‘ROUNDING THE GLOBE’-13: Critical Analysis of Boston Globe Education Coverage
Is a new day dawning at my morning newspaper?
Yesterday, this blogger who, like his many education reform nemeses, means only to do good in this world, took a sacred pledge not to mention Diane Ravitch for several weeks. That was my sincere intention, but after one whole day I have fallen off the wagon. It isn’t easy to give up an obsession, but my struggle was made more difficult by the appearance today of a long-awaited Larry Harmon column on… herself.
I took the pledge following a criticism by a fellow blogger who wrote, “We get it already!”…enough with Ravitch. That criticism actually led me to reflect on the cause of my obsession. Here it is: given Ravitch’s stature and coverage by other major papers, I didn’t see how the Globe could simply ignore the news of her turnaround. If ever they were going to cover a dissenting view on education as news this was it.
I guess I was right. Though the paper couldn’t bring itself to cover her recent Boston talks in the news columns, Larry Harmon did have a bylined column today about Ravitch. (I do not claim to understand how Harmon serves as a faceless oracle with his unsigned education editorials one day and then as a bylined columnist the next, but that’s another matter. Is it possible that one day the columnist will attack the editorial writer? Stay tuned. The Globe seems to be going all-Harmon all the time, while reform critics cry in their beer and paper their walls with rejection notices).
By the way, let me again acknowledge Joan Vennoci’s excellent Ravitch-based column that appeared earlier. That was a real “breadth-of-fresh-air” and a departure from the usual Globe line.
Still, let us give Larry Harmon credit. Ravitch’s views must taste like castor oil to him, but he drank it all the way down, kept a stiff upper lip, and summarized her main points. He was fair in the main, though somewhat misleading about her praise of Massachusetts standards, which she did not feel should be linked to high-stakes tests. The point of this column was less to engage Ravitch in debate than to dismiss her in the last two paragraphs. But that’s his right. That Harmon felt he needed to write about Ravitch-who, after all, cannot be dismissed as a nut or a hack-and recognize her policy turnaround as a significant event speaks well of him. It took a while to for him get there but get there he got.
So let’s set a fresh clock for the Globe op ed page and see if a new day has indeed dawned for that starved public forum. We will know if a Globe turnaround has arrived by observing whether dissenters are allowed to express their views in their own words and to develop arguments that lead to their own printed conclusions.
I now resume my pledge.