Accuracy in Media

NPR tries to tell us that actually, if you really concentrate on it, parents are very happy with what schools are teaching to their kids. The correct trick to use when reading these claims is to look for what they’re not saying, not what they do. The piece is actually headlined, “Most parents don’t disapprove” which is always one of those tells. As an example:

“The most partisan issue in our poll was gender and sexuality, but still only a minority expressed any concerns. Republicans are closely divided: 26% say schools are not teaching about gender and sexuality in a way that matches their family’s values, while 22% say schools are (the remainder don’t know or say schools aren’t addressing those topics).”

Examine that again a little. Only 22% say schools are – everyone else is a don’t know or against the statement. A 22% satisfaction rating is not exactly rousing approval now, is it?

It’s also worth examining this statement:

“Just 18% of parents say their child’s school taught about gender and sexuality in a way that clashed with their family’s values; just 19% say the same about race and racism; and just 14% feel that way about U.S. history.”

Add those up and we’ve 51% of the parents disapproving of one thing or another. Of course, we’re playing a game there too – some parents will be unhappy about more than one thing.

But now let’s think about this in a slightly more critical manner. We’d not defend a restaurant chain on the idea that only 18% (or 19%, or 14%) hate the food they’re served. We’d not suggest that a clothing chain that 14% of the customers despised was doing well. Why not?

Because with restaurants, with clothing, with near all of life in fact, we have choices. So, folk who don’t like what is on offer can go elsewhere. Given that we’ve all got to pay the property taxes that pay for the schools we don’t have that option – yet.

NPR is, of course, a major media institution. The radio shows, of course. It’s listed as No. 3 in the country for arts and music. The website itself gains 85 million visits a month. This really is the media establishment.

NPR is using this opinion poll to show that, hey, not that many people are upset with the public schools. Not quite grasping that having any folk unhappy with the only choice available is the very argument for more choice. That “only” 18% think public school education on gender and sexuality is against their own family values is exactly why the one monolithic public school system should end. Just like those restaurants – choice means each can find what’s right for them, right?

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