Stossel on ‘Stupid in America’

John Stossel’s Stupid in America, which criticizes the “K-12 monopoly,” will air tonight on Fox at 10 EDT. Education spending has soared since 1970, while reading, math and science achievement has remained about the same, Stossel reports.
Cost of Education Graph

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  1. It’s a shame that John Stossel lost his credibility as a journalist by slanting stories to promote his libertarian views. That’s why his report is on Fox instead of ABC.

    I happen to agree with most of what he says about education. It’s a shame it has to air on a fringe network.

    • Speaking of losing credibility Mr. Wright: Fox is a fringe network. Other networks should be so fortunate.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Pleeeze (insert eyeroll). As if Fox is any more or less fringe and slanted than ABC.

      Stossel’s show is a re-run; it originally ran last year. There’s a particularly interesting segment on education in Denmark, which has an almost 100% choice or charter model.

      • When Fox tacitly endorses political candidates who question the theory of evolution, global warming, and who support torture, they are fringe.

        • Frank Hurley says:

          So says someone with an open mind.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          If your definition of fringe is that they contradict the beliefs of “right thinking” lefties – then yes, they are fringe.

          But, those beliefs are widely held by large chunks of the American population. Now if you believe that large chunks of the American population are a bunch of banjo plucking, red neck, racistst idiots then maybe you need to reexamine your definitions and also you’re own prejudices.

          • Oh, come on. Even Fox knows that Fox is biased.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Aaron, Who said Fox isn’t biased? Of course they are, as are ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC.

            Liberals, sorry – I mean “Progessives”, hate FOX because it has the wrong kind of bias. How dare they do that!!

          • Stacy, the bias on Fox is of a very different nature than any bias you might imagine to be on the other networks. They don’t pretend otherwise, so I’m not sure why you do.

            Second, what does your notion that “liberals” hate Fox have to do with anything? Their content is either defensible on its merits or it is not. If you don’t care about the merits, but simply get giddy at the notion that liberals hate something, then there’s not much point in having a discussion.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Sorry, Aaron, but how is the bias of Fox substantively different in nature than that of other networks other than it’s slanted to the right rather than the left and it reinforces the world view of its viewers rather than the world view of soft center of left viewers like you? Now is the point when you insist that FOX is in fact different – more egregious – more aggressive. It’s not.

            Liberals love to foam at the mouth over the perceived bias of FOX but have little to nothing to say about the obvious bias on the other networks. They only object when that bias competes with their own world view. You claim values that you don’t in fact support when faced with competing ideologies/narratives. You’re hypocrites.

            The reporting and commentary on all the networks FOX included have, imo, limited value.

  2. Uh, care to report instances of this “slant”?

    Stossel is one of the few journalists out there willing to rock the boat and go with something that doesn’t fit the “established narrative”. By declaring Fox to be a “fringe” network, you reveal to us more about your biases than Stossel’s.

    • Har! Don’t hold your breath waiting for a reply worth the time to type up.

      We’ll see what Stossel does with the topic. To my mind he’s missing the central fact of the public education system which is especially interesting in a libertarian. More then most a libertarian ought to understand that a public education system will inevitably become more public, i.e. political, as it becomes less educational.

    • Find a video by Stossel that you believe to be unbiased and persuasive that is available online, post a link, and see what people come up with. I’ve yet to see anything by Stossel that would qualify as well-reasoned. Even when he comes to the right conclusion, it’s very often for the wrong reasons.

      • Actually, there’s an example of lousy thinking right in the graph Joanne posted – it’s a non sequitur.

        I could as easily graph growth in the U.S. budget over time against the size of the continental United States – look at how spending has climbed, yet the country isn’t getting any bigger! Shocking!

        • Aaron,
          I think it is a graph of per pupil spending integrated over the 13 years of education for a given student, in other words, the total cost to educate one student. I don’t think that is necessarily flawed. But there certainly are other potential problems with the graph. It’s not clear if it ha been adjusted for inflation. Further below I express my other problems with the graph and why it is potentially misleading.

          • Jab, the graph is either intended to convey a message or it is not. If it is, then it is a non sequitur. If it is not, it is pointless. Either way, it’s bad journalism.

