May 5, 2015

John Oliver Knows Better Than You! Charlie Barone Probably Does! Lawrence MA, Charter Waits, And More

By Bellwether

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The idea of a center-to-left coalition focused on broad-based education reform has captivated reformers, including me, like a mirage in the desert. Today Charlie Barone writes about the potential in RealClearEducation.

A lot of people chattering about this John Oliver segment on standardized testing. My take: Yawn. I doubt that too many viewers of that show are really wide open on many issues, seems like a place where people with strong priors go to have them confirmed. But I might be too cynical. Substantively, I guess I’d rather stand with these guys than a TV comedian on an issue that matters to millions of youngsters – especially the most disadvantaged youngsters. But here’s a thought exercise: During this past winter could John Oliver have done the same segment – the same modality –  but about global warming instead of testing? Yes, he could. Think Oliver in a park during a snowfall ridiculing those thinking the earth is getting warmer. They’re ridiculous because anyone can see it’s snowing! Look at me, I’m up to my waist in snow here in Boston and these fools say things are getting warmer! (Imagine the accent and some funny pictures).  Of course, never mind the body of research about warming and the views of actual experts who study it, he knows better. Here, it’s the same thing on education except the stance on testing is just more politically correct. The story was amusing as an entertainment vehicle but you’ll look in vain for a tether to the actual evidence base around these issues. He just knows better. In other words, just because something has some salty language delivered with a British accent and a blowjob joke sprinkled in doesn’t mean it’s still not herd mentality political correctness rather than actual analysis or subversiveness.

ERS takes a look at Lawrence, MA.

You can quibble with various methodologies for computing the number of families on charter school waiting lists but no matter how you add it up there are a lot of families that want something different.

Ross Douthat on police unions. Almost a mirror image of the teachers union debate on the left.

My U.S. News & World Report column this week – on ESEA – will run end of week in a new USN product.

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