Even the wonks don’t want to be bothered!


We’d love to hear Wonkblog roar: For years, we have been chronicling the liberal world’s apparent disinterest in public school issues.

Put that another way—the liberal world’s apparent detachment from the interests of black kids. Hispanic kids too!

Because no one cares about public school issues, the nation’s elites determine the way such issues get reported. For example, a set of familiar standard scripts determines the way reading and math scores get reported.

All over the mainstream press corps, reporters stress the achievement gaps and disappear the achievement gains. It’s perfectly clear that no one cares about this rolling deception, or about the retrograde political themes which get advanced this way.

No one seems to care about this. And by that, we do mean no one.

Case in point: Consider the way Wonkblog reacted to the recent release of the 2013 NAEP scores.

As you can tell from its name, Wonkblog is the official “crib” for the nation’s brainiest wonks. Ezra Klein started the site, which does a lot of work on a wide array on topics. Klein now manages a roster of wonkish sidekicks.

The new NAEP scores were released on November 7. Aside from the standard interest in national scores, there was special interest regarding score gains in the Washington, D.C. public schools.

Wonkblog is based in D.C.!

All kinds of wonkish technical issues are involved in test score reporting. You’d think this general topic would be right up Wonkblog’s alley.

You might think that, but go ahead—scroll back through the Wonbkblog listings. You’ll find treatments of every conceivable policy issue. But you won’t find a single report on the new NAEP scores.

Wonkblog didn’t go there!

Back in July, we reported the same darn thing when the NAEP released the new scores in its “Long Term Trend” study. It’s an older, companion study to the “Main NAEP,” whose scores were released this month.

What happened when the “Long Term Trend” scores got released? Not a peep at Wonkblog!

In fairness to the Wonkblog staff, they may be deferring to their owners, the Washington Post. No one promotes the establishment line on public education quite the way the Post does. Maybe Wonkblog feels it isn’t supposed to go there.

Alternate explanation: The Post publishes two education blogs—one by long-time education reporter Jay Mathews, the other by Valerie Strauss. Perhaps Wonkblog is leaving the field to them.

We’ve reported; you can decide. In our view, test scores simply scream for analysis by uncompromised gaggles of wonks. The bullshit is heavy; the data are rich.

They’re Wonkblog. Let’s hear them roar!

Tomorrow: Disaggregated TIMSS scores, 2011


  1. "Put that another way—the liberal world’s apparent detachment from the interests of black kids. Hispanic kids too"

    Folks - this very,very,very sad.

    Tell this guy to stop and seek help.

  2. Excellent idea, and I will send along this article.

  3. The fix is in -- in the pages of the NY Times and Washington Post. Obviously. -E

  4. Bone-gnawer keeps gnawing on liberals for an admiring audience of three and a half.

    In the meantime - never has the South been refighting the Civil War more virulently than now, and grownups are writing about it:


    It is perfectly clear where bone-gnawer's sympathies are - what is not clear is why he doesn't come out openly. His minuscule audience would swallow neo-confederate talk with equal admiration.

    1. Yes, because he complains liberals don't care about black and hispanic kids, and ignore gains in recent NAEP test scores among those communities, he's really a neo-confederate.

      Are you FUCKING stupid, or is it congenital?

    2. Anon 6:16 a.m.

      An audience of three and a half, and one of them is you! Things are really bad.

      As apparently one of the remaining two and a half in his audience, it's news to me that I'm an admirer of neo-confederates.

    3. There is only 1 troll to worry about, so for the sake of your writing and your readers, ban this troll.

    4. there are no trolls in the usual sense if there is a question of the blog flying under a false flag. if and when it becomes obvious that somerby is in fact a secret anti-liberal or con or gop-er, then *he* becomes a troll, and anyone who supports him is also a troll.

      btw, this dynamic is nonpartisan. it would work the same way for somebody who was false flagging their ideology as conservative when they were really a secret liberal. then the liberal supporters of the secretly liberal blogger would be the trolls, not the conservate commenters protesting the blogger.

    5. Lots of people who designate themselves as being conservative or liberal have mixed views.

      Who is going to decide that Somerby isn't what he says that he is? The same people who contest Pres. Obama's claims to being a Christian?

    6. "Lots of people who designate themselves as being conservative or liberal have mixed views. "

      thats somerbys problem. he should not designate himself a liberal from what ive seen on this blog. hes making life hard for himself if he would like to avoid criticism, but somerby seems more interested in having an impact and his blogging under a false flag (imo) does give his words much more impact with true liberals than if he were to come out, as so many have done, and admit that he has had a change of politics. or, he could, at the very least, just never say anything more about how he sees himself ideologically. no charge.

