The NYT's Limp "Mop-Up" Editorial on Tutoring (Plus Gadfly & EdWeek Updates)

The "mop-up" editorial (is there a technical term?) is one of the most obvious, self-congratulating, and annoying traditions in big paper journalism. And Thursday's NYT has a great example of it.



After running a decent but not necessarily insightful or balanced piece about NCLB tutoring over the weekend (see below), the editorial page decides it'll jump on the bandwagon with an even less nuanced piece of commentary (Tutoring Gap).

There's nothing fresh or new here. And, unlike the news piece it follows and reality as we know it, the editorial puts the blame squarely on NCLB and the USDE, the states and suspect providers -- leaving out the districts and schools that aren't always doing their best to make this work as intended. It misrepresents what's really going on, and would annoy me no end if I were a beat reporter.

UPDATE 1: Speaking of mopping up, The Gadfly weighs in with Tutoring Tragedy, observing that some cities like Pittsburgh served 5 percent of the students it had funds to serve while others served 80 percent of those it could. "This contrast—certain urban districts meeting their responsibilities while others shirk them—is the real story. Where’s the outrage that some districts are doing all they can to keep parents in the dark about the free tutoring, since they retain the money if kids don’t sign up? Can you imagine the Times’ reaction if districts were keeping the free lunch program a secret from poor families?"

UPDATE 2: Education Week finishes things out with its own take on the last week or two of reports and events, focusing in particular on provider complaints and the results of a survey of 216 providers around the nation. One surprise? Tutoring participation has almost doubled from last year to the year before, despite all the problems. You can see the EIA PowerPoint here.


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