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MEDIA: The Jim Cramers Of The Education Press

Last night, Jon Stewart interviewed castigated TV money guy Jim Cramer about the financial press's role in selling economic fantasies to the American public.  It was in many ways an echo of Stewart's famous "You're hurting America" segment on Crossfire, in which he accused Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson of entertaining the public while pretending to inform them. 

What does this have to do with education?  Well, what Stewart was saying reminded me of similar issues with the education press and the commentators who are so frequently quoted in it.  Click below to read all about it.

First off, journalists from the mainstream press are supposed to be objective and disclose anything that might taint their objectivity.  Except, they won't write what they really think -- what happened to their kid's elementary school, or what happened to them in school one day long ago, or what they read in grad school that really shaped their thinking.  Have coffee or a drink with an education reporter and you'll quickly know what he or she really thinks.  But never in print. 

I call bullsh*t on the whole disclosure/ objectivity scam -- and know a lot of reporters who would be glad to be free of it.

The Jim Cramers of the education world aren't much better.  These professional experts have learned to provide sound bites and faux insights to reporters, conveniently leaving out key things such as their own involvement and their own interests, personal and professional (and financial).  They give reporters and readers the impression of candor but -- whether they admit it to themselves or not -- they're usually just advocating for themselves and their issues.  (What's really going on behind the scenes -- ideological turf wars, internal jockeying, money grabbing -- is rarely discussed, since that would endanger their own access.)

Advocacy and pretend insider information are fine, but that's all they are.  And reporters should note "experts'" specific political, ideological, or financial interests on whatever topic is being discussed.  Job title and organizational affiliation doesn't cut it. 


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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in This Week In Education are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.