Reporter Lynn Bonner and the News and Observer showed us once again why people have stopped buying newspapers: Reporters keep trying to make the news, not report it.
That’s exactly what Bonner did recently in her article, “NC education department used Koch-funded group for proposed history lessons.”
Yes, did you catch that adjective, “Koch-funded”? The N&O dropped the red herring in the headline to make sure you saw it.
If Bonner was so interested in reporting problems with Koch-funded group, wouldn’t she have reported the problems associated with the developing content for the history lessons? Wouldn’t she have given us some actual examples of flawed lessons?
In fact, the Department of Public Instruction decided to “highly recommend” the materials developed by the Bill of Rights Institute, the organization that contracted with NC DPI to develop lesson plans.
I guess Bonner didn’t list any objections, because she couldn’t find any. Instead she does what all liberal journalists do when the facts fail: She pulled out the old Koch brothers card. It’s the card sure to generate automatic guilt by association, no matter what the facts are.
Rather than focus on the facts, Bonner makes the Koch brothers the focus of the story and gets the quotes she wants to make her point.
She interviews a history teacher from Durham named Bryan Proffitt. Proffitt said people whose “principal concern is profit making” shouldn’t develop curricula. Bonner doesn’t mention that Proffitt has been involved in a potpourri of leftist causes, as a Google search quickly reveals.
Bonner also interviewed UNC Chapel Hill history professor Harry Watson. Watson is uncomfortable with having a Koch-Funded group develop the standards. He said, “I think the Koch brothers have demonstrated they have a strong and active partisan interest in politics. I don’t think the public school curriculum should be written with a partisan perspective.”
Proffitt and Watson represent muddled thinking, at best.
Proffitt contends that curriculum should not be developed by people concerned about profits, but in a democratic fashion, and by those closest to the classroom. Proffitt’s view of democracy doesn’t seem to be very democratic. It excludes parents, other educators or anyone outside schoolhouse door.
I’m still waiting for teachers or professors to protest Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, Microsoft or other technology companies who donate millions in equipment, software and training to schools and universities. Did I miss Proffitt’s protesting against these donations from companies that surely are also concerned about “making profits”?
Watson said he doesn’t think the public school curriculum should be written from a partisan perspective. I challenge him to identify a specific example of a “partisan perspective” in one of the lesson plans. Again, the North Carolina Department of Instruction “highly recommended” the materials developed by with the Koch brothers’ money.
Watson holds an interesting perspective. He believes that the act of merely accepting the money taints an organization, regardless of the content they develop. I haven’t heard Watson protesting any of the $272 million UNC Chapel Hill received last year in private donations from individuals or corporations. Does that mean Watson agrees with how the wealth was generated and finds nothing objectionable? Does Watson want Fred Eshelman to return his $100 million gift to the UNC School of Pharmacy? Eshelman made much of his money from profits from his drug companies and the sale of the companies. At one time he was also a strong supporter of Republican and conservative causes. Would Watson turn down Eshelman’s donation? Or similar donations to his own department?
I haven’t heard Watson or Proffitt say anything about the millions the Microsoft corporation has given schools and colleges and universities to develop and implement the Common Core Standards. Are we to believe a company with $86.3 billion in revenue does not seek to serve its own interests?
Proffitt and Watson fail to mention these concerns because they are blinded by their own biases and interests. Proffitt and Watson are both registered Democrats — and Watson has donated to the Bev Perdue and Obama campaigns. Both Proffitt and Watson have partisan perspectives. Since Lynn Bonner conveniently failed to mention those facts, I will.
Hypocrite is a term that fits Bonner, Proffitt and Watson. Proffitt and Watson are entitled to their opinions, however Jell-O-like they may appear, but those views should not be put forward as objective commentary. Bonner’s use of the Koch brothers red herring, disregard for the facts and clear attempt to slant the story discredit her profession.
If you want to sell newspapers, report the news. Don’t twist it to further your political views.