Accuracy in Media

Teaching-centered news outlet The74Million tried to pass off a clearly biased party as an expert in a new piece headlined, “Parents, experts and traditional teacher preparation programs caution against unchecked growth of emergency and temporary licensing to fill vacancies.”

The outlet has run a series of recent articles pointing out that the common insistence that there are teacher shortages are untrue, at least to the extent commonly claimed. One important point is that given demographics, fewer teachers are actually needed, as the teachers’ unions tend to concentrate on the gross number of teachers, not teacher-to-student ratios. This article is in opposition, or retaliation, even, to those pieces.

The parent quoted is “Annette Anderson, an education professor,” and it’s possible to think that, however unkind that might be, the education professor part there is to the fore, is paramount. We’d also suggest that the “s” on parents is a little overdoing things when Anderson is the only parent quoted.

The claims are simply that having student teachers, people teaching outside their subject qualifications,  even people who haven’t been through a traditional teacher training degree at all, teaching in an actual classroom is a danger to all that we hold dear and pure about education.

It’s possible that this is true, too. We might need persuading of that ourselves but still, it could be true. But if it were then perhaps it would be possible to find a wider range of opinion-making that assertion. Other than the already mentioned Professor of Education the job titles of all of the others quoted in the article are “vice president of research at the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education”, “University of Utah’s associate dean for teacher education”, “dean of the teachers college at Arizona State University”,  and these are put forward as independent experts on the subject, not as self-interested participants in the process they are putting forward.

So, what we’ve actually got here is people who make their living by educating teachers to formal teaching qualifications insisting, very loudly, that educating teachers into formal teaching qualifications is very important.

Hmm.

The74Million is a media outlet dedicated to the business and life of teaching itself. They’re a donations-supported site, so the usual statistics about reach and visits aren’t generally available – those usually come from claims made to advertisers, after all.

It is, of course, terrible to be endlessly cynical about life and the motivations of others. But Upton Sinclair really did have a point there one proof of that logical soundness being that it still works when inverted. People who make their living doing something think it very important that we understand how important that thing is, do they? Or, perhaps, journalism could stop using self-interested participants in events as independent analysts and sources.

As has been pointed out, some things really are like asking your barber whether you need a haircut?




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