the city, wouldn’t reporters be sent out to tell us the gruesome facts?  But throughout the city, almost in every neighborhood, there is educational decay and intellectual decline.  Where are the reporters covering this story?

 Don’t object that education is not a breaking news story.  It is the background story behind all the other stories.  The dumbing down of public-school students sets the stage for more obvious problems and pathologies.

So how do we explain the media’s silence on one of the biggest scandals in the nation? 

Is it that the people in charge of newspapers have their kids in private schools and don't care about the academic have-nots?

Have the media and the Education Establishment signed a mutual protection treaty?

Is it that too many executives are concerned about their own careers and don’t want to rock the boat?

Or does everyone have a piece of the bloated education budget?

Our newspapers tell people how to check their tires, buy a new dog, and prepare dinner for six. But the same know-it-all media won’t tell parents how to improve their schools.

It's obviously in the best interest of newspapers to make Americans literate and informed. That’s the kind of people who subscribe to newspapers!  What we’ve seen for many years is a clear case of hara-kiri.  Newspapers can’t prosper if the population becomes less literate and the country is poorer.

But suppose print media had a change of heart and asked how they could do a better job on education.  What would change?

The first thing we would see is lots of articles about reading.  Quacks came up with look-say in 1931, and quacks today still promote this sophistry under the banner of Whole Language.  People need to understand that sight-words are a dead end.  If children learn to view a word as graphic design, they are finished as good readers.  Newspapers should be explaining that last statement; and while they are at it, explain why the United States has 50 million functional illiterates.  Same explanation in each case.

The next thing the papers need to explain is Reform Math and all the  elaborately difficult Common Core homework that is making everyone so stressed.  Why does our Education Establishment prefer math questions that make children hate math?  Have you seen a report about this in your local paper? 

Experts say they want to make children get the meaning of math.  In practice, this leads to drowning kids in complexity they are not ready for.  It all comes down to this absurd proposal: let’s start the kids on an expert slope; that way, when they’re screaming down the hill toward a broken leg, they’ll understand the deeper meaning of skiing.  It’s silly.  The correct way is to let people take small steps, so they feel comfortable and want to go farther.  That’s the confident feeling that Reform Math seems designed to obliterate.

The next nuisance we have is called Constructivism.  According to this sophistry, teachers are not allowed to teach knowledge directly.  In effect, kids are supposed to teach themselves.  Check any newspaper’s website and try to find an article explaining what Constructivism is and why it has taken over most of the classrooms in our country.  Most likely, you will not find the word in your paper at all.

There are many other destructive sophistries.  Together, they make successful schools virtually impossible.

The pattern is clear.  Regarding all the things that now subvert public school education, our newspapers are indifferent, uninformed, or deliberately and conspiratorially silent. 

The media don’t seem to care.  But we need them to care.  Their own code of ethics demands that they care: “Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.”  Honest, what happened to honest?

Every newspaper should have an education editor, preferably someone with a kid in a public school.  Every citizen should send information or suggestions to the paper.  Mainly, demand better reporting on what's really going on inside our public schools.  It’s dysfunctional there, and the public needs to understand how dysfunctional.  Then we can do something about it.

Bruce Deitrick Price explains educational theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.