Admittedly, the last couple of weeks have had a lot of newsworthy events (or at least spectacular ones). Still, the absence of liberal/progressive attention to the recent NAEP student performance results is truly odd, as Bob Somerby describes (boldface mine):
The rapidly devolving Salon staged the usual gong show. We find no sign that anyone did any original reporting or commentary about the new NAEP report. That said, Salon did run the AP report on this topic—the report which drives the corporate line that our schools are doing quite poorly.
Increasingly, Salon is an intellectual disaster—an obvious liberal embarrassment. That said, no one else in the liberal world showed much interest in this topic, with the exception of Kevin Drum.
At Mother Jones, Drum did two posts about the new NAEP report. We find no sign that anyone else at Mother Jones mentioned the topic.
Beyond that, the silence was general across the liberal world.
We find no sign that anyone mentioned the new report at the New Republic or the Washington Monthly. We find no sign that the report was mentioned at The Nation.
We find no sign that the new report was mentioned by the Center for American Progress. We find no sign that the American Prospect mentioned the new report.
(We used two search terms, “NAEP” and “National Assessment,” in our fruitless attempt to find liberal interest in the new report.)
How about the nation’s new smart set of technocratic analysts? We find no sign that any of the kids at Wonkblog bothered themselves with this new report. We find no sign that anyone mentioned it at the Atlantic.
In fact, this misperception was so widely held that several years ago, the only prominent bloggers (and print commentators too) that were making this point were Kevin Drum, Bob Somerby, and yours truly. And the only reason I consider including myself on the ‘prominent’ list is because there was no one else making this point; I win by default. If there were others, they were so few and far between that I, not being a professional education expert, never encountered them.
While there are still problems with our educational system, the massive gains over the last forty years–which predate ‘educational reform’–should be considered evidence of a highly successful public program. Not perfect by a long shot, but still pretty good. Instead, progressives either ignore the good news (and thereby don’t do themselves any favors) or misinterpret the data and attack the very programs they should be supporting.
As Somerby notes, this isn’t helping children.