For many years, the Daily Journal has been supportive of most everything the Mississippi Department of Education has done, or wanted to do, including trying to kill recently passed charter school legislation. The newspaper has likewise supported the recent push for the unproven, untested change in standards to the new Common Core.
While one would expect bias and allegiance to the Education Department from the Daily Journal based on past performance, it is disappointing that editors would allow or encourage reporters to propagate outright fabrications through lazy reporting.
In a recent article ( “Oxford meeting addresses core concerns,” Aug. 21), Daily Journal writer Chris Kieffer covers the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations tour in support of Common Core and the stop in Oxford. However, his “report” does little more than assist education bureaucrats’ ongoing attempts to smear anyone who dare question their authority.
Kieffer not only excludes the numerous concerns and unanswered questions of parents, teachers and legislators in his “report,” he inaccurately characterizes those who want answers as nothing more than President Obama “haters.”
To quote Kieffer: “The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has made statements questioning the Common Core and other states have considered discarding them. Much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace of them.”
That is Kieffer’s entire treatment of those of us who have concerns. His lack of inclusion of those concerns is lazy, dishonest, biased and it is shameful.
The truth is there are many legitimate unanswered questions about Common Core, how it was adopted and why, what level of authority and control the Department of Education is handing over to the federal government, and whether the Common Core standards are really about higher expectations and will give Mississippi students the best chance at future success. The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition has stepped up to demand answers. We hope all parents and teachers who have concerns will join us in that effort. Our children deserve no less.
It is expected that bureaucrats at the Department of Education would try to turn disagreement into something as trivial as a political dislike of the president. But, for the Daily Journal to knowingly mislead its readers with this type of “reporting” is extremely deceptive. It hampers the ability of your readers to make informed decisions with facts. It reduces the Daily Journal to a tool of the Department of Education to be used to ‘shape’ public opinion through exclusion of useful information that tells the whole story.
If the Daily Journal wishes to enter into a collaborative effort to act as the Mississippi Department of Education’s public relations arm then that is a decision for the owners and editors. But, you should at least have the boldness and courage to let that fact be known before publishing articles that purport to be honest and unbiased news.
In the meantime, if you wish to fully and accurately report the issues surrounding Common Core in Mississippi, you will find many of the Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition’s questions here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/161607212/MSCC-Common-Core-Letter-to-MDE-Aug-19-2013
Maybe the Daily Journal reporters will even consider asking a few themselves, next time.
Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula)
Policy Chairman-Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition
THE EDITOR REPLIES: The statement in the article by reporter Chris Kieffer that “much of the criticism has been tied to President Barack Obama’s embrace” of Common Core standards is accurate, not a “fabrication,” as Sen. Watson suggests, since a principal objection of Common Core opponents around the nation has been that the administration has tied federal financial incentives to its adoption and the questions about federal control that raises, as alluded to in Sen. Watson’s letter.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a Common Core supporter, wrote of the growing opposition in the National Review recently: “And President Obama’s embrace of the standards as his idea has given the appearance that they are a Washington edict. It has politicized the issue and complicated the understanding of who initiated and led the development of these higher standards.”
The purpose of the reference in Kieffer’s article was to place into context the statements that followed from Interim State Superintendent Lynn House that work on the standards did not start during the Obama administration and was initiated by the states. Nowhere in the article did Kieffer make any reference to Obama “haters.”
Kieffer’s article was a brief report on a night meeting in which House and state Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, were quoted. It was not intended as a comprehensive report on Common Core. A front-page article the previous day from a similar Jackson meeting by the Daily Journal’s Bobby Harrison included specific concerns raised by a Common Core opponent in attendance, and a previous article outlined other concerns expressed by members of the Senate Conservative Coalition.
The Daily Journal did not, as Sen. Watson writes, try “to kill recently passed charter school legislation.” Daily Journal editorials in the last two years have consistently supported a reasonable charter school bill with certain limits, and that’s how we characterized the one that passed this year. Kieffer and the Daily Journal provided some of the state’s earliest and most extensive reporting on the charter school issue prior to development and passage. The Journal has editorially supported implementation of the Common Core standards, as has most of the state’s elected leadership.
Lloyd Gray/Executive Editor Daily Journal