Charleston P&C: How Media Fails Education

The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC) has a long history of endorsing every education reform movement that doesn’t have any credibility:

Teach for America? Sure.

Charter schools? You bet.

So it comes as no surprise that the P&C has penned an endorsement of SC’s move to reform teacher evaluation, by framing the issue as something teachers “fear”:

The prospect of changing the way teachers are evaluated is not popular with many educators who fear a protocol that works in an “excellent” school won’t work in one that is “at risk.”…

It is also a time for them to face their fears and keep an open mind.

Would it were that journalists actually sought out evidence and experts in education…but, alas, no. (By the way, the evidence is overwhelming that teacher evaluations and pay linked to test scores is a failed enterprise.)

And on the heels of that dandy unsigned editorial, the P&C has run an Op-Ed endorsing standardized testing and another unsigned editorial endorsing letter grades for schools.

I guess when your journalism tactic is to ignore evidence the next best method is volume.

Since it is unlikely that my letter to the paper and email to two editors at the P&C will ever see the light of day from their end, let me share here my responses:

[Letter: Posted August 6, 2013, at the P&C]

The recent P&C editorial on teacher evaluation reform and the Op-Ed on standardized testing by Norman R. Augustine represent the misleading and irresponsible roles that the media and political leadership are playing in terms of public education. To frame the teacher evaluation plan in SC as something educators “fear” continues to scapegoat teachers while aiding political leaders who are pushing education agendas that detract from real and needed reform. Similarly, Mr. Augustine’s simplistic support for standardized testing ignores three decades of evidence that test-based accountability has failed schools, hurt students, and eroded U.S. International comparisons. Expanding the accountability movement based on standards and testing is a fool’s errand that ignores credible evidence and serves the profits of only the bloated testing industry. In SC, public schools and tax revenue are precious commodities that the media and political leadership seem willing to treat as Monopoly money in a casino.

[email to editors: Mitch Pugh – Executive Editor – mpugh; Rick Nelson – Managing Editor – rnelson]

Mitch and Rick (if I may):

Re: the recent unsigned editorial

I have sent a number of Op-Ed submissions to the P&C, with virtually all of them not acknowledged (the P&C did publish one piece of mine on Teach for America), but I continue to be deeply concerned about the failed education policy in SC, my home state.

I have been an educator in SC for 30 years—18 teaching public high school and 12 currently at Furman.

The commentary on teacher evaluations is deeply flawed, primarily due to its framing the legislation as something teachers “fear” and due to the continued resistance to acknowledge the research base on such plans.

Here is a well-documented examination of the plan:

The teacher evaluation and Common Core movements in SC are piling on more of a failed accountability movement. The media should be serving the public good, not perpetuating political folly.

The P&C, like The State and The Greenville News, could be beacons of reason in our state, but it appears for the P&C that such foundational elements of journalism are no longer honored.

It is the duty of journalism to conduct research and make that evidence accessible to the larger public.

The above noted editorial fails on that count.

A few national journalists are beginning to acknowledge that educators and researchers are offering evidence- and experience-based arguments (not expressing “fear” or avoiding accountability), and that so-called education reform leaders are themselves lacking credibility. Michelle Rhee and Tony Bennett personify the failures of both text-based teacher evaluation and letter grades for schools, for example.

I am begging the P&C to reconsider how education is examined; it can and must do better for the good of Charleston, the state, and the families and children trapped in poverty.


  1. Wow, how did I stumble upon this moronic view? Dude, take your tea party suburban, sub-par teaching self out of education reform.


  1. […] endorsing the worst possible policies for SC public schools, such as merit pay and VAM as well as TFA, charter schools, and misguided teacher evaluations), […]

  2. […] the media for its role in the failures of the current education reform movement—such as PBS, The Charleston Post and Courier, and Education Week—I must also recognize when a media outlet provides much needed insight into […]

  3. […] via Charleston P&C: How Media Fails Education – SCHOOLS MATTER @ THE CHALK FACE. […]

  4. […] via Charleston P&C: How Media Fails Education. […]

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