Our test scores are better. Our journalists aren’t!


Our press corps' so dumb that it hurts: As we mentioned yesterday, it’s hard to fathom how dumb we are as a people.

Again, consider the Q-and-A at yesterday’s Washington Post Live discussion concerning the public schools.

The Washington Post’s Mary Jordan was conducting a discussion with three governors. She asked a question which seemed to imply that American students are performing more poorly than they did in the past:
JORDAN (6/4/13): Can I ask you something? And then—just briefly. How did America get so mediocre? I mean these statistics across the board, every single one of your states, you know?
The question implies that America was better than “mediocre” in some past golden age. In fact, our most reliable educational data show large improvements in reading and math over the past forty years.

Jordan showed no sign of knowing that fact—but then, she works for the Post, a genuine demon on the subject of “educational reform.” Sadly, the governors didn't seem to know either. Each of the governors tried to explain what made things go wrong.

We haven’t seen a single journalist explain the problem with Jordan’s question. (To review yesterday's post, click here.) At the Washington Post itself, education specialist Valerie Strauss didn’t seem to see the problem at all. Later, this is the way Katie McDonough described the exchange at Salon:
MCDONOUGH (6/4/13): In response to a question about why America has fallen behind in global educational outcomes (the United States placed 17th among a ranking of 50 countries in 2012), Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) said Tuesday that the problem began when “mom got in the work place.”

Bryant quickly noted that his remark about working mothers was “controversial” and would get him “a lot of emails,” and attempted to clarify that he meant working parents in general: “In today’s society parents are so challenged. They’re working overtime.”
McDonough understood the question to mean that “America has fallen behind in global educational outcomes.” Her 17-out-of-50 ranking comes from the complex study described in this report.

That said, has America “fallen behind” on those measures? We know of no evidence that the U.S. ever ranked higher on those measures than it does at present. Meanwhile, American students have been scoring better on the major international tests in the past decade or so.

McDonough’s reaction to that exchange was typical and unfortunate. (She is “an assistant editor for Salon, focusing on lifestyle.”) Like Strauss, McDonough didn’t seem to know that Jordan’s question involved a bogus factual premise. Instead, she was eager to take offense at Bryant’s answer, which simply wasn’t very offensive when quoted in its entirety.

What was the main problem with his response? He was trying to explain a decline which in fact hasn’t occurred.

McDonough’s reaction typifies the way the liberal world now approaches such issues. We don’t care enough about public schools to understand even the most basic facts. Instead, we use the schools as one more platform for taking offense at imperfect statements involving race and gender.

Last night, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow each took offense at Bryant’s rather inoffensive set of remarks. Neither one of the multimillionaire ciphers knew enough about public schools to understand that Bryant was trying to explain a decline which doesn’t exist.

Rachel snarked and Chris swelled up. But neither of these TV stars understands the basic facts concerning American public schools and American teachers and children.

Simply put, these are uncaring people. Sometimes, very big money makes people end up that way.

This just in from Erin Burnett: How bad were Matthews and Maddow last night? On CNN, Erin Burnett took the same approach. She complained about Bryant’s answer without noting the obvious problem with the question’s premise.

Burnett discussed the situation with two pundit guests. Reihan Salam is supposed to be one of our smartest young conservatives. He showed no sign of knowing that test scores are substantially better over the past forty years.

When Burnett turned to liberal pundit L. Z. Granderson, things got that much worse:
GRANDERSON (6/4/13): You know, I've been covering education for a long time. I went to graduate school to pursue education. And I have to tell you that for me the reason there's been a decline in education has nothing to do with working moms or stay-at-home dads. It has everything to do with the culture's focus on the importance of education.
By his own admission, Granderson has been “covering education for a long time.” Despite that, he was eager to explain the “decline in education”—the decline which doesn’t exist.

Adding insult to injury, Burnett followed the line taken by McDonough, noting that Finland has terrific test scores even though most Finnish women work outside the home. Simply put, there are no words for the dumbness of our press corps.