  3. Will Fox News disclose that Stossl regularly takes speaking fees of upwards of 25K from the pro charter crowd?

    Didn’t think so!

    • Go God! He’s actually willing to take money for addressing people who want to hear what he has to say? Alert the media! Call out the militia!

      By the way, a bunch of new charters opened in Michigan.

      • Stacy in NJ says:

        “By the way, a bunch of new charters opened in Michigan”

        And, the Indiana voucher program is wildly popular.

        And, Scott Walker’s reforms in Wisconsin are putting many districts in the black for the first time in years.

        We’re opening several new charters in New Jersey.

        The zeitgeist has turned.

        The unions and some teachers just haven’t figured it out yet. Eventually, they will.

      • There is nothing wrong with advocacy, and getting paid for advocacy. But then, he can’t really be considered a journalist… Journalists are not supposed to get paid for pushing a specific policy agenda. It depends on how they are advertising the show… I haven’t seen any commercials for it, but if it was being advertised as an investigative journalism news piece, but left out that Stossel is really a paid advocate, I would have a problem with that.

        Nothing wrong with this, as long as there is a disclosure. But not disclosing financial ties is considered bad ethics in journalism.

  4. Rob,

    All of Stossel’s work that I’ve seen on broadcast TV has met standards of good journalism. Most of his work is interesting and some of it is outstanding. However, I’ve also seen videos he’s produced for a libertarian foundation and some of them are woefully slanted. If they were opinion pieces, it would be different, but he did them in the newsmagazine format that he’s known for. I think these videos harmed his reputation as an unbiased investigative reporter.

    My point was that I like Stossel and I wish his criticism of the education system could be aired on the mainstream media.

    I believe it’s Stossel’s fault that reputable networks like ABC won’t air him.

    As for the comment that Fox isn’t reputable, yes, that says a lot about me–that I agree with the president’s assessment of Fox, that I believe in the science of evolution, that I believe in the science of global warming, that Saddam didn’t bomb the Twin Towers, that Sarah Palin is too ignorant to hold office, that phonics isn’t the only way to teach reading, that atheists aren’t the only ones who believe calculators should be used in math class, and that there were no weapons of mass destruction.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Yes, Robert. It says a lot about you. It says that you indulge in a lot of oversimplified stereotyping and sure feel good about yourself for doing so.

    • So Stossel’s work meets the standards of good journalism and it’s his fault a reputable network like ABC won’t air him. But he somehow departs from those standards when he produces work which – I’ll go out on a limb here – contradicts your beliefs.

      Robert, if you were capable of examining your own prejudices I’d suggest doing so. Alas, that’s never going to happen because you’re free of prejudices.

    • When did support for solid reading and math instruction become a conservative vs. liberal thing? My parents are diehard Democrats and I’m an Independent who typically comes out at the intersection of moderate/conservative/libertarian. However, we all agree on the importance of teaching kids to read via phonics and to solve math problems using traditional algorithms rather than calculators.

  5. Robert, while Stossel is very talented, and can be interesting, his work meets the standards of good journalism only if those standards are limited to slanting a story to advance a personal agenda. He does indeed meet the standards of Fox News.

  6. I feel good that I don’t use ad hominem.

    • Now that is funny.

      You have nothing to say about the program and the entire content of all your comments consists of personal attacks on Stossel yet you’re pleased with the fact that you don’t engage in personal attacks.

      None so blind I suppose.

  7. Ok…it wasn’t a bad show last night. I feel asleep before the last 10 minutes. Find it very hypocritical that union leaders got to go to private school but are opposed to anything but traditional government schools for everyone else’s kids…

    Wonder why the union didn’t take Strossel up on his acceptance of the challenge being willing to teach? I imagine he would have shown them up but why didn’t they let him? Does anyone know?

    Lots and lots and lots of dialogue needed to fixed the broken government monopoly…sadly many that need to be engaged in the fix aren’t even willing to listen…

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    Stacy. Ref Robert: Bingo. Also, Kaching.
    He doesn’t watch Fox, so he thinks those who do believe according to his stereotypes and straw men. It also means he has no familiarity with the Kay and Duelfer reports, wrt WMD.
    Perhaps he has an electric back-patter.
    Too bad he couldn’t have kept his holier-than-thou stuff to himself. From time to time he makes sense.

