Monday, December 29, 2014

MSNBC, CNN, Fox News Ignore Career Educators in their Public Education Coverage

It doesn’t matter whether it is MSNBC, CNN, or Fox News; each one of these cable news channels have proven through their education reporting during the past year that they aren’t in the least interested in getting all sides of the education story. The evidence of this is a Media Matters report that came out in November that found that “Only 9 Percent of Guests Discussing Education on Evening Cable News Were Educators.” (Also see Diane Ravitch’s summary of this report here.) In other words, all our cable news companies failed, for the most part, to involve those of us in the schools and classrooms in their discussions and coverage of educational issues. The question then becomes: Why do cable news companies refuse, either deliberately or inadevertently, to include educators in their discussions about educational issues? By practically ignoring educators in their education discussion, MSNBC, CNN, and Fox are guilty of engaging in a complete dismissal of an entire group of professionals who certainly have a great deal to add to these education policy discussions. They are also guilty of not getting all sides of the issues, which I thought was what impartial news reporting was about.

I would like to think that it is not deliberate, and that there are no ideological reasons for this. Perhaps because the pundits and reporters have all supposedly had an education, they see themselves as experts and that there is no need to bring in educators, but this ignoring of those who experience the things they discuss every day is puzzling. It is the teacher or principal who can really describe what current education policy has done to our schools, classrooms, and kids. For example, it’s the educators at the school and classroom level who can attest to what Race to the Top has done to education. Some of the effects of President Obama’s education agenda include the following:
  • We test our kids more than we ever have before.
  • As a result of these tests, we are transforming our schools into “test-prep” machines.
  • We are standardizing learning for all students, when research and our experience screams to us that we should be personalizing, nor standardizing.
  • Our schools have become more interested in credentialing students than providing them with worthwhile, life-changing learning experiences. (Which is a direct result on focusing on a statistic, like the graduation rate.)
  • We now judge teacher and principal effectiveness by test scores, as if those scores can infallibly tell anything about how each are doing their jobs.
There has to be some reason why educators are being excluded from the education discussions on cable news channels. In the meantime, it might be more important for those of us who are educators to simply dismiss what MSNBC, CNN or Fox have to say on the subject, because they certainly aren’t getting the full story. We also need to work harder to get our stories out there as well, because we no longer have news networks interested in making sure all sides of these educational issues are reported. I just have to remind myself that cable news is more about entertainment anyway rather than trying to actually inform anyone of anything, so why would I even think they might be interested in getting all sides to a story anyway.

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