Supplemental: A Vox on American public schools!


Bad report, gloomy conclusion:
In the sixteen years we’ve been doing this site, we’ve learned one major lesson.

We expect to announce our key finding next week. Yesterday, on a visit to Vox, we were reminded of this depressing finding.

When we clicked to Vox, we found this report by Libby Nelson. It sat beneath an intriguing headline:

“US public schools are better than they've ever been”

Is that claim true? Such sweeping claims are hard to assess. But we were eager to see how Nelson supported the claim.

How did Nelson support that claim? Very poorly! In some ways, we’d have to say that Nelson’s piece is one of the worst analysis pieces we have ever read.

There’s an irony to that fact. It concerns the lofty site at which the report appears.

As readers may know, Ezra Klein started Vox as a source for the new, smarter journalism. The new site was designed to “explain the news.”

Nelson is discussing an important, widely-flogged topic—the quality of our public schools. Her report is so inept that it called our gloomiest learning to mind.

What’s wrong with Nelson’s report? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. For today, let’s describe her piece:

Nelson’s piece is in the form of an interview with Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at Holy Cross. Nelson poses questions to Schneider, then records his responses.

(Yesterday, Nelson listed Schneider as an assistant professor of history. The error has been corrected.)

In this, her introduction to the piece, Nelson provides an overview:
NELSON (10/13/14): Polls about education in the US quickly find a paradox: most people like their neighborhood schools, but they think education as a whole in the US is going downhill. Everyone thinks their neighborhood school is the exception, not the rule.

Jack Schneider, an assistant professor of education at the College of the Holy Cross, makes another argument. He says there's never been a better time to be a student in American public schools, which educate a broader swathe of the population more successfully than ever before. We talked about his argument and about the dominance of the crisis narrative in education. Our conversation has been edited slightly for clarity and length.
Most people think education is going downhill. But Schneider says our public schools have never been better!

That would be a significant claim, if anything qualified any more. But when we read Nelson’s report, it struck us as grossly incompetent.

Please note—Schneider’s answers have been “edited slightly for clarity and length.” This means we can’t be entirely sure of what he actually said, including what he may have said that Nelson chose to leave out.

That said, the interview addresses an important, widely-debated question—and it strikes us as tremendously incompetent.

Nelson graduated from Northwestern in 2009. Presumably, she’s one of the bright young writers who were going to make Vox the place for the new, smarter journalism.

Her interview didn’t strike us that way. It called to mind the gloomy lesson we’ve drawn from the past sixteen years.

Are American public schools better than ever? Our journalism certainly isn’t!

Tomorrow, what Schneider seems to have said.


  1. Clearly this incompetent reporter and fuzzy thinking professor could have spent at least a month on the gaps.

    1. You never learn. $ 6.

    2. Perhaps he enjoys making you look like an idiot throwing your money away and thinking you are making some sort of point.

      Not that I have you actually being true to your word and paying up.

      Big hat, no cattle.

  2. That said, it took only a few minutes to read what Schenider said. We look forward to spending a lot longer reading what Bob Somerby wants to tell us he SEEMED to say.

  3. "Most people think education is going downhill."

    Quite a remarkable and broad statement, and I wonder what Somerby bases this upon.

    Had he said that "most people" whatever that means think that "public education in the inner city is going downhill" he might have an argument he can substantiate, since we are beseiged with propaganda aimed at defunding those schools and destroying teachers' unions.

    But I'll guess that just about everywhere else, especially the suburbs, people are quite happy with public education.

    1. People in the inner city line up for lotteries to get their kids out of public schools.

      People in the suburbs line up for tickets to see movies about people in the inner city lining up for lotteries to
      get their kids out of public schools.

      People all over America pay and bet good money for games played by kids who honed their skills in inner city public schools.

    2. ....and then they beat their wives and girlfriends.

    3. It is also possible that "most people" think that public schools in general have never been better, but there is still lots of room for improvement.

      That's quite different from saying they are going "downhill."

  4. "What’s wrong with Nelson’s report? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. For today, let’s describe her piece:"

    What's wrong with this blog? We'll answer that question now.

    Bob apparently thinks his readers are too dumb to click on a link, read the piece, then listen to his take on it in one, succinct, crafted post.

    Nope, he's got to "describe" it for us first as if to spare his loyal readers all the bother of independent thinking, lest their take differ from his.