  9. I think that it is correct to take a look at the return on one of our most important investments. Rocking the boat can’t hurt because, at the very least, it leads to discussion.

  10. I think it’s clear that I praised Stossel and that I happen to agree with his view on education and that I wished it could have exposure in the mainstream media.

    I believe the nature of his mail order videos is the reason the mainstream media won’t air his work.

    The mention that Fox is out of the mainstream triggers the kind of response that Fox has popularized which degrades the level of discourse.

  11. For a critical view of Stossel’s “journalism,” check out:

    Robert Wright, don’t let the FAUXbots get to you… Joanne’s otherwise excellent blog has been infected with them for quite sometime.

  12. Richard Aubrey says:

    Robert. You keep mistaking us for your students who dare not correct you. Got to get over that.
    The association of Fox with creationists, people who think Saddaam bombed the WTC, that phonics is the only (not true, only the best in most cases) way to teach reading and that believing in phonics indicates inadequate intelligence, atheists and calculators???, and Kay and Duelfer didn’t actually submit reports is stereotyping and strawmanning. IOW, Fox watchers are idiots. Not like, say MSNBC watchers who haven’t yet heard of Solyndra.
    As regards AGW, we are not required to forget that CRU got busted, that the IPCC is losing one round after another, that the infamous Hockey Stick could be generated from a table of random numbers, that the Medieval Warm Period was before SUVs (and what was so bad about the MWP?).
    WRT Palin, you’re the guys who think Slow Joe Biden is just a dandy guy to have a heartbeat away from the presidency.

  13. Belinda Gomez says:

    He’s not reporting–he’s making documentary style pieces that do express his POV. Nothing wrong with that–he’s billed as a commentator. And ALL network types get $$ for speaking engagements. So rather than shoot the messenger–does he have a point?

  14. Belinda, I think he has a point and I happen to agree with it.

    All that I’ve seen of his work on broadcast TV meets journalistic standards. It’s the mail order stuff that he’s produced which has degraded his reputation.

    Richard, I don’t think MSNBC is a reputable network.

    And Richard, at the risk of sounding like a teacher, let me remind you that there’s a logical fallacy called tu quoque. To defend Sarah Palin’s fitness to serve by taking a jab at Joe Biden or to defend Fox’s legitimacy but bringing up MSNBC’s lack of objectivity, is to employ this fallacy. I welcome you to disagree with me but ask that your disagreements be meaningful by avoiding logical fallacies.

    I retire from teaching in June. Perhaps then I won’t sound like a teacher. But it might be hard to tell. After leaving the profession, I might not frequent this blog or I might start one of my own. Old Retired Farts With Too Much Time On Their Hands.

  15. Richard Aubrey says:

    Robert. ref tu quoque. Point is not that one is as bad as the other. Point is the different views of what is about the same thing–not, since Palin is hugely brighter than D’oh Biden–based on partisanship. Transparent. Ditto Fox vs. MSNBC.

    Oh, yeah. Before you get tired again, let me mention, ref AGW, the fuss at CERN. Seems they tried to sit on the results, then said the scientists could release the results as long as they didn’t speculate on the results of the results.
    And the guy in charge of the pub, Remote Sensing, ran a peer-reviewed article cutting the legs out from under the climate models by showing satellite measurements of heat escaping to space. He resigned. Apparently there wasn’t anything wrong with the article, but the guy’s other employer, whose lips have been firmly sewn to the green trough, was vexed.

    CERN sounds like an expensive version of the cloud chambers we made in HS chem half a century ago. ‘course they weren’t for climate science, but as a field expedient way of detectinging radiation should the nuclear balloon go up. Radiation. Clouds. RIght. Who’d have thought…?

    Remember Van Jones, an advisor to Obama who was busted claiming they’re going to use green to destroy capitalism?
    We know this stuff, Robert. We do, and I don’t know what you can do about it outside your classroom.

    • Richard… you twist and misrepresent, not to mention that your writing is borderline incomprehensible.

