In our view, another fine mess: We’re headed to Durham to get the scoop on life in today’s second grade.
We had planned to leave a short post concerning some aspects of our Kennedy viewing last weekend. Instead, we’ll note one point which kept occurring to us as we watched the many discussion programs on C-Span 3.
As we watched, we kept thinking this: In truth, the American giant of that decade wasn’t President Kennedy.
We were surprised by things several people said concerning President Kennedy’s recklessness with regard to crowd security issues. We don’t think we had ever heard that before. We don’t know if those statements are true.
But visions of Camelot to the side, President Kennedy simply wasn’t that era’s giant. This thought occurred to us time and again as we watched the weekend’s programs.
We had a bit more to offer from our weekend viewing, especially concerning the culture of conspiracy theory. Didn’t our modern culture of say-and-believe-whatever-you-please get a large jump start there?
Then we got hit by the latest education report at the Atlantic.
Yesterday, the piece in question was being featured at the Atlantic’s site. Its headline is a quotation from an interview with a former teacher: “It Feels Like Education Malpractice.”
That interview in the Atlantic felt like malpractice too.
When did journalism completely cease to exist in our floundering nation? The howlers which litter that interview piece are really something to see.
In the course of the interview, all the claims shown below are offered by the former teacher. They were typed and published, without comment or further questioning, by the Atlantic writer:
“There hasn’t been money invested in eradicating poverty since the ’60s, with President Johnson’s Great Society.”
“Almost one out of two kids in public school now is in poverty.”
“In America, the wealthiest school is going to get ten times more funding than the lowest one.”
“For every dollar my [New York City public] school was getting, one in the suburbs was getting ten dollars.”
Those statements are all bizarre, absurd or false. Except at the Atlantic!
Needless to say, the interview included the standard paeans to miraculous Finland, with the mandatory cherry-picked praise for those practices with which the interview subject is inclined to agree. Beyond that, there were several ridiculous claims about various types of educational practice.
(Whatever one thinks of various testing practices, the former teacher didn’t seem to understand the nature of “value-added” evaluation. This is amazingly common.)
Then too, there were the bungled attempts to describe some research-based studies. “Those kids are doing great,” the interview subject exclaims at one point, talking up a favored educational practice.
Predictably: when we checked the proffered link, we found no such assessment.
At another point, a link was offered to an earlier Atlantic piece. When we clicked, we found ourselves reading this puzzling passage about the rising achievement gap between low-income and high-income kids:
GARLAND (8/28/13): [In 1963], black children lagged behind their white peers in school by more than three years. For poor children, the picture was somewhat more encouraging: Those in the 10th percentile of income fell behind the children in the upper echelon of wealth by about a year or so. Poverty was a major obstacle, but not so large that it couldn't be scaled by the brightest and most ambitious.In that piece from August, Sarah Garland said these things:
Fifty years later, social class has become the main gateway—and barrier—to opportunity in America.
The country is far from fulfilling King's dream that race no longer limit children's opportunities, but how much income their parents earn is more and more influential. According to a 2011 research study by Stanford sociologist Sean Reardon, the test-score gap between the children of the poor (in the 10th percentile of income) and the children of the wealthy (in the 90th percentile) has expanded by as much as 40 percent and is now more than 50 percent larger than the black-white achievement gap—a reversal of the trend 50 years ago. Underprivileged children now languish at achievement levels that are close to four years behind their wealthy peers.
In 1963, low-income kids trailed high-income kids by about a year. (At what point in their school careers? Don’t ask!) Two paragraphs later, we are told that this test-score gap has expanded by as much as 40 percent, and that low-income kids are now four years behind their high-income peers.
Mathematically, those claims don’t jibe. At the Atlantic, no one has noticed.
The new interview in the Atlantic is a stunning collection of howlers. In our post-journalistic, upper-class world, such work is par for the course.