MSM Gets Spun

Okay, okay, we weren’t there. But here’s our best guess: after the NJDOE sent out a press release yesterday offering an call-in news conference with reporters regarding the release yesterday of the 2009 School Report Cards, lots of local Jersey papers took up the offer. Deputy Commissioner Willa Spicer (a hold-over from Corzine’s administration) explained how, while indeed cost per pupil is up 7.9%, this minor detail is overshadowed by the wonderful news that SAT scores are up too. Voila: almost every major daily in the state leads with this analysis.

Here’s the Trenton Times, the Star-Ledger, the Asbury Park Press, and the Courier Post, every last one led by the nose to an illogical lede. One paper saves the reputations of the others, however: the Record. This paper explains, “North Jersey students in affluent suburban high schools consistently had dramatically higher SAT scores on average than those in poor urban areas, the New Jersey School Report Card released Tuesday shows.” True enough. Rich kids do better on the SAT’s than poor kids, and that’s one of the reasons why more and more colleges make the standardized tests optional. Says Ada Beth Cutler, dean of education at Montclair State University, “I don’t think SAT scores reflect very much about schools themselves at all but rather the nature of the populations of the schools.”