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NCLB Outrages

So this Reporter says to this Scientist…

Susan Ohanian Comment:

Overheard in the newsrooom:

  • Reporter doing phone interview on "value added" teacher evaluation, calls Democrats for Education Reform:

    DER: Of course the Gates Foundation, as always, is right on the money.

  • Reporter calls the Thomas B Fordham Institute:

    Fordham: Gates research is as solid as it gets.

  • Reporter calls Education Trust:

    Education Trust: Have you read our absolutely unbiased research proving that value added is the greatest thing since peanut butter?

  • Reporter, proving he's grassroots oriented, calls his second cousin, whose neighbor's grandmother's gardener knows a longtime teacher:

    Reporter: What do you mean the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is biased? I've been looking at their impressive reports since lunchtime. And Thomas Friedman proves conclusively. . .

    Teacher: Thomas Friedman sucks.

    Reporter: You can't say that in the New York Times.

  • By Andrew C. Revkin

    Here's what must be the shortest post ever on Realclimate.org, filed under the heading reporting on climate:

    Overheard in the newsroom:

    Reporter doing a phone interview: âPlease slow down, professor. Youâve been researching this topic for a decade. Iâve been researching it since lunchtime.â

    Later conversation:

    From here (h/t Josh).

    Iâm not quite sure whether this is aimed at eliciting a chuckle from scientists bemoaning the impossibility of communicating accurately with the outside world, or simply making a little fun out of the lack of reporters with a deep understanding of probability distribution functions or Bayesian analysis.

    One way or the other, letâs continue the conversation a few beats to see how this might play out, for worse or better, after that initial line:

    Professor: âReally. . . I donât have time to talk to uninformed reportersâ[even though my NSF grant essentially requires public outreach]. âGo away.â

    The reporter calls new number found via Google, of a scientist with a lot of time and training (at a think tank fighting restrictions on CO2, or at, say, the World Wildlife Fund).

    Scientist: âHappy to talk. What do you need?â

    Alternate scenario:

    Professor: âLet me send you a link to some background on climate sensitivity at Realclimate.org or climate.gov. Have a look and we can talk a bit later, Okay?â

    Reporter: âFair enough.â

    Professor: âWhen weâre done I may ask what youâre taking away from our chat, to avoid misapprehension. Okay?

    Reporter: âKind of like a testâ¦. Ha ha. Like being back in college.â

    Professor: âKind of like that.â

    Of course, the reporter might still say, forget this and go elsewhere. But it sure is worth a try, to my mind. Then, if he or she gets it wrong, thereâs another set of scripts.

    Ha. Education reporters are always on a 17-minute deadline. No time to read anything. Just time enough to call the Democrats for Education Reform. After all, "Reform" is good, right?

    — Andrew C. Revkin & Susan Ohanian
    New York Times blog


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