    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    8. There's no false flag. That is to say, Bob is a liberal. But the blog is specifically devoted to the media critique. Yes, Bob focuses primarily on the liberal and the mainstream media. Why? Probably because (a) pointing out that Glenn Beck is insane serves no purpose; pure bullshit is Beck's trademark; same goes for Hannity and co. (b) Fox News has enough detractors (c) and this is most important: because Bob believes that the so-called Liberal media falls on the job and does not deliver the message. There are several modes of failure. One is being unprepared with the basic facts. Two is constantly harping on the same old tropes, e.g. racism, without having supporting facts. Three is not covering certain issues at all, the above being an example of that. Sometimes he may be off the mark, but I do think that his is a sincere sentiment.

    9. "Sometimes he may be off the mark, but I do think that his is a sincere sentiment."

      if he sincerely believes hes a liberal, then he is not guilty of false flag blogging but instead the much less serious offense of being ignorant of what a liberal is. false flagging requires intent, not just effect.

      but i give him the benefit of the doubt that he is not ignorant of what a liberal is, and while i cant read his mind directly, i can try to infer his true ideology from his columns. i and others reach a different conclusion from you, that he is not a liberal. i wouldnt go any further and try to classify him as to what he actually is, if anything in particular.

  5. Well, The Post DOES have Valerie Strauss. And she generally does a decent job.

    But many of the other education reporters are not so hot. And then there's Jay Mathews, who has misrepresented the quality of and research on Advanced Placement courses for a very long time. To top it off, there's Jo-Ann Armao who writes the eduction editorials for The Post. She's a boatload of atrocious. And then some.

    However, as Bob Somerby keeps pointing out, such is the general state of education reporting, from Julia Ryan at The Atlantic, to the "talented" Amanda Ripley, to the often nescient Emily Richmond over at the (ahem) Educated Reporter.


  6. Stephanie Simon at Politico is doing real education reporting. It's regular reporting, but on the subject of education. She doesn't do "analysis" or "think pieces" (thank God).

    I'm not looking for an expert or "analysis." I'd settle for a compilation and then explanation of some basic facts at this point, and she's doing that.

    I don't know what to think about the fact that Politico is the only national outlet doing education reporting-that probably says something terrible all by itself. It's a shame because of course the people who send their kids to US public schools (by and large) don't read Politico.

    USA Today isn't bad either. They took apart Rhee's claims in DC when no one else was. They also did an excellent series on for-profit "cyber schools". They were one of the first to do that (outside of local reporters).

    I don't know why no one cares about public schools. I would argue they don't care about ANY public schools. While it's true they don't document the gains black children have made in test scores, that may be because they do such a lousy job on ALL children in public schools.

    The whole frame is Unions Versus Reformers. It has very little to do with actual public schools or experiences in public schools which is amazing, because of course the vast majority of people attended public schools. It's something a lot of us share.

    Duncan was repeating the standard media line after his "suburban moms" gaffe and she actually corrected him a piece. With facts. She disaggregated tests scores (a term and practice I know only from reading this site). I almost fell off my chair.

    1. Simon does write some good pieces. And you're right, USA Today did take apart Rhee's alleged "miracle" work in the DC schools.

  7. It's always interesting how the narrative on failing public schools trumps actual experience. I was talking with my daughter's boyfriend. He's 25 and an engineer. He attended public schools in a suburb of Pittsburgh and then a private college. He was telling me how US public school kids can't compete with kids in other countries in math and science. But he went to public schools 8 years ago and he competes with adults from other countries in engineering. He seems to be doing well at that. He actually works for a Japanese company in the US. He was honest enough to admit that he was in the middle of the pack in his public high school.
    So how did he overcome the (claimed) huge disadvantage of attending a US public school? He doesn't know. He is just convinced US public schools suck in math and science. HE doesn't suck, obviously. All those other dummies do.

    1. Your daughter's boyfriend has bought into the myth reported by the mainstream press. So have any others, including educators.

    2. What your daughter's boyfriend is trying to tell you is simply that he thinks the schools could do a lot better. Don't we all think that? Anyone who has been through school and/or had a child go through school has seen areas where the schools are doing a terrible job and its incomprehensible. My daughter had a chemistry teacher who did not teach. The kids complained about him that year just as they had been complaining about him for many years but nothing was done. So, they learned hardly any chemistry but what they could figure out for themselves.

  8. This education stuff is just more filth from this blogger to bash liberals.

    He would have a shred of credibility if he has ever bone-gnawed Charles Murray and others of his ilk.

    1. I think the word retard works. I think it evokes something, or someone, held back.

      So, when I call you a retard, I don't mean it as offensive to people of flagging intelligence, I mean it as offensive only to you.

      But, rather than _just_ curse your darkness, I'll also light a candle, to help you on your way.

