Saturday, October 1, 2011

Journalism Please!

Letter to the Editor to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that was ignored.

"The competition that charter schools create for traditional public school systems is good and should help to improve educational quality, according to state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis."

There is not a shred of educational, economic, or social science research to support Tomalis' claim that competition between charter schools and traditional public schools improves educational quality. However, there is a significant amount of research that essentially suggests that Tomalis has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and is really just peddling propaganda.

There is a time to point out the things our public officials say when they are untrue. I have done this consistently over the years. However, it might be nice if just once, the "press" actually did their job and stopped telling us what officials have said and actually challenged our officials on the stupid things they say. As an example, the quote above comes from a "story" (Education chief: Variety is important) that is nothing more than a PR piece for the Corbett administration's plans to dismantle the public school system. The entire article is devoted to informing the public what Tomalis is saying. Not once does the Post Gazette actually challenge Tomalis.

Examples: "The secretary said charter schools are becoming such a popular choice that if all of the students were in one district, it would be the second-largest in the state." He said school districts should create more innovative programs to keep or bring back students. That's competition. That's exactly the way you want it to work...."

And interviewing Thomas Gentzel, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, does not help because he opposes Tomalis. Gentzel might be pitching his own propaganda. We in the public don't need to know what the Hatfields and the McCoys are saying. We need to know who's statements are supported by research and empirical evidence—we need journalism.

1 comment:

  1. Require charter schools to take students on a first come first serve basis like the public schools. After all they are using the same tax payer money. Why discriminate against students whose parents can't attend multiple meetings and jump through hoops to enroll their kids in school.