If you don’t like the message, you might as well muzzle the messenger. Or at least that’s the strategy being employed by the Washington Teachers’ Union this week as it plans to protest The Washington Post for what it describes as slanted coverage of D.C. education reform. Their evidence of bias? The Posts’ corporate ties to Kaplan Inc., the test preparation company. Not surprisingly, the truth is an altogether different story. The Washington Examiner reports:
Union President Nathan Saunders said teachers have been concerned for years that the newspaper’s editorial board exhibits a bias toward testing consistent with the goals of Kaplan, which runs test readiness programs and tutoring. This has caused the newspaper to “dismiss” the side of the teachers, who Saunders said prefer non-test-reliant reforms.
“Not revealing the association of Kaplan with the Washington Post creates collateral damage for education reform in D.C.,” Saunders said.
Test scores account for up to 50 percent of D.C. Public Schools teachers’ evaluations, which can determine their salaries.
At the rally, teachers will shout, “We’ll stop buying until you stop lying.”
Kris Coratti, a spokeswoman for the newspaper, said, “The Washington Post is entirely separate and independent from Kaplan. We believe our coverage of D.C. Public Schools speaks for itself.”
Here’s a case in point. Most recently, the Post has accurately reported on the success of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (DCOSP), not from a slanted, biased perspective, but from an objective analysis based on evidence that the program works. DCOSP offers scholarships to low-income children in the District of Columbia, affording them the opportunity to escape failing schools.
When Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) brought the program up for reauthorization in the House, President Barack Obama launched a pre-emptive strike against it, claiming “[DCOSP] has not yielded improved student achievement by its scholarship recipients compared to other students in D.C.” The Post called out the president for ignoring evidence of the program’s success and cited to testimony and evidence contradicting the president’s claims. The Post’s editorial board also declared its support for DCOSP:
Our view has never been that this voucher program is a substitute for public school or public school reform. But while that reform proceeds, scholarships allow a few thousand poor children to escape failing schools and exercise a right that middle-class parents take for granted — the right, and dignity, of choice.
And maybe that’s one reason the Washington Teachers’ Union is taking aim at the Post. The paper’s editorial board took a stand on an issue strongly opposed by the National Education Association and the Washington Teachers’ Union — both of whom, like the president, ignored evidence of DCOSP’s success and lobbied Congress to oppose it. Fortunately, the students won out last week, DCOSP was funded in the budget agreement, and the Washington Teachers’ Union did not get its way. But that won’t stop the teachers lobby from taking to the streets to protest those who oppose its agenda.