      It is called a google "site" search.

      charles murray site:dailyhowler.com
      charles murary site:dailyhowler.blogspot.com

      Don't let the door break your tail bone as I kick it closed on your way the fuck out.

    2. As a one-legged person, you might think twice about entering an ass-kicking contest.

      Lets see what you God wrote

      TUESDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2010

      PART 1—DOES JUAN WILLIAMS NEED A PSYCHIATRIST (permalink): It’s the law! Every liberal knows he must reject all work by Charles Murray. In part for that reason, the snark was general about Murray’s piece in the Post “Outlook” section this Sunday.
      In these parts, we disagree. We think progressives should consider the syndrome described in Murray’s piece—a syndrome we saw at play in a series of harmful political events just in this past week alone.


      All around the political world, we saw incidents in the past week which illustrated Murray’s larger thesis—incidents which worked to harm liberal and progressive interests. But all around the liberal web, snarking liberals showed disdain for Murray’s thesis—even as progressive interests were harmed by the type of conduct which stems from the general syndrome he describes.

      end quote.

      The bone-gnawer gnawed on Juan Williams, gnawed on, surprise, surprise LIBRULZ and kissed Murray's ass. Which is exactly what one would expect, given that he is the UBER angry white male. I though he might have strictly ignored Murray, and it is interesting that he for all practical purposes supports him.

      Bone-gnawer is like Coulter et al. - push the boundaries of what can be said "("our black's are better than their blacks") and still be able to defend against charges of bigotry.

      Bone-gnawer - GO TO TEXAS - KISS RICK PERRY'S ASS AND START CAMPAIGNING FOR TEXAS' (the land of the pure) SECESSION from the degenerate, librul US. You KNOW you want to.

    3. Insane terrorizing troll, needs to be banned.

    4. There is one insane terrorizing troll who is trying to destroy the writer and commenters and who needs to be banned.

    5. Murray's thesis, that the elites who run the US are an isolated group who know nothing and care not about the masses they lead, is one that I would think liberals would (and should) get behind, because it's true. Murray has awful opinions, but even people with awful opinions are often correct.

      The quality of comments on this blog is deplorable. I wish Somerby would either find the time to moderate them properly, or just turn them off.

    6. http://ruthsreport.blogspot.com/2013/05/bob-somerby-floats-in-his-own-toilet.html

      I think 'bone-gnawer" is accurate and is only mildly pejorative.

      It is my very sincere opinion that the blogger is mentally ill and needs help.

    7. The blog you linked to above specializes in barely incoherent, stream-of-consciousness rants. The top blog on its blogroll has had a bizarre vendetta against Bob for years. Both of them are deeply weird and nutty people.

    8. hardindr:

      Don't let the blogger do your thinking for you. Address the points that the person I cited makes.

      Bone-gnawer is taking his fans for a ride. In his zeal for liberal-bashing he more or less lies outright - like the "death-wish" he claims to see in a comment someone made in response to a liberal article.

      After virulently defending Zimmerman (and gleefully liberal-bashing in the process) have you noticed how smoothly he has dropped the topic?

      A thoroughly despicable human(?) being who seems to have free-floating hate for liberals. If the hard nativist right doesn't claim him as one of their own and give him a paid gig to liberal-bash, he will end up in a padded cell.

    9. I don't think Bob hates liberals (since he is one), he only hates the way they hurt their own interests by making their case so poorly (or not making it at all) and needlessly insulting potential allies. I think Bob's coverage of the Zimmerman case was fair and reasonable: he never said Zimmerman was a good guy or innocent, only that there wasn't enough evidence to convict him.

    10. I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but the Zimmerman trial is over. Which might explain why TDH blog entries no longer cover it.

    11. "deadratNovember 23, 2013 at 11:47 PM

      I'm sorry to be the one to break this to you, but the Zimmerman trial is over. Which might explain why TDH blog entries no longer cover it."

      Oh the irony (remember something from 2000?).

      Could it be that Z's post-trial behavior tilts the scale of evidence and although he cannot be tried again criminally (I am sure there will be civil trial) in a moral court bone-gnawer now stands guilty of virulently defending one who, driven by inner demons, needlessly took a young life?

    12. OK hardindr:

      Do you think the following is true?

      On the rare occasions when he criticizes the right, the tone is something like "I wish he/she didn't do it, or he/she isn't being helpful"

      But there is strong personal venom ("broken loser") directed at liberals and although Limbaugh, Hannity et al's income is orders of magnitude higher than what ANY liberal figure makes - bone-gnawer brings in the money liberals allegedly make every chance he gets with undisguised hate and envy?

  9. Excellent post. Even better commentary. Hopefully someone will blog about the latter elsewhere on the net.

  10. Twitter copies of this post sent along to Wonkblog writers.