    That strawman now built, he will then think all day to come up with some brilliant insights which he will share "tomorrow."

    Unless, of course, he gets distracted by another stray brilliant thought about something completely different.

    1. People don't read long posts.

      It is better if people go and read the article for themselves before getting Somerby's take on it. That is more likely to happen this way, than if he spared people the effort by immediately giving his opinions. My bet would be that he has already written tomorrow's post.

    2. Well, "people don't read long posts" is actually the most succinct criticism of Somerby yet.

      And do you really believe that Somerby actually writes anything in advance? Oh my poor child!

    3. $ I'm losing count.

    4. "Her report is so inept that it called our gloomiest learning to mind."

      How thoughtful of Somerby to resist giving his opinion immediately.

    5. Well it was the gloomiest. And, that said, there was learning involved. But snark like yours has been flogged to death like a beaten horse.

    6. Anon @ 2:22 - don't feel alone. Most four-year-olds share your problem.

  5. Anybody want to start speculating about what Bob will reveal next week as his key finding after 16 years of blogging through the melting drifts of intellectual culture?

    1. Bob will reveal: Chomsky is right.


    2. !!! How Dr.great Restore My Broken Marriage And Bring Back My Lover !!!

      My name is Sarah. I am from Spain i am here to spread the entire work of a real spell caster called Dr. great who just helped me to retrieve back my union with my husband and make our relationship very stronger and brought joy and happiness into our marriage. I have been scammed by a lot of fake spell casters but i was later introduced to Dr. great by a friend named tucker stacey to this great man who help her to restore her relationship back with his husband.He also help me and wipe away my tears. So viewers of this wonderful testimony who wants to contact him





      5. GETTING OF JOB.


      7. MONEY SPELL.


      9. HERBAL CARE.

      10. BEAUTY SPELL.


      So brothers and sisters i have tested this man DR.great and i have found that he is real and genuine. i am now the happiest woman on earth today, Contact his via email id and be joyful in your also contact him on his web site: More gratitude and thanks to you again the great DOCTOR great.


  6. I want to testify that my wife is back after a Divorce !!!

    Hello to every one out here, am here to share the unexpected miracle that happened to me three days ago, My name is Jeffrey Dowling,i live in Texas,USA.and I`m happily married to a lovely and caring wife,with two kids A very big problem occurred in my family seven months ago,between me and my wife so terrible that she took the case to court for a divorce she said that she never wanted to stay with me again,and that she did not love me anymore So she packed out of my house and made me and my children passed through severe pain. I tried all my possible means to get her back,after much begging,but all to no avail and she confirmed it that she has made her decision,and she never wanted to see me again. So on one evening,as i was coming back from work,i met an old friend of mine who asked of my wife So i explained every thing to her,so she told me that the only way i can get my wife back,is to visit a spell caster,because it has really worked for her too So i never believed in spell,but i had no other choice,than to follow her advice. Then she gave me the email address of the spell caster whom she visited.(}, So the next morning,i sent a mail to the address she gave to me,and the spell caster assured me that i will get my wife back the next day what an amazing statement!! I never believed,so he spoke with me,and told me everything that i need to do. Then the next morning, So surprisingly, my wife who did not call me for the past seven {7}months,gave me a call to inform me that she was coming back So Amazing!! So that was how she came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and she apologized for her mistake,and for the pain she caused me and my children. Then from that day,our relationship was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, was now stronger than how it were before,by the help of a spell caster . So, i will advice you out there to kindly visit the same website,if you are in any condition like this,or you have any problem related to “bringing your ex back. So thanks to Dr Brave for bringing back my wife,and brought great joy to my family once again.{} , Thanks.


  7. My name is yurich jerry am from USA. i want to use this opportunity to thank my great doctor who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man DR.Ogboni brought my husband back to me, i had three lovely kids for my husband, about four years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. i felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i should not worry about it at all, so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man email address. i was doubting if this man was the solution, so i contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i deed them all, he told me to wait for just two day and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully deed what this great man asked me to do and for sure after two days i heard a knock on the door, in a great surprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away,since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy.that's why i want to say a big thank you to DR.Ogboni spiritual temple. This great man made me to understand that there is no problem on earth that has no solution so please if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man. you can email him at: