Race to the Top coverage trivializes important education reform effort

February 20, 2011

The front page story by Liz Bowie ("Race to the Top funding creates a race for the pot," Feb. 18.) shows how flippant language can trivialize and even distort information.

Your writer refers to an assistant state superintendent of schools as a "behind-the-scenes bureaucrat" and hypothesizes that her work involving "statistical analysis and minutiae" would "put most of the world to sleep." Recently, this "bureaucrat," we are told, has become a "magnet for contractors" because she has the responsibility of reviewing applications for grants funded by the federal government's Race to the Top program.

Instead of reporting what grant applicants seek to accomplish on behalf of students, your writer focuses on a "bureaucrat" who's being sought after by "contractors who want a piece of the federal largesse" because she has "money to give away" out of "the biggest pot of money consultants have seen in years."

"Give away?" "Largesse?" "Pot of money?" Readers are led to conclude that this federal program is merely a form of welfare for high-paid "experts." Only if they wade deep into the story will they learn how complex the implementation process for this grant program will be, and what kinds of work can be accomplished.

With "news reportage" like this, front-loaded with spin and wink-wink innuendo, it's no wonder the public has become so cynical.

Alice Cherbonnier, Baltimore

The writer is managing editor of the Baltimore Chronicle

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