Monday, November 09, 2015

KOLR report misses the point about Common Core

Education is one of the most difficult beats for newspaper and television reporters, making it almost a certainty that readers and viewers are not going to receive an accurate picture of what is going on in their school systems.

Part of it is logistics. Reporters have a hard time finding out what is going on in the classroom because they have no access unless there is some special event and they are invited. And in that type of artificial environment, the reporter is not getting a picture of education as a whole, but simply of one special classroom project or a teacher of the year, or something of that nature.

Reporters' access is limited to what upper school administrators and public relations coordinators want them to see. The reporters are directed to specific events and to specific teachers or students. The idea is for the public to see the school district exactly as the upper administration wants it to be seen.

Though I have been writing for the past couple of years about the media manipulation that occurred during the C. J. Huff Administration, this is not limited to Joplin. Everyone does it. In the best of school districts, it is done with an eye toward keeping the public informed about the positive things that go on and to make sure that when something bad happens, the information is provided, but not in such a way that the good is forgotten.

In the worst of school districts, it is all about image and making sure the public does not hear about the bad news and if it does happen to slip out, it is either discredited or it goes through a spin machine and comes out unrecognizable.

The same thing happens with education coverage on a state and national scale. I am still waiting to see a newspaper or television report that adequately explains what Common Core is all about. It certainly has not been done in this area.

It has also been handled inadequately at the state level where newspapers with the resources of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Kansas City Star have failed to tell readers that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has done its level best to neuter the law that required that Missouri come up with its own education standards. Common Core has been pushed throughout the hearings that were held and Common Core opponents have been marginalized as right-wing lunatics. DESE and the U. S. Department of Education are guilty of the same manipulation of the media that is practiced in local school districts.

The newspapers have failed to follow the tried-and-true motto of investigative journalism- Follow the money.

They also have not taken the time to check out some of the early assertions about Common Core, which are now accepted as fact by the traditional media, though many of them are buried in lies.

Governors had little or nothing to do with coming up with Common Core and teachers had virtually nothing to do with it. It has been accepted that the Obama Administration has nothing to do with the creation of state standards because it is illegal for the federal government to involve itself in the creation of standards.

Few articles have been written about the millions of dollars in federal Race to the Top money that has been used to essentially bribe state education departments into accepting Common Core standards, standards that have never been tested and contain many elements that have education professionals worried.

What at first appears to be a thorough examination of Common Core by KOLR in Springfield contains many of the same flaws that other reports have exhibited. It talks about all of the states that have accepted Common Core, but spends less than five seconds mentioning that they have received incentives for doing so.

And while it is hard to explain everything about the background of Common Core in less than four minutes, to lump 'A Nation at Risk," "No Child Left Behind," "Common Core," and "Race to the Top" together in such a small package guarantees that you are not going to be able to do justice to any of them.

Of course, this is sweeps month, and so the accompanying video is only part one of a series, so maybe KOLR will explore the issue in more depth.

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