More “self-destructive behavior” from the New York Times

Chester Finn exposes error after error in a New York Times column by Francis Clines about Texas’ charter schools. The errors cited by Finn provide an object lesson in why liberals like Clines never seem to get stories about conservative policies right. First, there is the lack of integrity, manifested in a disregard for the facts — charter schools are not nonpublic schools; Texas is toughening, not relaxing, its reading test standards. Second, there is the lack of intelligence, manifested in the failure to understand what conservative policies are trying to accomplish, as when Clines cites the demise of one-eighth of Texas’ charter schools as proof that this reform strategy is failing. As Finn points out, conservatives view the closing of unsuccessful schools as a victory for accountability and as evidence that competition works. Third, there is the lack of objectivity, manifested in the use of language that reflects an unquestioning acceptance of liberal premises. Thus, Clines uses verbs like “siphoning” and “divert” to describe the effect of charter school funding on conventional public schools. But, as Finn explains, “this canard makes sense only if you believe the money belongs to school system, not that it was appropriated for the education of children in whatever school they opt to attend. (Does a college student attending Rice with the help of a state scholarship or loan ‘siphon’ money from the University of Texas.)”
Finn concludes that there is “no point in saying ‘shame on the New York Times’ because that paper’s shamelessness has long been on display. Perhaps we should simply view it as America’s only major daily source of fiction — and then plead for less predictable plots and more finely drawn characters.”


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