Monday, January 11, 2010

Apathy Rules

I wish I were an editorial page writer for a city tabloid. I wouldn't have to reflect, or consider all the issues. I could simply think, "Union bad, status quo good," and proceed without giving any time to reality, which is admittedly troubling. The Daily News editorial yesterday pretty much says it all, vilifying union and glorifying charters. In the interests of being "fair and balanced," it points us to an anti-union, pro-charter op-ed.

I'm reminded of the few times I tried to watch Fox News. Once, when we were headed to Iraq, they balanced the viewpoint of a Republican Senator with that of ex-Republican Senator Fred Thompson. Another time, when Hillary Clinton was running against Rick Lazio, they balanced the viewpoint of a Republican Congressman who supported Lazio with that of Floyd Flake, a Democratic Congressman who supported Lazio.

Though our fair and balanced President, Barack Obama, didn't bother to suggest this when he was running, he now wants to drop the cap on charters. Charters can sometimes do better than public schools. Why they don't always do so is a mystery to me. After all, charter students have 100% proactive parents, and proactive parents are the no. 1 factor in student success. And when you drain the children of proactive parents from public schools, you demean them by just that much.

Another thing the News wants is for teachers to be judged on the test scores of their students. The fact that they'd be higher if we weren't moving our best prospects into charters does not even merit a mention. As usual, everything is the fault of unionized employees, and no one who controls the schools bears any responsibility whatsoever.

I could write this stuff myself. I'm amazed, though, that such superficial, unexamined, and unpersuasive stuff is so pervasive. The sad thing, for many Americans, is there's little or no exposure to the other side. You get an op-ed here and there, but nothing resembling the relentless drum beat that every newspaper editorial board, including the so-called liberal New York Times, feeds America on a fairly regular basis.

New York is a macrocosm for the rest of the country, where few know that President Obama never said he'd insist on lifting the charter cap. Not only that, but our new President has reneged on his promise to marginally diminish the party the uber-rich have been enjoying since the 80s, and has instead decided to fund his wimpy health plan on the backs of middle-class and unionized employees.

A very smart blogger with whom I'm friendly tells me that the lack of a public option will mean she will soldier on without health insurance, despite the 40% tax the President will be levying on programs that provide decent coverage. It's sad that you don't see that in the papers. But politicians like Bloomberg and Obama wouldn't be able to function in an environment where everyone actually knew what was going on.

It's going to be tough to wake up the public, but we can't stop trying.
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