To the Editor:
As you reported in “Education Slips as Election Issue” (July 16, 2008), a Public Education Network survey recently showed that Americans’ interest in education is waning, and that the public wishes the U.S. presidential candidates would spend more time talking about education issues. I thought this was a rather remarkable finding, since it would seem to suggest that the media have a great deal of power to shape our attitudes merely by what those in the press choose to focus on; and, at the same time, that there is an undercurrent of opinion that would like to see more attention paid to schools and schooling.
As a freelance journalist who writes about education, I’ve found that the difficulty in this election season is getting newspapers to pick up such stories. I wrote an op-ed essay about the PEN survey and submitted it to approximately 70 newspapers, for example, but didn’t get a single hit. While rejection is the norm in my profession, I would have thought someone might be interested in a perspective about the survey, since it received little attention in the press.
A version of this article appeared in the July 30, 2008 edition of Education Week as What the Public Wants, and What the Media Give Us