Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hyman Flunks Yet Again

Not content to merely attack teachers in higher education, Hyman has been on the warpath against public school K-12 teachers of late. Just a few days ago, he went after a substitute teacher for deciding not to shop at Wal-Mart. This time around, Hyman attacks public school teachers in general.

The vehicle for this attack is a
“study” done by an outfit calling itself the American Legislative Exchange Council that claims public schools are doing poorly despite increased spending.

Boy, that sure sounds bad, doesn’t it? But I can’t help but wonder if the ALEC report is something we should take seriously.

To begin with, let’s take a look at ethos. Hyman tells us nothing about the American Legislative Exchange Council. As we’ve all learned, when Hyman cites an august-sounding organization as an authority but doesn’t say anything about it, it’s almost certainly a conservative political group with an agenda.

Sure enough,
ALEC is a group that has as its primary goals the mainstreaming of rightwing political positions and getting legislators and businesses together in order to draft legislation that will benefit corporations. It is funded by the usual suspects when it comes to rightwing think tanks. As an organization, ALEC is traditionally anti-environment, anti-regulation, pro-privatization, and pro-Big Oil. It’s essentially a corporate lobbying organization, and a pretty powerful one at that.

Does this mean they’re necessarily wrong when it comes to their study on education? Not necessarily, but they do have an agenda. As a pro-privatization organization, they are in favor of
turning over education to privately-owned charter schools. Whatever they can do or say to undermine confidence and support for public education serves the interests of their members and clients.

Turning to the report itself, it’s a mess. I’ve only skimmed through it myself,
but others that have looked at it in depth note that it’s filled with statistics, charts, and graphs that don’t have any clear relevance to the topic, and that the data it does provide that seems relevant is often at odds with their stated conclusions.

For example, it turns out that
charter schools tend to perform less well than public schools. It also turns out that, contrary to what Hyman says, increased funding for schools does often correlate in better performance.

People who are actually experts in education (as opposed to political lobbyists)
have called the ALEC study “unsophisticated,” “disingenuous,” and “naïve.”

Sounds an awful lot like “The Point,”doesn’t it?

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 4.07


At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

Somewhat embarrassed, I noticed that you did a good deed for our poster-pal, Mike Thayer, by alerting him to a possible problem with fraudulent "sick of spin" blog entries.

Here's my question: So Ted, repeatedly branded by Thayer as a bad liberal (as if a redundant phrase), extends a courtesy to Thayer. Why, then, does Thayer turn around and claim on his blog that this apparent problem is due to "Liberal Fraud"? I didn't see any data to back that up. Just presumed guilt.

Seemed a little harsh.

Why can't we just leave the broad negative characterizations to the Hyman-Limbaugh-O'Reilly-Savage-Coulter-Horowitz Noise Machine? After all, they're pros!

At 12:35 PM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

Yeah, I was just sympathetic to the issue of identity theft on the web, and although Mike has said some rather unpleasant things about liberals in general, people posting on this site, and me, putting up false posts under someone else's name just seems like a whole order of magnitude higher on the crappiness scale. It's one of those things I would hope anyone would agree is bad form, regardless of the political ideologies of those involved.

And just maybe it will do a little to convince Mr. Thayer and others that just because they hold political beliefs he doesn't agree with, folks with more liberal political beliefs aren't evil.

Anyway, I'm a uniter, not a divider!



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