Part 3—327 words: Just an impression:
For many people, it’s hard to see how dumb and uncaring our discourse really is.
Beyond that, it’s hard to see how deeply uncaring our modern elites really are. This includes our journalistic elite—and our pseudo-liberal elite.
How uncaring are these elites? For one example, consider that key paragraph in Gail Collins’ recent column about the public schools:
COLLINS (5/26/12): If there’s an education crisis, it’s one of at least 50 years duration. By the best national assessment we have available, it appears that the math skills of American fourth- and eighth-graders have been going up slowly but steadily for decades. Reading scores are also a tad better, although pretty flat. We need to do much better, and the fight over what to do next is mainly between people who think the big problem is a lack of resources and those who think it’s all about accountability and standards and tests. Romney is definitely way over in camp two.In her overall column, Collins was pretending to discuss Mitt Romney’s education proposals. But at that start of that key paragraph, she pretended to discuss the state of the public schools over the past fifty years.
In part, Collins’ assessment was right. In last Wednesday’s speech, Candidate Romney dumbly said that President Obama has failed to solve our “education crisis.” But to all appearances, if we actually have such a crisis, we have been involved in that crisis for at least the past fifty years.
It’s somewhat like what Collins said: “By the best national assessment we have available, it appears that the math skills of American fourth- and eighth-graders have been going up slowly but steadily for decades. Reading scores are also a tad better.”
In that passage, Collins was plainly referring to the NAEP, the federally-administered testing program which is universally praised as the gold standard of educational testing. She tossed off a fleeting assessment of what the NAEP data seem to show.
She then moved on to the thing she loves most—additional snark about Romney.
But wait a minute! Piddle and bullshit and snark to the side, is it actually true? Have math skills been “going up steadily for decades?” Perhaps for fifty years? And if that’s true, isn’t it possible that skills have gone up a great deal during that period?
As we noted yesterday, a great many of Collins’ readers completely failed to ingest that passage, which Collins herself hurried past. In comments, they wrote hackneyed accounts about the way our schools have just kept getting worse. (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/30/12.)
In those comments, we get to gaze at the low IQ of the emerging liberal world. But while you’re at it, do something else: Be sure to note the uncaring world of our modern press elite.
We’ve said it here for years, though we might as well talk to the man in the moon: Everyone vouches for the NAEP, but no one discusses its data! In fact, it appears that math skills have gone up a huge amount on the NAEP. It appears that reading skills have gone up a good deal too, though not as much as math.
In our view, Collins substantially understates what the NAEP data seem to show. But plainly, a boring matter like that is not her real concern. Her real mission involves jokes and snark and that poor abused dog, about whom she has been inventing facts for five years.
We’re sorry, but the truth is plain, though your lizard brain won’t let you see it: The high lady Collins cares about dogs. But not about low-income kids!
In fairness to Collins, the New York Times has never explored those NAEP scores in its reporting. Neither has the Washington Post; Darlings, such things just aren’t done! Meanwhile, have you ever a seen a “liberal journal” or a “liberal news channel” attempt to report what those test scores show?
No, you haven’t ever seen that—and it seems you never will!
Everyone vouches for the NAEP—but in the pseudo-liberal world, no one ever dirties his hands explaining its data! Have you ever seen Lawrence O’Donnell stoop to this task? Instead, O’Donnell buys the good feeling of pseudo-liberals by raising funds to buy desks for African kids. In response, we weep and praise his greatness and show what fools we be.
What fools—and how uncaring.
Plainly, Collins cares about dogs. But she doesn’t care about low-income kids. We were struck by that fact when she finally pretended to explain Romney’s proposals.
