A look at the shape of our world: The Columbia School of Journalism has reviewed the journalistic debacle created by Rolling Stone.
In our view, the review is best understood as an insider sham. Tomorrow, we’ll show you why we say that.
For today, let’s discuss the latest from Professor Cooper at Salon.
Today, our loudest liberal professor is shooting her mouth about the public schools. More specifically, she discusses the cheating scandal in the Atlanta schools, which has now produced the arrest and conviction of eleven teachers.
Last week, we noted that we didn’t favor treating this as a criminal matter. That said, the Atlanta teachers behaved in ways which were absurdly dishonest.
That is the background for Cooper’s latest screed.
Can we talk? It’s hard to convey the depth of the cluelessness which defines our public discourse. Right at the start of her latest piece, the professor offers us this:
COOPER (4/8/15): I don’t have to condone cheating in any form (and I don’t) to assert that what has happened in Atlanta to these teachers is a travesty. The pictures that emerged last week of handcuffed Black schoolteachers being led out of Southern courtrooms in one of the country’s largest urban Black school systems were absolutely heartbreaking.To Cooper, those teachers were working in a system “that is designed for black students not to succeed.” Since the 1990s, she says, we have seen a “massive conservative-led effort to defund public education in major urban areas throughout the country.”
Scapegoating Black teachers for failing in a system that is designed for Black children, in particular, not to succeed is the real corruption here. Since the early 1990s, we have watched the deprofessionalization of teaching, achieved through the proliferation of “teacher fellow” programs and the massive conservative-led effort to defund public education in major urban areas throughout the country. There is no longer a consensus that a good public education—a hallmark of American democracy—should be considered a public good.
Black children have for generations been the primary victims of this continuing social mendacity about the national value of education. More than 51 percent of children who attend public schools live in poverty. In Georgia, the percentage of Black children living in poverty hovers right around 39 percent. For Latino children, the number is consistently over 40 percent. Nationally, the number for Black children is 39 percent, according to most recent data, and 33 percent for Latino youth.
Do you know what else we’ve seen since the 1990s? We’ve seen major score gains by the nation’s black students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the so-called “gold standard” of domestic educational testing!
Those major score gains have been recorded in reading and math,
We’ll guess the professor has never heard about that. Certainly, very few people have, given the way this remarkable news is uniformly disappeared by the mainstream press.
Is something “wrong” with those data from the NAEP? You’ll never find out from slackers like Cooper, who has quite possibly never heard of the NAEP at all.
As a general rule, Cooper loud-mouths her way through life in the most salonistic way possible. Consider what she wrote in that paragraph about child poverty rates.
Good lord! Cooper is a professor at a major state university. She claims to be deeply concerned about the nation’s black youth.
Despite all that, she makes an utterly absurd presentation. She kicks it off with a claim which is flatly false:
Simply put, it isn’t true that “more than 51 percent of children who attend public schools live in poverty.” In the real world, that statistic represents the percentage of public school students involved in the federal lunch program.
That said, the cut-off for eligibility in the lunch program is roughly twice the poverty level. Cooper has started with a statistic which is just flatly false.
From that initial claim, Cooper proceeds to a blatant absurdity. In what world would 51 percent of all students be living in poverty while only 39 percent of black kids in a southern state were in the same situation?
Obviously, that doesn’t make sense. But as she blunderbussed ahead, the professor didn’t notice. Salon simply threw it in print.
What explains the puzzling array of statistics in that paragraph? Presumably, all the numbers except the first are actual measures of children in poverty. The initial 51 percent figure is not. This explains the absurdity the professor missed, in which poverty rates for black and Hispanic kids are said to be substantially lower than the poverty rate for American students as a whole.
In fairness, Cooper is comparing different types of groups in that puzzling passage. Her initial figure concerns “students who attend public schools.” All the other figures represent “children.”
That said, this minor inconsistency doesn’t explain the absurdity of that set of statistics. The problem lies in the fact that her initial statistic isn’t a measure of “poverty” at all.
It’s hard to grasp the sheer inanity of our public discourse! In almost every subject area, our discourse is shaped by incompetent boobs who are basically working to narrative.
In this case, Cooper presents the latest gloomy picture of our disintegrating public schools—a picture which flies in the face of our most reliable data. From there, she moves to a plainly absurd account of student poverty rates.
On the one hand, Cooper is a professor at a major state university. She is also a weekly voice at Salon, which was once a bright liberal site.
Salon quit on bright a long time ago in a marketing decision. Concerning Rutgers, who knows?
Concerning the right of readers to get serious information about our schools, that also ended a long time ago.
Our big newspapers seem to work from gloomy narratives scripted by the very “reformers” Cooper hates. Rather than correct the record, Cooper presents an even gloomier portrait, built from a script of her own.
It’s hard to believe the ease with which mad prophets like Cooper degrade our nation’s terrific black kids. But there she is, once again, relentlessly talking them down.
In almost every area, this is the way our “national discourse” works. Sadly, there is no way to get people to see that this is the actual state of affairs in our clownishly failing culture.
Tomorrow: Back to the CSJ and its pseudo-critique of the Stone