Charter-Study Criticism: No Apology Forthcoming

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To the Editor:

In regard to the American Federation of Teachers’ recent letter ("‘Hypocritical’ Ad Decried by AFT Report’s Authors," Letters, Oct. 13, 2004) responding to our paid advertisement on its charter school study (“Charter School Evaluation Reported by The New York Times Fails to Meet Professional Standards,” Sept. 15, 2004):

The Center for Education Reform stands by its research and assessment of its data. We continue to support the conclusions of the 33 researchers from wide and varied backgrounds who found shortcomings not only in the AFT’s conclusions, but also in the manner in which those conclusions were reported by The New York Times.

The AFT letter-writers imply that an apology is in order because we did not take similar issue with the work of Harvard University scholar Caroline Hoxby. She reported outstanding progress in charter schools in her state by evaluation of verifiable, quantifiable, and more comprehensive data.

What I question is why The New York Times did not assign any of its staff writers to report on these findings. Ms. Hoxby’s research certainly did not occupy space on the front page above the fold, as the AFT effort did. In fact, it did not even appear in The New York Times.

For that, I am sorry. I’m sorry there appears to be a bias at the Times against education reform, a bias that apparently suits the AFT just fine.

If we are to look objectively at how education issues are covered by reputable newspapers, we must question why a report issued by a scholar with impressive research credentials and backed by one of the nation’s most prominent universities fails to attract any attention by New York’s newspaper of record. But a less-than-objective and skewed analysis makes its front page.

When and if Caroline Hoxby or other researchers receive above-the-fold, front-page coverage with the same degree of “balance” given the AFT’s work, let the record show that the Center for Education Reform will give their work the same degree of scrutiny it gave the AFT.

Jeanne Allen
Center for Education Reform
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 24, Issue 10, Page 39

Published in Print: November 3, 2004, as Charter-Study Criticism: No Apology Forthcoming

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