I hope that the nominations for dumbest wire service item of the year are still open, because the December 20 report by Associated Press Education Writer Jay Pope on the alleged negative impact of a successful college football team on the grades of male students on campus must be placed in the running.
Based on an eight-year study of grades by economists at just one school, the University of Oregon, who are either getting grant money they don't deserve or have totally run out of productive things to do, a three-win improvement by a football team can increase the differential between male and female students' grade-point averages by as much as 0.0144 points. Seriously. Pope never disclosed the degree of difference I just cited, and wasted almost 900 words on a story which should never have been written. What follows is some of the AP writer's vapid verbiage:
In February, yours truly sensed a misstatement of reality on the part of Associated Press reporter Scott Bauer in his description of the budget repair law the Wisconsin Legislature was then considering. At the beginning of his report, Bauer wrote that the law would "end a half-century of collectively bargaining," but later wrote that "unions could still represent workers" (That doesn't exactly signal an "end," does it?). In several other subsequent reports (examples here and here), Bauer insisted on incorrectly describing the law as "ending" or "eliminating" collective bargaining. It does neither.
Tonight, in reporting on the progress of the Badger State effort to recall Republican Governor Scott Walker, Bauer slightly rephrased his false claim, glossed over the current controversy over validation of petitioners' names and registration status, again contradicted himself, and made little effort at hiding his overt partisanship (bolds are mine throughout this post):
Apparently, Newt Gingrich wanting to employ students from poor neighborhoods and teach them job skills means that he believes they possess "no work habits." CNN obliged to put words in the candidate's mouth during Friday's 1 p.m. news hour as its headlines slammed Gingrich's "controversial" statements.
Anchor T.J. Holmes admitted that the candidate "tends to say some pretty edgy things every now and again," and CNN headlines blared that Gingrich's "controversial" talk "could become a campaign liability," and that his statement "targets children in 'poor neighborhoods'." [Video below the break. Click here for audio.]
On Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams fretted over comments made by Newt Gingrich about providing school jobs for inner-city students: "The Newt Gingrich that a lot of folks will remember from his speakership days back in the '90s was back on display making statements about controversial issues that left some of his critics slack-jawed."
In an interview with the former Speaker aired on Thursday's ABC World News, chief White House correspondent Jake Tapper similarly cautioned: "And then the other concern has to do with your propensity to make outrageous, interesting, however – whatever adjective you'd like to assign – remarks, the most recent one about child labor laws, for example, being stupid."
A story generating a lot of discussion today concerns how former Philadelphia Schools Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, who is receiving $905,000 in severance, has applied for unemployment benefits, and has been promised that the school district will not contest her claim.
Not so fast, people. I searched Google and Google News briefly, and found an interesting aspect of the situation which no one in the media apparently wants to consider. It relates to how Ackerman's employment ended. One of many place where that ending is described came from Matt Petrillo at Philadelphia Weekly just three weeks ago. It began thusly: "It’s been 11 weeks since the School Reform Commission unanimously voted to fire public school boss lady Arlene Ackerman." A quick visit to the relevant page at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry would appear to indicate that Ackerman should not get unemployment benefits, and that it shouldn't matter whether the district contests her claim:
At the top of Thursday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams scolded Congress for opposing new Obama administration regulations on school lunches: "And out to lunch. Does pizza really look like a vegetable to anybody? The better question may be what does Congress have against healthier lunches for kids?"
Correspondent Anne Thompson later began a report on the supposed controversy by showing images of pizza and sarcastically remarking: "Look at this picture. What do you see? In this week's Washington Rorschach test, Congress sees a vegetable." She lamented: "...this week Congress rejected the Department of Agriculture's attempt to make school lunches healthier."
During a panel discussion on Wednesday's NBC Today, all of the pundits agreed that it was perfectly acceptable for a school in California to let former porn star Sasha Grey read to a classroom of first graders. Advertising executive Donny Deutsch went so far as to admonish critics: "Shame on people, she's volunteering for underprivileged kids." [Audio available here]
NBC medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman also praised Grey's volunteerism and added that the whole controversy was just "craziness." Attorney Star Jones concluded: "Anytime somebody wants to go into a school and help out a child, we need to let them."