      But out of all that gibberish, I just want to call BULLSH** on your claim that Van Jones claimed that he wanted to “destroy capitalism” via supporting green jobs. How about you back up that ridiculous claim with a link.

    • What’s funny is that Van Jones has nothing to do with this discussion at all, but you feel the need to throw in completely UNRELATED issues to the discussion… It’s difficult to have a coherent discussion when you just throw random unrelated gibberish.

      Make a relevant argument (hint: avoid unrelated ad hominems). Back it up with evidence. Simple.

      But you expect us to follow your idiotic stream of consciousness. Seriously, you aren’t a quarter smart as you think you are.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    What for? I know it. You know it. I know you know it. My point is to let you know that I know it. So we don’t have to waste time with you trying to put me on.
    Why do you think the campaign fired him?
    9-11 truther. Celebrated the attack. Your kind.

  17. Richard Aubrey says:

    Just for grins, though, jab, search for “Van Jones” add “destroy” or “destroy capitalism” or “progressive”, or “capitalism”. You’ll get an eyeful. My first hit was a youtube interview.
    But don’t forget, everybody knows this. It’s all about the web.

  18. Richard Aubrey says:

    So, what was incomprehensible? References to CERN? Remote Sensing magazine? Satellite measurements of escaping heat?
    You need to keep up.

  19. Richard, what is incomprehensible is how you string together a bunch of phrases that have nothing to do with each other… it’s like an idiot savant stream of consciousness. You do not make a coherent argument, just throw out a bunch of out-of-context gibberish. I did do a google search on Van Jones… the vast majority of the hits were links to ridiculous right-wing echo chamber blogs screeching about how Van Jones is an evil Communist.

    You made a SPECIFIC claim that he claimed he wants to “destroy capitalism.” Back it up, preferable with a link to some objective website and not RedState, Breitbart, or any other right-wing partisan hacks.

    As for keeping up… trust me… I can follow the science… I have a PhD in Astrophysics, and do computational simulations for a living.

  20. Richard Aubrey says:

    jab. Then you’ll know about the CERN experiments, right? And the Remote Sensing mag’s editor resigning after running an article about heat escaping to space at a rate discrediting the warmingers’ models/ And CRU being hacked?
    The reason I write briskly is that I presume everybody knows this stuff and I am merely reminding them, not explaining each issue–which of course they know, even if they pretend not to.
    And you’ll note Giaever and Lewis, among others, resigning from the APS over AGW nonsense? Right? I mean, you keep up, right?
    To go back a bit, Robert presumed, or simply wanted to insult some folks, that those who watch Fox are creationists, have non-serious views of phonics, think Sarah Palin is worlds above Biden as a potential, don’t believe in the “science” of AGW, and so forth. This passes for reasoned debate among some.

    My point was that accusing Fox watchers of being, in effect, bitter clingers is stereotyping, strawmanning, and deliberately insulting. I decided to make a couple of points about AGW in order to make it clear that Robert’s “science” is shaky, at best.
    You’ll recall–no, it was widely publicized and if you claim not to have heard of it, you’ll be putting us on–that Al Gore said that corn-ethanol is an energy wash. He went for it because he was fond of the Tennesee farmers,and, before the Iowa caucus, of the Iowa farmers.
    We know this stuff. We also know that kids in Robert’s classroom have to pretend never to have heard of it. What he thinks they think of him, as they know better, appears not to bother him.

    • As I expected… expecting you to come up with a coherent argument is futile. For some inexplicable reason, on a post on John Stossel, you would rather blabber on about the unrelated topic of global climate change.

      And when asked to defend your claim that Van Jones said he wants to “destroy capitalism” you decide to switch topics.

      I don’t have time to go through point by point to refute all they shyt you just took out of context and misrepresented. But I’ll say, yes, I know very much about the CERN experiments on how cosmic rays may seed the formation of clouds (the results are still not conclusive), and I know about the resignations from APS, because I am a member of APS… the fact that a couple physicists out of tens of thousands are skeptics is irrelevant… I had an astrophysics professor from undergrad who didn’t believe in the big bang, and there is a well know professor at Berkeley where i did my PhD who doesn’t believe HIV causes AIDS. So what? There are always people who are on the fringe. It doesn’t mean they are correct (doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong either)… the mere existence of fringe views is pretty common in all branches of science. Whether those fringe views remain fringe views or gain wider acceptance depends on the accumulation of evidence… but the very fact that they exist isn’t dispositive of anything whatsoever.