Needless to say, her “explanations” were brief. By the time she finished her Opening Apology, her jokes and her snark, we would say that she devoted 327 words, tops, to the Romney proposals. (We’re omitting the paragraph where she misleads her reader about the way Romney kept saying “bold.”) Basically, here’s what she said:
COLLINS: But about school reform. Three big ideas: First, Romney is going to make the states provide “ample school choice.” Unless we’re talking, mushily, about vouchers, this one sounded exactly like the Bush law that allows parents whose children are in failing schools to move them elsewhere. It hasn’t really worked well. It turns out the parents wanted their local school to be better, not to ship their children out of the neighborhood. The magic of the marketplace works great for iPods, but not apparently for fourth graders.For ourselves, we weren’t exactly blown away by Romney’s proposals. Beyond that, we think Romney is a horrible candidate—the worst we’ve ever seen nominated.
Second, Romney wants the schools to have “report cards” on student performance so parents can make good decisions about choice. The only problems with this plan are: A) The parents don’t want that kind of choice; and B) the schools already have report cards.
Finally, he vowed to encourage teacher evaluation and accountability. This is something the Obama administration has been doing through its Race to the Top initiatives, much to the dismay of some teachers’ unions.
Romney then concluded with a long attack on Obama for being in the pocket of teachers’ unions.
Happy Memorial Day.
But we thought that passage was deeply uncaring—quite typically unfeeling and cruel.
Collins, of course, rushes through her remarks about the Romney proposals. Regarding the matter of “ample school choice,” did Romney’s proposal really “sound exactly like the Bush law that allows parents whose children are in failing schools to move them elsewhere?” On the op-ed page of yesterday’s New York Times, someone who actually read the proposal expressed a quite different view. He noted that the proposal would, for the first time, allow urban kids to attend schools outside their own school district—schools out in the suburbs.
(To see liberal icon Richard Kahlenberg praise this writer’s book on this general topic, go ahead—just click here.)
Urban kids could go to suburban schools! This may not seem like much to Collins. But then, she cares about dogs.
In our view, it’s easy for a person like Collins to sneer at this provision, blithely saying that parents don’t want “to ship their children out of the neighborhood.” But some urban parents would leap at that chance—and for some kids, it could be a godsend.
Transparently, Collins doesn’t care about such parents or kids. It simply doesn’t enter her head to imagine these actual children. She’s too busy weeping, and making up facts, about Mitt Romney’s dog.
We had a similar reaction to what Collins said about school report cards. No, this isn’t a huge proposal. But in all honesty, Romney didn’t say that he “wants the schools to have ‘report cards’ on student performance so parents can make good decisions about choice.” Here’s what he actually said in his speech—not that an uncaring slacker like Collin would be likely to notice the difference:
ROMNEY (5/23/12): Parental choice will hold schools responsible for results, but parents can only exercise that choice effectively if they have good information. No Child Left Behind helped our nation take a giant step forward in bridging this information gap. But the law is not without its weaknesses. As president, I will break the political logjam that has prevented successful reform of the law. I will reduce federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to ensure that schools are held responsible for results.For decades, Collins has pretended to do journalism in New York, a state which publishes school report cards which are extremely "cryptic." We'll guess she doesn't know this. For ourselves, we have often gnashed our teeth over those New York State report cards. Since some other states publish report cards which are quite clear, we’ve often wondered if New York’s cards were deliberately crafted to be hard for parents to follow.
For example, parents shouldn't have to navigate a cryptic evaluation system to figure out how their kids' schools are performing. States must provide a simple-to-read and widely available public report card that evaluates each school. These report cards will provide accurate and easy-to-understand information about student and school performance. States will continue to design their own standards and tests, but the report cards will provide information that parents can use to make informed choices.
Collins has never had that experience. As her past work plainly suggests, she has possibly never tried to use those report cards. She just flat-out doesn’t care.
For our money, Romney’s proposals are quite underwhelming—but Collins’ column was massively worse. We don’t know when we’ve seen a person who seemed to care so little about low-income kids, or about anything else you can name.
But people! So what?
In the comments to her column, “liberal” readers thanked her, as always, for the wonderful jokes about Mitt Romney’s dog. And they showed how little they know, or actually care, about low-income students or schools.
Tomorrow: MSNBC fakes it on class size