Persistently, the New York Times simply defies belief: Bill Keller’s column didn’t appear in today’s hard-copy New York Times. For that reason, we hadn’t seen it until we saw Paul Krugman’s link.
We clicked the link and started reading. In paragraph 5, we hit this:
KELLER (8/19/13): [The Common Core] is an ambitious undertaking, and there is plenty of room for debate about precisely how these standards are translated into classrooms. But the Common Core was created with a broad, nonpartisan consensus of educators, convinced that after decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education, the country had to come together on a way to hold our public schools accountable. Come together it did—for a while.“After decades of embarrassing decline in K-12 education?” Which decades is Keller talking about?
There is, of course, no perfect way to measure educational attainment. But it’s astounding to see a person like Keller making a statement like that without any apparent sense that it needs explaining.
Every journalist at Keller’s paper—and he was in charge of the paper through 2011—cites the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the NAEP) as the “gold standard” of educational testing. But the NAEP shows very large gains in reading and math over the last several decades. As a general matter, American students have shown similar progress on international tests, although the NAEP goes back farther. (It dates to 1971.)
We’ve often said this about the NAEP: Everybody praises the NAEP, and no one ever reports what the NAEP data show. Meanwhile, every hack and his low-IQ uncle has spent the last X numbers of years moaning about the alleged decline in our public schools—even though NAEP data, which everyone swears by, seem to show precisely the opposite.
Bill Keller was executive editor of the Times until September 2011! Concerning this basic part of American life, he seems to have no idea what he’s talking about.
There’s nothing especially new about that. This is a persistent general fact about your “press corps.”
To Keller’s credit, his headline rhymes. War on the Core, his headline skillfully says.