      What cracks me up is that you aren’t using science to prove your case… but the reverse. You ALREADY believe, natch KNOW, that AGW is a myth, and so you troll the internet looking for each and every bit of a sign of controversy to prove what you think you already know. Frankly, you are just as guilty as the people you mock… you vehemently believe your dogma that AGW is just a hoax, and no amount of evidence will convince you otherwise.

      • jab> “And when asked to defend your claim that Van Jones said he wants to ‘destroy capitalism’ you decide to switch topics.”

        You can find quotes of Van Jones himself saying he is a communist.

        Are you unaware what communists (or marxists) think of capitalism and its future, and the role communists play in that future? Really? You’re serious?

        If you are serious, then you can’t be taken seriously.

  21. Richard Aubrey says:

    Robert changed the subject when he began stereotyping Fox viewers to discredit Stossel’s work. One of his issues with Fox viewers is that they deny AGW. So that’s one of the reasons I went there.
    There is one of those tens of thousands of scientists signed on to AGW is a myth thing. Not just one or two fringies.
    Keep in mind that the promoters have models and the deniers can point to a lack of evidence.
    Big difference for those claiming to be scientists.
    I didn’t link to Jones bec ause there are so many. Pick your poison, the guy’s it. Figured that finished the subject. As I said, the first one you’ll get–using yahoo–is an interview with the guy. Knock yourself out. Thing is, challenging somebody to provide a link to what everybody already knows is a tactic to discredit the mention of what everybody already knows. You keep up, you said. You already know this stuff. Have a ball.

    • Stacy in NJ says:

      Richard, I don’t think you’re fully understand jab’s points.

      You see, you need to just shut up.

      (I hope you enjoy this vid)

      • Stacy,

        Pleeze (iinsert eyeroll). Like, whateva. Like, why are you such a mean girl (insert lip smack).

        No one is telling Richard to shut up… when did conservatives become so damn whiney… “oh noooooze, I was challenged to defend my arguments… you mean libralz are just trying to oppress and silence my opinion…you and the whole lamestream media…”

        LOL… honestly, you shouldn’t try to emulate Sarah Palin.

        • Stacy in NJ says:

          Thanks for adding additional dimension to my point. Your thoughful, careful comments are a wonderful example of your personal debating style.

          Stay classy, jab.

          • Stacy…
            Get a grip…
            I just did the EXACT same thing you did to Robert above.

            Scroll up… you were the one who got obnoxiously snide with Robert with the the whole
            “Pleeze (insert eyeroll).”

            Just did the exact same thing back at you.

            Jeesh… you sure can dish it out but can’t take it.

          • Stacy in NJ says:

            Yes, but jab, as a Fox viewer and Palin devotee, It’s not possible for me to be classy, thoughtful, careful, lucid, or well informed. I am by definition a FAUX idiot. While you, on the other hand, are of that special class of individuals that knows better and would very much like the rest of us to just SHUT UP.

            You sure can dish it out but can’t take it.

    • Richard,

      Asking for link is not a tactic used to discredit… it is merely a request for EVIDENCE… if you claim that there are so many from which to choose, well then choose one. You made a claim. Defend it. A link to his actual statement (and not some Brietbert hatchet job).

      Hilarious that both you and Stacy feel this is an effort to “shut you up.”

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      challenging somebody to provide a link to what everybody already knows is a tactic to discredit the mention of what everybody already knows.

      There is very little everybody knows. You know more about this than most people. You are more likely to persuade them if you present your evidence in a clear and easily understood form. That takes some doing because it may require several edits and some preliminary research, “Let’s see, which youtube video had that especially damning statement?”