Perhaps partially explaining the treatment of Ohio's ballot issues on shows like MSNBC's "Morning Joe" as noted by Noel Sheppard at NewsBusters earlier today, I have found that the Associated Press predictably trumpeted the 61%-39% rejection of Issue 2, which would have required cost-sharing for public-sector employee health and pension benefits while curbing the scope of collective bargaining, as a big national story. Meanwhile, as far as I can tell, the AP only devoted six snarky paragraphs in a regionally carried story to Issue 3, which won by a 66%-34% margin and passed by comfortable majorities in all 88 Buckeye State counties. Also known as the Ohio Healthcare Freedom Amendment, Issue 3 put prohibitions of Obamacare's mandates to buy health insurance and participate in a health care plan into Ohio's constitution.
First, excerpts from the Issue 2 story by the wire service's Sam Hananel out of, ahem, Washington:
A religious exemption in anti-bullying legislation that's meant to prevent students and teachers from being punished for simply expressing their religious beliefs about homosexuality is a "license to bully" in the eyes of MSNBC.
Openly-gay anchor Thomas Roberts brought on Michigan state senator Gretchen Whitmer (D) to bash the Republican-controlled state senate for passing SB 0137, "Matt's Safe School Law," on to the state house of representatives containing a clause that holds that the law "does not prohibit a statement of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian."
Here we go again. A Christian college is revising its code of conduct for faculty members, expecting a commitment to personal conduct that's in line with biblical ethics, including on matters of sexual behavior.
But, of course, all the liberal media will focus on is a new "ban" on gay or lesbian faculty members at Shorter University, a Baptist institution with campuses in Atlanta and Rome, Georgia.
In the grand scheme of things, student loans from the government are at least well intentioned. Perhaps they even encourage students who would not otherwise attend college to do so. However, with President Obama's latest expansion of the student loan program, we are again reminded whether he is unable to learn from history or is completely indifferent to the government waste incurred by student loan programs.
Obama announced last week a plan to ease the burden of student loans by only requiring graduates to pay a maximum of 10% of their income toward their monthly federal loan payments. However, as Rep. John Kline explained, "We simply can’t keep providing money from the federal government in the form of subsidized or actual loans and Pell Grants when we don’t have the money." Do you think easing student loan payments is just another way for Obama to ensure he still has the youth vote to back him in 2012? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Associated Press reporter Christina Hoag drew special praise for "fair coverage" from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) for a story on bullying. "Fair coverage" in GLAAD-speak is completely one-sided "news" with no space for conservative points of view.
"Kids, even as young as middle school age, feel more emboldened to openly express their sexual or gender orientation," Hoag wrote, "but many are not prepared for a possible backlash, gay-rights advocates say." The voices of "backlash" are too evil to quote, apparently. The 1100-word story was slanted enough to be posted on the leftist website Salon. These were the six people Hoag quoted for AP, as she described them:
At the Associated Press today, National Writer Jesse Washington attempted to dissect the relative dearth of college degrees earned by African-Americans in "STEM" (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Not that anything he reported was particularly wrong, but in my view he missed the largest contributor to the problem, one that apparently can't be mentioned in polite press company. He used one word -- "uneducated" -- that started to get close but backed away. The five-word phrase he failed to mention, which could usefully carry the acronym "LUPUS":
The rising cost of college has put a damper on many students' educational plans, but in an effort to continue attracting students, many schools have begun turning their campuses into miniature resorts. From upscale dining facilities to rock climbing walls, it turns out that some of the costs of college have nothing to do with learning, and much of the bill is still left for the taxpayers to foot.
