Especially concerning the schools, Washington Post edition: The truth about our public discourse is very hard to fathom.
Consider this post by Valerie Strauss. We found it at her Answer Sheet blog for the Washington Post.
Strauss is employed by the Post as an education writer. At the start of her post, she describes a Q-and-A about public schools at a live discussion this morning:
STRAUSS (6/4/13): Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said Tuesday that America’s educational troubles began when women began working outside the home in large numbers.Needless to say, we’re all supposed to have nervous breakdowns in response to Bryant’s answer. For ourselves, we’re more concerned about the question, which came from another Post journalist, as Strauss describes:
Bryant was participating in a Washington Post Live event focused on the importance of ensuring that children read well by the end of third grade. In response to a question about how America became “so mediocre” in regard to educational outcomes, he said:
“I think both parents started working. The mom got in the work place.”
STRAUSS: During a conversation about what states are doing to increase reading proficiency, the moderator of the panel, award-winning Washington Post journalist Mary Jordan, asked the three governors how America got “so mediocre” in regard to reading proficiency rates and educational outcomes. Bryant answered first.Jordan didn’t win just any award. In 2003, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.
(That’s when you pretty much know that you’re in major trouble.)
To hear Jordan ask her question, click here. Rather clearly, her question implies that educational outcomes are in decline in this country. But uh-oh! On domestic and international measures, the opposite is true.
How does Jordan not know that? More to the point, how does Strauss not know? Strauss is employed by the Washington Post as an expert on education. But she shows no sign of seeing the problem with Jordan’s question, or with the fact that all three governors tried to explain our ongoing decline.
According to the best data we have, we are not in a time of decline. Test scores have been rising for decades on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the uniformly-praised “gold standard” of American educational testing. American students are also doing better on the major international tests.
Jordan doesn’t seem to know that. Incredibly, neither does Strauss. Three governors don’t seem to know either. Maybe they’ve spent too much time reading the Washington Post!
Tomorrow, we’ll see this same depressing problem in this horrifying report by Salon’s David Sirota. There are no facts anywhere in this land, certainly not concerning the schools. Beyond that, it’s very, very hard to grasp our giant cluelessness as a people.
How did we ever get this far if this is what we’re like?