Bruce Deitrick Price
My answer is, yes. One-thousand times, yes. The subject is in fact painful for me because I was for so many years naïve and trusting toward the media.
My main focus was always on the public schools and formulating the basic information parents needed to improve the schools. I fully believed the media could easily save the public school system. All they had to do was provide the sort of basic information parents and community leaders are hungry for.
The media must report honestly on education. All we needed was a serious article every month or so. In a year, the schools would be saved. But if you look at the archives in your local paper, or any big paper, you will probably find almost nothing on the subject of education. All you'll find are wispy articles about how to prepare your children for the summer slide and similar fluff. But I'm talking about substantive articles explaining the theories and methods designed, this is my conclusion, to stymie children in the classroom.
So I understood why the schools were so full of nonsense. I understood why the socialists and far-left would want things just the way they are. But it wasn't obvious to me why the media would want the same thing.
Here's a simple answer. The people at the top are the same people everywhere you look. The people running the New York Times are the same sort of so-called liberals running, and ruining, education. One group deals in news, so they claim. The other group deals in education, so they claim. Sure they are.
What they're both really dealing in is their quest for more power, more control, more money. They don't want parents getting in the way. Keeping the community uninformed is the key to success. There is a great deal of treachery exhibited here.
A very famous book by Julian Benda, from almost 70 years ago, was titled in English The Treason of the Clerks or The Treason of the Intellectuals. He was talking about editors, publishers, writers, journalists, professors of all kinds, pundits, and opinion makers. These people should have, ideally, a paternalistic and protective attitude toward the public schools. But these professions have been infiltrated by Bolshevik types. That is, covert operators loyal to Moscow. Such people have been sneaking into our foundations, universities, and media for most of the last hundred years. I would argue that our society is much weaker and more corrupt because of this phenomenon.
I think we can make a good case that such people are responsible for the degradation of the fields they enter, and for the lowering of standards throughout society. The problem is that the Communists believe the ends justify the means, so they are entitled to say and do whatever will help their cause.
Notice the casual way that President Biden lied about events at Bagram airbase. No, he had no idea he was probably condemning a thousand people to death. Biden also lied about the submarine deal involving France and Australia. He knew nothing about it. Biden seems to think he's CNN and can tell any whopper he wants and the public won't hold it against him. Americans weren't always so cavalier about truth and reality. What can you get away with, that's the question now. And we are supposed to accept this. I certainly don’t. And I see that his approval rating is dropping steadily because millions of Americans do not accept so much lying.
Academics love to talk about Hitler's big lie when we live in a society where big lies are tossed about every day like confetti at weddings. And the media have sunk so low that they brought in so-called fact checkers, who then add another level of lying. The New York Times has 1000 reporters, give or take, but we're supposed to believe that a nobody in his basement can make a few phone calls and decide whether some assertion is true or false. Now Twitter thinks the same thing and can instantly decide if Trump tells the truth or Fauci tells the truth. But the whole point of a free press is that both sides shout their views and then we the public sort them out, argue back-and-forth, and learn from the discussion. Education in the US is now debased to an adolescent level. That's because the media discourage discussion and knowledge.
I find myself worrying about the future of scholarship. Why go to college to learn how to do research if in fact, the New York Times is changing reality every week? Can you imagine grad students in the future doing their dissertations and looking in the library at old versions of the New York Times and it turns that there are different positions on every major issue.
Media, meretricious, and mendacious have never seemed so perfectly aligned.
I read a funny article by the Pulitzer organization called “Why do so many Americans distrust the media?" Pulitzer knows exactly why, because media lie all the time. Now if we go into politics to settle that assertion, we’ll be here all year. Most of the political disputes are murky beyond hope, except perhaps for the one about photo ID’s. The Left manages to claim that's a racial issue. Which shows the perverse desperation of the Democrats. Even they don't believe this stupid claim.
That's why studying education is so gratifying. You encounter lots of debates that if you look at them for five minutes, you know which side is lying. The Education Establishment’s own research over the last hundred years confirmed unanimously that phonics is necessary for teaching children to read. But the public schools go right on pushing sight-words. So we have one of the great crimes in history and 50 million functional illiterates to prove it. Bogus reading instruction is the paradigm of educational nonsense but there are dozens of similar slums, intellectually speaking.
I want to offer two ways of getting a quick look inside most of these issues. Perhaps the most ingenious would be to look at the table of contents of a book called Why Johnny Still Can't Read, 1981, by Rudolf Flesch, the great educator. The book is organized around what Flesch calls the The 10 Alibis, which I would call The Ten Lies. (You can obtain a copy cheaply from Amazon.) The biggest lie is, we teach phonics. The truth is they don't teach phonics if they can get away with it. When parents complain about this, the school officials are trained to say, oh, we do teach phonics. Savor that. It's what we are up against throughout our society.
My own book Saving K-12, 180 pages, covers all the different subjects at all levels. You can read it in any order so you can start with the subjects you are most ignorant about and skip the others.
Finally, Western civilization was built on the notion that there is such a thing as truth. If there are two assertions, probably one is more truthful than the other. The point is we have to keep looking for the truth. The schools will tell only their twisted versions of the truth. The media will tell you their desiccated versions of the truth. So we all have a lot of work to do.
These days, we are all like Diogenes searching for an honest media.
NB: I started a Space on Quora called Education Q&A for parents and people working in education. Serious content for serious people.© Bruce Deitrick Price
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