Taking the Washington Post to School


Today’s Washington Post features a story by Michael Birnbaum on the controversial new Texas social studies standards.  As characterized by the Post, the standards sound quite bad.  Ann Althouse was concerned by the story, so she looked at the Texas materials (for which the Post had declined to provide a link) and was appalled.  “Virtually everything cited in the article to make the curriculum seem controversial is misstated!” She summarizes:

If you’re going to criticize the new social studies curriculum adopted by the Texas Board of Education, you’d better quote it.  Or at least link to the text. And if you choose to paraphrase and not even link, and I have to look up the text myself, and your paraphrase is not accurate, it is my job to embarrass you by pointing that out.

Based on what Althouse reports, Birnbaum and the Post should certainly be embarrased.

UPDATE: Just so there is no confusion, neither this post nor that by Ann Althouse is a defense of the Texas standards. However bad they are, news outlets should report on them accurately.  What Althouse shows is that the Post utterly failed in this regard.  Criticizing the Texas standards should not require misrepresenting them.

SECOND UPDATE: It appears Ms. Althouse may have blogged too soon — and I may have been too quick to repeat her accusations against the Post.  Althouse relied upon the text of the standards as proposed a few months ago, not the final language.  The Texas State Board of Education revised the standards this past week before approving them.  Based on live-blogging by the liberal Texas Freedom Network (see here and here), and the direct quotes (and, in some cases, video they provide), the Post‘s characterizations of the final language is much more accurate that Althouse suggested.  I think it’s fair to suggest the Post story should have quoted the relevant language (as this prior story did), but unless there is something inaccurate about TFN’s account, Althouse and I both owe the Post and Birnbaum an apology.

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