Taking the Guardian to Task: Tim Redmond and the Peninsula Press Club Awards
A note on Tim Redmond's editorial this week:
Generally, it's an advice column from Redmond (who has "a son going into third grade and … a daughter going into kindergarten") to San Francisco public schools' new superintendent, Carlos Garcia. It's fairly typical of Redmond's work -- dry, vaguely confident, straightforward, plodding -- but one simple inconsistency caught our attention:
Early in the editorial, he asserts that a main issue of contention in public education is "the achievement gap." He says: "white kids and Asian kids and kids from wealthier families do far better than black kids and Latino kids and kids whose families don't have much money. [T]he new superintendent needs to make resolving that problem a priority."
This is a valid concern; we agree that it's important to provide substantive education (whatever that means) to all students across barriers, and that, to do this, it's necessary to innovate and reform. But after riffing for a couple hundred generally obvious words concerning, in order, San Franciscans (they don't "like or tolerate arrogance or secrecy"), common ideas ("You've got some tough decisions to make"), unnecessary clichés ("It's hot in the kitchen; get used to it before you arrive…"), and some lamely-stated admonitions ("…do not — do not — continue the previous superintendent's policy of building a wall between the press and the district"), he concludes with this:
"…for the sake of all of us, don't make the San Francisco schoolkids lab rats for your pet educational theories. This isn't a social-science experiment or a doctoral thesis you're taking on. These are people's lives. Have a little respect for that, and we'll get along fine."
How, then, does Redmond expect "the achievement gap" to lessen without experimentation? When problems exist, people innovate -- they research and test possible solutions. How does he suggest the superintendent change a flawed system without trying new ideas? Redmond, as usual, offers no real solution.
Also, re: the Guardian's self-congratulatory news piece about awards won via the Peninsula Press Club: readers might like to know that the Guardian won most of these in the "Magazine / Trade Publication" category against hard-hitting bastions of journalistic integrity (and hell-raising!) like San Jose Magazine, The Wave Magazine and Valley Life Quarterly (PDF).
-- The Snitch