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The strange media coverage of Obama’s education policies

NBC News president Steve Capus said his network’s Education Nation summit this week would be a fair, serious look at public education today—but it wasn’t even close, writes Washington Post education blogger Valerie Strauss. The events, panels, and discussions were sharply tilted toward Obama’s school reform agenda—focused in part on closing failing schools, expanding charter schools, and using standardized test scores to evaluate teachers. It gave short shrift to the enormous backlash against the plan from educators and parents around the country who say that Obama’s education priorities won’t improve schools but will narrow curriculum and drive good teachers out of the profession. NBC seemed to take for granted that Obama’s education policies are sound and will be effective. Seasoned journalists failed to ask hard questions and fell all over their subjects to be sympathetic. It was a forum for people to repeatedly misstate the positions of their opponents. The one school district that was the subject of a panel was New Orleans, which was remade after Hurricane Katrina with public charter schools. (Never mind that charter schools educate less than five percent of the school children in the country and can never be a systemic solution to the troubles that ail urban districts.) A panel on innovation was packed with charter school folks, sending a message that only charter schools are innovative, which they, by and large, are not…

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Laura Ascione

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