  22. Richard Aubrey says:

    Stacy. Thanks for the advice.
    I see that Robert also thinks Fox watchers believe WMD in Iraq. Good piece in NRO, extracting information from Kay and Duelfer–which jab and Robert, and, apparently, you hope the rest of us have not heard of. I watched the congressional hearings on the subjects. Fox watchers also catch CSpan from time to time. Shame, isn’t it?

  23. I don’t have a problem with Stossel, but I have to wonder if he bothered to put his 30 year graph of cost into inflation-corrected dollars.

    • Good point. I would HOPE that the graph is adjusted for inflation… otherwise, it would be insanely misleading.

      In addition, a graph like that looks dramatic, but really isn’t telling the whole story. It needs to be broken down into spending categories… is most of the increase in administration? In special education? Technology in the classroom? Lowering student-teacher ratios? Or is much of the increase due to the fact that today, we are educating a more socioeconomic diverse student population that requires more resources.

      I actually don’t know the answers to those questions…
      Depending on what specifically is driving the increase will inform you as to what really is the problem. But lumping it all together like that is done just for the shock value to draw in eyeballs to his program.

      As is often the case, the devil is in the details.

      • I would HOPE that the graph is adjusted for inflation… otherwise, it would be insanely misleading.

        It is. CPI-U inflation from 1970 to 2011 is around 5.5x

        In addition, a graph like that looks dramatic, but really isn’t telling the whole story.

        A lot of the story is that we haven’t gotten much (any?) more efficient at educating students since 1970. Because we still use roughly the same amount of educated-adult time, the cost in inflation adjusted terms has gone up. If the cost *HADN’T* gone up, then we’d be trying to hire teachers at 2011 salaries of about $15K/year in California. I’m guessing that the talent level available at those salary levels would be unacceptably low.

        One other way of looking at this is that as a country we have gotten wealthier, so the people with a given skill/talent/education level get more money than they did in the 1970s. This is what getting wealthier means! But the K-12 education did not get more efficient, so the cost-per-student in inflation adjusted terms went up.

        Other factors *DO* include more non-teacher personnel (not necessarily administration), and more money on SPED programs.

        But the big driver for this is (a) the US is a lot wealthier in 2011 than in 1970, and (b) not much more efficient at educating K-12 children.

        • Special education, the cost of providing health insurance to current & retired employees and their families, and making up for the pension fund’s investment losses are the primary cost drivers in my district. Those costs keep skyrocketing while the per-pupil funding from the state has been slashed dramatically since the recession began. The annual cost for each employee/retiree family health policy is $27k and the district picks up 75% of that. I’m 99.9% positive that the district was paying nowhere remotely near $3470 per family policy in 1970.

      • Roger Sweeny says:

        I completely agree that the graph would be ridiculous if it weren’t adjusted for inflation. Mark says it it, so I’ll accept that.

        I’m not sure it’s relevant where all the additional money is spent. Let’s say all the additional money is spent on special education. If that succeeds in raising the attainment of SPED students a little, with a corresponding small decrease among the rest of the student population, that says the additional money isn’t providing much in the way of education.

        • I agree. But let’s just say it turns out that SPED funding is a huge chunk of this increase (I don’t know whether it is or not)… well, that leads to a very different conclusion than what Stossel is trying to advocate (it’s all the fault of teacher’s unions and government monopoly!)

          The thing is, I just don’t know what the main drivers of the huge increase in per pupil spending… but at the very least, if Stossel was being honest, he would have broken down the numbers. Maybe he is right… but you certainly won’t get a convincing argument from him… he is basically preaching to the choir of those who already believe him.

  24. Richard Cook says:

    Yep, that there sure did look like a hot button. Glad I didn’t touch the gol darn thing….

  25. Richard Aubrey says:

    jab: “Or is much of the increase due to the fact that today, we are educating a more socioeconomic diverse student population that requires more resources.”

    Where does the more diverse SES come from? Did the ghetto culture expand? Are we now trying to educate kids who, in an earlier era, didn’t get to the kindergarten door?
    Strikes me that only Hispanics are a large enough group to make a substantial difference. But that doesn’t answer, say, the issues of Detroit.
    You’ll recall Iowahawk’s statistical analysis of Texas vs. Wisconsin, and further to the rest of the US.