Today’s Times: the Good, the Bad, and the Outrageous

It’s great to have Saturday morning education stories to mull, but the New York Times may be pushing the envelope with this line-up.

1.  To the Barricades.  Leave it to Arizona to shut down an ethnic-studies program for Mexican Americans. Pretty politically incorrect until you read (front page)  that on the walls of the program’s Tucson public school classroom hang a poster of Che Guevara and a protest sign reading “United Together in La Lucha!,” that one of the teachers calls Ben Franklin (yes the guy with the glasses) a  racist, and the kids are reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed and Occupied America. But can they read?   Toward the end of the story we learn that “Tucson’s test scores are among the lowest in the state,” although the reporter gives no numbers. And shame on the Times for allowing this lame sentence to follow that inadequate one: “Officials here say those enrolled in the program do better on state tests than those of the same ethnicity who are not enrolled.” As we say in New York, Oy!

2.  Dillon is Back.  It’s nice to see that Sam Dillon survived his kerfuffle with Jay Green (see here).  And this profile of William H. Fitzhugh, “the cantankerous publisher of a journal that showcases high school research papers,” should be safe enough – though it is depressing. As Fitzhugh tells Dillon, “Most kids don’t know how to write, don’t know any history, and that’s a disgrace…. Writing is the most dumbed-down subject in our schools.”  And Fitzhugh is going broke!  Tucson, are you listening?

3. Killing at Millard South.  For some reason the Times uses this tragic story – in which a 17-year-old kills his school’s vice-principal and himself – to complain about politicians “cowering before the gun lobby.”  Did no one tell the Gray Lady that the kid was the son of a police officer and it was the dad’s weapon which was used in the shooting?

4. Adequacy in Jersey.  This is not an editorial about sex but about money. The Times takes Gov. Christie to task for cutting education spending, arguing – a bit oddly, considering that New Jersey consistently ranks either number one or two in per pupil spending in the country – that the cuts violate the state’s constitutional mandate, as interpreted by the courts,  to provide citizens an “adequate” education.  I think the paper has it backwards: since the state wasn’t educating kids with what the court deemed “adequate” funds, the paper should be railing against politicians cowering before the teachers union lobby or maybe even recommending that educators  be held responsible for misappropriating (adequate) funds.  Good luck, Chris and Andy!

Oh, yes. And Viva la lucha!

–Peter Meyer

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