The Silence of the Lame

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Dan Lips on the mainstream media and the head start evaluation. Money quote:

When a Congressionally-mandated study released in 2008 found that President Bush’s favorite reading program was a failure, it was national news.  An article by Greg Toppo in the USA Today blared the headline “Study: Bush’s Reading First Program Ineffective” and reported that the results could be a “knockout punch” for the program.  Similar articles appeared in the New York Times (by Sam Dillon) and Washington Post (by Maria Glod).

But when a similarly devastating report was published last week that undercuts a pillar of President Obama’s education plans, none of these papers has bothered to report it.   As we have reported, the Department of Health and Human Services finally released the results of a national evaluation of the Head Start program that Congress mandated in the late 1990s.

4 Responses to The Silence of the Lame

  1. Also worth noting that most of the articles on Reading First misinterpreted the study.

  2. rse says:


    Don’t you think that misinterpretation was deliberate?

    Many educators seem to prefer a vague “best practices” that enables anything to the idea that certain preferred instructional practices are NOT “scientifically based” and therefore not to be paid for with federal money.

    It is interesting that the comments to the final RttT rules refused to require even the weaker “evidence based” standard for STEM programs.

    Outside of RTI the feds really seem to be moving away from any requirement to show efficacy in instruction.

  3. A more significant question is why the hundreds of local reporters charged with covering education don’t touch these issues. Sure, the Toppos and Mathews and whoever-elses have much larger readerships in USA Today and the Washington Post – we’d like to see them cover everything, all the time, immediately – but such coverage is by default a distant reality to the 99%+ of the country.

    I want to read about the issue with reaction quotes from a Head Start director from Oneonta; I want a a local ed reformer to weigh in, too. I want to hear how the fiscal impact of Head Start is different from Utica to Binghamton. I want NY-24’s Representative Michael Arcuri to address it – and then I want Richard Hanna, his strongest challenger for Fall, 2010, to react as well.

    This is what I don’t see – and the significance of these constant omissions on the local level is greater than where an issue appears in the Glod-Dillon-Toppo-Mathews column queue.

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