I finally got around to watching John Stossel’s “special report”, “Stupid in America”, from last Friday’s 20/20 program.
I really was in no hurry. As expected, it was very heavy on unqualified praise for choice programs and very short on evidence that such schemes actually work for more than just a few students with very supportive parents.
But for full details on the lopsided propaganda in this program, take a visit to Media Matters, which specializes in exposing the kinds of half-truths, manufactured “evidence”, and outright lies used by “journalists” like Stossel.
Throughout his report, Stossel repeatedly presented out-of-context material in making derogatory statements about the state of public schools, teaching methods employed, and students’ general knowledge.
As Media Matters for America has previously noted, Stossel has a history of making misleading or false claims to make his point, and in “Stupid in America,” Stossel and his guests made a series of false or misleading claims in support of school choice.
During his “Stupid” report, Stossel complained of difficulties he said he had gaining access to public schools with news cameras, claiming, “It’s hard to get our cameras into schools.” Yet Stossel himself cherry-picked the charter schools he chose to highlight in his special, apparently choosing only schools with reported successes and ignoring studies that, again, show that in the aggregate, charter schools posted lower test scores.
The writer of the Media Matters report follows each of these statements with plenty of evidence from the program to back up his claims. Which is a whole lot better than Stossel did. It’s a long piece but well worth reading the whole thing.
I’m not about to tell you that public schools don’t, for the most part, need a lot of work. However, this kind of wasted airtime does nothing to help.