It takes a long time to break the habits that have taken a long time, and a lot of money, to install (invent?) to start with! The myth of “our failing schools” is one example, and the idea that the U.S. suffers from a shortage of STEM workers is another. It’s embedded even in the bipartisan support for one section of the latest proposed immigration legislation.
A few weeks ago I blogged about the NY Times editorial acknowledging that there is no STEM shortage. It was also was nice reading the prestigious Columbia Journalism Review (May/June) by Beryl Benderly exposing the same oft-repeated nonsense about STEM.
But, when will fact-checkers start questioning writers who claim (often in passing on another topic altogether) that our schools need to emphasize math and science more because that’s where the shortages are, and that’s why our economy is lagging?
I’ve been intrigued over the years at what fact-checkers at reputable magazines call me on—demanding “the evidence”—and what they don’t. Maybe it’s because I write for some publications and not others? I don’t think so because the range is pretty wide, although of course slanted toward the liberal/left side. Why would such a claim be more attractive to the Left than the Right? When do some contentious claims enter the sphere of “common knowledge”? What is required before something becomes “common knowledge,” how can we help the truth go viral. Can we turn it around?
Then we had better take on the whole issue of “failure”—who is and who isn’t, and what that tells us about ourselves. For example, if Massachusetts were a nation—and it’s bigger than Singapore, Shanghai and Hong Kong—whose test results are reported as though they were nations, Massachusetts would come in Number One on math and literacy testing.
P.S. Have I already told you to read Public Education Under Siege, edited by Michael Katz and Mike Rose (University of Penn Press)
Filed under: 2013 posts