Dumb Headline Conceals Smart Story

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

A fascinating and revealing NYT story on the impact of charter schools in Harlem is well worth reading despite the utterly absurd headline: School Choice Is No Cure-All, Harlem Finds.

So apparently the straw-man argument generator in the headline writer’s head told him or her that a few charter schools would cure all of Harlem’s problems. I doubt that anyone else did.

Reading the actual story leads one to the conclusion that while there have been difficulties and growing pains, Harlem’s experience with charter schools has been quite positive. The most serious problem pointed to in the article, in fact, is the need for more charter schools.

The NYT story deals with perceived difficulties in school grading. So A-F school grades and parental choice: sounds familiar. How has this been working out for NYC’s low-income Black students? Some day reporters will learn to use the NAEP Data Explorer and use actual evidence to sort through contending clouds of anecdotal fog, but in the meantime I can help out:

Did the Klein reforms cure all of the education problems of Harlem? Certainly not. They strangely also failed to cure cancer, restore sight to the blind nor did they erase the painful memories of having shelled out money to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls.

They have however seen hard fought gains for disadvantaged students. Rather than wringing their hands, the New York Times should be calling for the logical next steps in reform.

5 Responses to Dumb Headline Conceals Smart Story

  1. […] W. Bush Institute’s Matthew Ladner, noting how a recent article on charter schools (and data on the success of New York City’s school […]

  2. I saw “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls” at the Alamo House in Austin in Hecklevision (TM). Let me tell you that with the benefit of Hecklevision (TM) that ticket was worth every penny I paid.

  3. Matthew Ladner says:

    We need to create EduHecklevision (TM) for bad education stories and/or headlines.

  4. Mike G says:

    Any way to persuade NAEP folks to release Harlem-only scores?

  5. Matthew Ladner says:

    I’m sure someone can get NAEP to do custom datasets, but it is not me. Also disappointingly the 2011 TUDA does not have charter school only figures for NYC.

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