Thursday, May 26, 2005

Misleading headline du jour 

The headline trumpets good news for liberals:

Left-Wing Bias in Education Schools Is Overstated by Conservative Critics, 2 Reports Suggest

The two studies found that "only about 12%" of course weeks were directed towards exposing students training to become school principals recieved exposure to "different educational and pedagogical philosophies, to debates about the nature and purpose of public schooling, and to examinations of the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic context of education." But of these 12% of course weeks,
instruction devoted to such topics was biased, with 65 percent of those course weeks qualifying as left-leaning, 35 percent as neutral, and less than 1 percent as right-leaning.

According to the report, Mr. Hess and Mr. Kelly labeled left-leaning course weeks as those that advocated concepts such as social justice and multiculturalism, focused on inequality and racial discrimination, emphasized notions of "silenced voices and child-centered instruction," or criticized testing and school-choice reform.

Right-leaning course weeks were those that criticized ideas of social justice and multiculturalism, viewed focusing on inequality or discrimination as engaging in "victimhood," advocated phonics or "back-to-basics instruction," or framed discussions of testing or school-choice reform in a positive light.

Some course weeks identified as left-leaning included "The role of the curriculum in legitimating social inequality" and "What role(s) do race and social class play in school reform? Is social Darwinism a useful reform concept?"

Course weeks labeled as balanced or neutral included "Are unions good or bad for public education? What does the evidence say?" and "What should schools teach? Phonics vs. whole language; multicultural education/teaching for diversity."
Understand what they did, then: They went to 56 education schools, picked out 31 schools that had four syllabi that they could code, and coded them by course weeks. The article makes a big deal out of the finding that the words diversity, multicultural or multiculturalism appears in only 3% of the syllabi. That tells me nothing of what happens in the classroom. What evidence does exist says that 1/8th of course weeks gets devoted to looking at different views of higher ed policy, and that eighth is pretty darn liberal. Moreover,
Of the 50 most influential living management thinkers, as determined by a 2003 survey of management professionals and scholars, just nine were assigned in the 210 courses. Their work was assigned a total of 29 times out of 1,851 readings.
So where is the evidence that claims of bias are "overstated"???