Artistic Propaganda instead of Facts Presented at the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar?
Common Core support doomed presidential hopefuls and common core implementation is causing budget nightmares for districts and states, but education reformers dedicated to the Initiative don’t want to talk about those facts. What does an education association of writers, Education Writers Association (EWA), want to cover in its upcoming national seminar and who are the writers listening to in sessions? They aren’t listening to stories from taxpayers who have to pay for the Initiative and the teachers who have to align their curricula to the standards and the students who now learn via close reading. They don’t want to write about the people who are directly impacted by NGOs and politicians who pushed this onto public education, instead, these writers largely focus on the PR points (since there was no research/data to support the CCSSI promises) and perpetuate the illusion that Gates et al funded organizations and researchers know what’s best for your state, school, teachers, and students. Richard Phelps writes in The Education Writers Association casts its narrowing gaze on Boston, May 1-3:
An organization claiming to represent and support all US education journalists sets up shop in Boston next week for its annual “National Seminar”. The Education Writers Association’s (EWA’s) national seminars introduce thousands of journalists to sources of information and expertise. Many sessions feature journalists talking with other journalists. Some sessions host teachers, students, or administrators in “reports from the front lines” type panel discussions. But, the remaining and most ballyhooed sessions feature non-journalist experts on education policy fronting panels with, typically, a journalist or two hosting. Allegedly, these sessions interpret “all the research”, and deliver truth, from the smartest, most enlightened on earth.
Given its central role, and the profession it represents, one would expect diligence from EWA in representing all sides and evidence. Indeed, EWA claims a central purpose “to help journalists get the story right.”
Rummaging around EWA’s web site can be revealing. I located the website material classified under their “Common Core” heading: 192 entries overall, including 6 EWA Radio broadcast transcripts, links to 19 research or policy reports, 69 posts in the “Educated Reporter” Blog, 1 “Story Lab”, 8 descriptions of and links to organizations useful for reporters to know, 5 seminar and 3 webinar agendas, 11 links to reporters’ stories, and 42 links to relevant multimedia presentations.
I was interested to learn the who, what, where, and how of EWA sourcing of education research and policy expertise. In reviewing the mass of material the EWA classifies under Common Core, then, I removed that which was provided by reporters and ignored that which was obviously purely informational, provided it was unbiased (e.g., non-interpretive reporting of poll results, thorough listing of relevant legislative actions). What remains is a formidable mass of material—in the form of reports, testimonies, interviews, essays, seminar and webinar transcripts, and so on.
So, whom does the EWA rely on for education policy expertise “to help journalists get the story right”? Which experts do they invite to their seminars and webinars? Whose reports and essays do they link to? Whose interviews do they link to or post? Remember, journalists are trained to represent all sides to each story, to summarize all the evidence available to the public.
That’s not how it works at the Education Writers Association, however. Over the past several years, EWA has provided speaking and writing platforms for 102 avowed Common Core advocates, 7 avowed Common Core opponents, 12 who are mostly in favor, and one who is mostly opposed.[i] Randomly select an EWA Common Core “expert” from the EWA website, and the odds exceed ten to one the person will be an advocate and, more than likely, a paid promoter.
Here’s the link to check out the agenda and information offered: http://www.ewa.org/national16
Who funds EWA and who is behind the purpose of helping the journalists ‘get the story right’?
Here’s some twitter chatter on the EWA site from CCSSI proponents:
Mr. Aarons is Communications Director for Data Quality Campaign which describes itself on twitter as Data Quality Campaign supports state policymakers & key leaders to promote effective
#eddata use to ensure students graduate high school prepared for success. It will be interesting to see how many parents are attending this seminar to answer his question.
If you want even more ‘philanthropists’ and NGOs dictating how schools operate and making legislative decisions in place of state legislatures, the article embedded in this tweet is a blueprint for yet more power being given to these individuals and organizations:
What type of writers attend this conference? Actual journalists or PR communication directors, or as Phelps asks, are they CCSSI advocates and/or promoters? Is the EWA yet another NGO funded organization so as to help the journalists ‘get the story right’? If these journalists are really journalists, they would talk to those who are subjected to CCSS mandates and find out *the rest of the story*. Otherwise, they aren’t journalists, they are the 2016 PR versions of ‘Mad Men’.
That’s it. Let’s pitch a television series based on talking points, spin, smoke and mirrors. When a writers association funded by ed reformers is training journalists to get the story right instead of presenting the facts, then you did need to call it for what it is: artistic propaganda.