Check out a video of Andrew S. Rosen, author of Change.edu, explaining the costs of college after the break, and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
...Each player's salary is based on how long he's been in the league. It's about tenure, not talent. The same scale is used for every player, no matter whether he's an All-Pro quarterback or the last man on the roster. For every year a player's been in this NFL, he gets a bump in pay. The only difference between Tom Brady and the worst player in the league is a few years of step increases. And if a player makes it through his third season, he can never be cut from the roster until he chooses to retire, except in the most extreme cases of misconduct.
What do you think of Tarkenton's comparison? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
On Friday's Early Show, CBS's Erica Hill advocated for a liberal pet cause, urging Michele Bachmann to allow children of illegal aliens to receive in-state college tuition. Hill also spotlighted Gov. Rick Perry's attack on his competitors in the GOP presidential race on this issue: "Basically, [Perry is] saying to the other eight folks on the stage there, including yourself, that you don't have a heart."
The anchor raised the immigration issue towards the end of her interview of the Minnesota representative. Hill first quoted Gov. Perry's line on the in-state tuition issue from the previous night's debate: "He said, 'If you say we should not educate children who come into our state by no fault of their own, I don't think you have a heart.'" She then made a budget-based appeal to the Republican: "I know you said you don't want any resources to go to illegal aliens or their children. Why not, though, give them a tuition break now, rather then, perhaps, down the line, having to hand over unemployment, or even welfare?"
CBS's Jim Axelrod spotlighted a Michigan high school football team mostly made up of Muslim students on Friday's Early Show and trumpeted the "the strength of this diverse community." An array of student athletes and school officials from Fordson High School in Dearborn, Michigan fought against a phantom of "Islamophobia" that was only vaguely described.
In covering Fordson's custom of holding August practice from midnight to 4 am to be Ramadan-friendly, and despite playing video of students praying in Arabic while in their football uniforms, Axelrod didn't raise the usual ACLU-flagged church-state issues one might find a similar story on devout Christian students upsetting "diversity" in a school setting.
[Video clips from the segment available below the jump.]
If you want to know the best universities and colleges in the country, you might turn to US News. But suppose you want to know the horniest. Well, for that you'd have to consult Newsweek.
Say what you will about the pre-Daily Beast-merger Newsweek -- it was doubtless liberal and strongly slanted to the left -- but it never, to my knowledge, tried to muscle in on Playboy's turf and find the best schools for hands-on anatomical studies.
Washington Post education columnist Valerie Strauss reported Monday that people in the Obama administration made several desperate attempts to lobby actor Matt Damon just before he spoke at last month's "Save Our Schools" rally in Washington D.C., blasting an emphasis on standardized tests and insisting he would never have become a movie star under that kind of education system.
Citing unnamed sources in sensitive spots, Strauss claimed "Duncan was willing to meet Damon at the airport when he flew into the Washington region and talk to him on the drive into the city, according to the sources. Damon declined all of the requests."
ABC Highlights Complaints That 'There is Little Heart' in Rick Perry's Texas
On Saturday's World News on ABC, correspondent Jim Avila filed a report in which he focused mostly on aspects of Texas's economy that receive praise, but he ended up warning that things may not really be as good as they seem, as the ABC correspondent highlighted claims that, "deep in the heart of Rick Perry's Texas, there is little heart."
Sunday, Alexa Olesen at the Associated Press wrote an item headlined "One-child policy a surprising boon for China girls." My immediate comeback: "43-60 million Chinese girls aborted because they were of the 'wrong' gender or would have violated the one-child policy were not available for comment."
While nowhere near as odious as Nick Kristof's "Mao Tse-tung wasn't all that bad; look what he did for Chinese women" conclusion at the end of a book review on Mao's murderous legacy almost six years ago, Olesen gets into the neighborhood.
On Thursday's Early Show, CBS brought on Dr. Logan Levkoff, a radical sexologist, who not only advocated distributing birth control to 11-year-olds during an October 2007 appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, but also wouldn't rule out giving contraceptives out to elementary school students. When anchor Chris Wragge asked if "eleven is too young" for sex education, Levkoff replied, "There's no such thing as being too young."