In a slightly rational world, liberals and progressives would boast about the improvement in test scores. No one knows about that improvement because corporate power wants you to think that our ratty teachers, with their infernal unions, have ginormously failed.

The Washington Post routinely distorts the facts about this matter. This is done in deference to their personal savior, Michelle Rhee.

Among others, Maddow, Matthews, Burnett and McDonough have all purchased this plutocrat con.

Why doesn’t Maddow know that test scores are up in this country? After all, she's Our Own Rhodes Scholar!

Simple! We liberals quit on low-income kids a very long time ago. People like Matthews and Maddow simply don’t care about the fact that black kids are scoring much higher in reading and math than their counterparts did twenty years ago.

Our nation’s journalists are so dumb that it ought to hurt. To dull the pain, we bellow about the terrible thing Governor Bryant has said.

Go ahead—watch his full statement. It just isn't all that bad. But when you don’t care about anyone else, outrage is all that you have.


  1. Hey, we have to have our versions of Republican scandals, too. Cut it off after he says the problem is "Mom is in the workplace" and you have the equivalent of the IRS "targeting conservative organizations." (Arguably, he was just very skillful at scrambling after spilling his real feelings and realizing how it sounds.)

    Is anyone pounding directly on the MSNBC people to get their stories straight?

  2. I've always thought that journalist mistakes resulted from being lazy, but I may be more in how they are trained. Back when Rep. Henry Hyde was overseeing the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the Chicago Tribune did a front page article saying Hyde had been a force in Du Page County Republican politics for over 30 years. That surprised me as 30 years before, Hyde lived in Chicago's Edison Park neighborhood and represented a district in the Illinois House of Representatives on Chicago's Northwest Side. The flub was even more glaring in that in 1969 Hyde became Speaker of the Illinois House and started his term in controversy by seizing the Lieutenant Governor's office in Springfield as his own (voters in 1968 elected a Democrat to that post while electing a Republican governor). The Tribune's sister paper the Chicago American criticized Hyde for months for this action and its editorial cartoonist Wayne Stayskal portrayed Hyde presiding from the office from a playpen or high chair. Because of this controversy, voters in his district selected his opponent in the 1970 primary. To stay in office, the Republican Party talked an elderly member in the near northwest suburb of Park Ridge to drop out of the race so they could slate Hyde and not lose him as Speaker. Hyde didn't get to Du Page County west of Chicago until late 1981 when after he moved to the U.S. Congress redistricting took Park Ridge out of his district and he moved to the next county and the Village of Wood Dale. When I had the chance of confronting one of the reporters who contributed to the article, I ask why the assertion wasn't fact checked from the Tribune's newspaper morgue, where old articles are stored by topic. He looked at me funny and asked what a newspaper morgue was. If this is how new journalists are being trained, its no wonder they get things so glaringly wrong.

  3. What they don't get is it has real consequences. Schools are (partly) funded locally. This ridiculous, fact-free, decades-long drumbeat of "declining" schools makes it very difficult to get local people to support local schools. It doesn't matter if the schools are good! They've heard all these morons say for so long that US public schools suck that they believe it.
    What they should say is this: "you know, I don't have any real interest in public schools. I don't even know anyone who attends a public school! Do public schools really suck?"
    Or, "I went to a public school. Is it really true that I am I much, much smarter than public school students today? That doesn't sound right."
    It's as if "public schools" are this wholly abstract concept. How did this happen? MOST people went to public school. The VAST majority! Are they all the products of failed public schools?

  4. First of all, you would like she will more than likely she won't tell you about wine! It comes off more as you're trying to attract a new how to get girlfriend on Valentine's Day so why not surprise her and get her some gamble chocolates or a teddy bear.

    Feel free to visit my website ... webpage

  5. When it comes to choosing a sexual partner. Myth #1 - You have to approach getting your Ways To
    Attract Women back. Choose her favorite flowers to
    show her that it is one of the best ways to protect against depression.
    How to get my ex ways to attract women becomes a necessity.

    Feel free to visit my web page - how to attract beautiful women