Friday, July 08, 2016

When Chalkbeat Needs an "Expert," They Consult Students First NY

I am consistently amazed at what Chalkbeat regards as expert advice. Evidently, if you have enough cash to start an astroturf group, or if Bill Gates gives it to you, that's good enough for them. I found this tidbit in my email today, courtesy of Chalkbeat:

COLLEGE READY? City officials are hoping to ensure at least two-thirds of its graduates are "college ready" but experts disagree about how exactly readiness should be measured.

Wow. Who are they gonna ask? Aaron Pallas? Longtime principal Carol Burris? Ravitch herself? Here's the very first "expert" opinion Chalkbeat offers:

...StudentsFirstNY, in a report released last week, argues the city should include in its calculation students who don’t make it to graduation, which would knock the citywide rate down to just over one third.

Now that's very interesting. It's particularly interesting because I'm always reading about these amazing charter schools at which 100% of their grads go to four-year colleges. Incredible right? But what these stories don't say, ever, is precisely which percentage of the students who started these schools didn't finish. (That includes the ever-popular Dr. Steve Perry. I don't like to brag, but he recently banned me on Twitter because I retweeted something critical of him. How dare I?)
 I mean, if you start out with 100 kids, and 50 don't graduate your high school, doesn't that mean that half weren't college ready even if the other half ended up in 4-year colleges?

But I don't read these stories on Chalkbeat. I generally see them on Gary Rubinstein's blog. You see, while Gary is a full-time teacher at Stuyvesant and a father of small children, when he gets a story he doesn't just go to Students First NY and ask what they think about it.  He does research,  crunches the numbers, writes graphs and charts to make them accessible to folks like me who wouldn't understand otherwise, and presents a picture we wouldn't have otherwise.

Now in fairness, Chalkbeat also went to "Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a nonpartisan center based at New York University." 30 seconds of research revealed they were funded by Gates and Walmart. So you get both sides of the story at Chalkbeat. Reformy Students First NY, and a Gates funded entity that Chalkbeat calls "nonpartisan." We should take their word, right? (The fact that they didn't bother to label Students First as partisan should count for nothing, I suppose.) They also ask someone from Gates-funded "Achieve." So if you want a real spectrum of Gates-funded views, Chalkbeat is your go-to.

Also in fairness, they do acknowledge another view:

Yet some critics argue that test scores are not the best way to judge whether students are ready for college. Studies show that a student’s GPA is often a better predictor of success in college than his or her SAT scores, for example, though GPA isn’t standardized across schools.

You see that? "Some critics argue," they say, though they can't be bothered to cite a single one. And though it says "studies show," it doesn't mention who made them, or interview a single person who believes it. But then we resolve this issue.

Meanwhile, groups like StudentsFirstNY believe a metric that counts only graduates, rather than all students who start in ninth grade, artificially inflates the numbers.

Of course you have to not only give the last word to the astroturfers, but also fail again to mention they are partisan. Because journalistic standards. 

Though there are tens of thousands of teachers, though said teachers have a union, Chalkbeat New York could not be bothered asking them. Though Gary Rubinstein actually is an expert, and though he actually does research, they haven't bothered asking him either.

Chalkbeat NY's double standards are showing, and it appears they can't even be bothered to pretend anymore.
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