Wragge and fill-in anchor Rebecca Jarvis turned to the sex educator for her take on a recently-passed New York City law which mandates sex education in schools. Instead of having guests on from both sides of the issue, Levkoff appeared by herself during the segment. Jarvis first asked, "Parents will tell you- or some critics will tell you, parents should be teaching this, right? But why do you think it should be taught in the schools?" The sexologist made her extreme view on teaching sex ed pretty clear in her initial answer: "There's no question that parents should be talking to their kids about sex and sexuality, from the time they're born on....We're talking about anatomy. We're talking about sexual development, healthy choices, responsibility, consent, respect. And these are all, you know, topics that it's never too young to learn about."
Actor Matt Damon is a walking, talking public service reminder to immunize your children early and often against La-La-Land disease.
In Damon's world, all public school teachers are selfless angels. Government workers and Hollywood entertainers are impervious to economic incentives. And anyone who disagrees is a know-nothing, "corporate reformer" ingrate who hates education.
On Friday's Morning Edition, correspondent Ana Tintocalis from NPR affiliate KQED in San Francisco spotlighted several supporters of California's recently-passed requirement for public schools mandating that they include homosexual historical figures in social studies classes. Only one out of the five people interviewed for Tintocalis's report opposed the new mandate.
The journalist began her report by playing two clips from a public school teacher from a "small district near Sacramento," who, despite expressing enthusiasm over the new law, felt "conflicted" over how to implement it: "It seems like we're meeting a quota, and that I don't like." She then turned to Will Grant, a private school teacher who has "led teacher workshops on how to include gay and lesbian history into social studies classes."
Last December, I reported on Harvard University professor Stephan Thernstrom's essay "Minorities in College — Good News, But...," on Minding the Campus, a website sponsored by the New York-based Manhattan Institute. He was commenting on the results of the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress, saying that the scores "mean that black students aged 17 do not read with any greater facility than whites who are four years younger and still in junior high. ... Exactly the same glaring gaps appear in NAEP's tests of basic mathematics skills." Thernstrom asked, "If we put a randomly-selected group of 100 eighth-graders and another of 100 twelfth-graders in a typical college, would we expect the first group to perform as well as the second?" In other words, is it reasonable to expect a college freshman of any race who has the equivalent of an eighth-grade education to compete successfully with those having a 12th-grade education?
Yet in August 2010, the Times was puzzled as to why Atlanta school superintendent Beverly Hall, who is now under suspicion, was still under fire: "Even after an independent investigation recently found that the problem was much less widespread, critics have called for her resignation and attacked the investigation’s credibility."
Want a little wisdom? Given we're a culture that tends to be self-help hungry, odds are that you and I aren't hostile to a little good advice. Who would be?
Well, May and June were months populated by commencement addresses. Some were memorable; some were political; some were self-indulgent. Some need to be reread now that the parties are over, internships are being settled into, vacations are being enjoyed, or the satisfactions of labor are giving way to harsh realities about paychecks, FICA --- and, well, don't ask Paul Ryan how bright that future looks about now.
As the broadcast network evening newscasts filed reports this week on the teacher cheating scandal in Atlanta, Georgia, ABC’s World News on its Wednesday show went furthest in seeming to sympathize with the teachers who cheated as correspondent Steve Osunami highlighted complaints about No Child Left Behind’s emphasis on standardized tests to judge teacher performance.
After recounting details of the cheating scandal, in which as many as 178 teachers and principals in Atlanta erased and changed some of the answers on student tests to improve test score statistics for their schools, Osunsami asserted that "everyone here is pointing the finger at No Child Left Behind," and undermined the complaints of parents angry about the scandal:
In an exclusive interview with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie on Friday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer played a clip of a woman attacking the Republican as hypocritical for sending his children to private school while cutting funding for public schools. Lauer agreed with her premise: "I thought it was a fair question."
Lauer sympathized with the woman and argued: "...what she was asking you was – she clearly sends her kids to public schools and she's saying, 'Governor, I understand you send your kids to private schools, but is it possible, though, then you don't understand how these cuts are going to affect families,' like her's on a daily basis. Why isn't it a fair question?"