No Test Score Left Intact

A fairly remarkable piece of journalism by the AJC, which analyzed test results for 69,000 public schools and found “high concentrations of suspect math or reading scores in school systems from coast to coast.”

Suspicious test scores in roughly 200 school districts resemble those that entangled Atlanta in the biggest cheating scandal in American history, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows. …

“These findings are concerning,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in an emailed statement after being briefed on the AJC’s analysis.

I won’t ask those who dismiss the relevance of daily newspapers to defend themselves.

‘The man who watched Cy Young pitch, Joe Louis box …’

Jeff Schultz pays tribute to Furman Bisher, who informed generations of Atlanta sports fans. I started reading him at 6 years old. More than 30 years later, I was (technically) a colleague, though Mr. Bisher had no peer.

“People look at me like I’m in a museum or something,” he said. “It’s like I’m one of those stone things, talking to you. A talking statue. They can’t quite understand it. They look at me and say, ‘You really knew him?’ It really didn’t strike me as that unusual at the time. I had known Cobb before. I’d seen him blow his stack at dinner. I had never seen Shoeless Joe before. When we spoke, he said, ‘This will be the first time I tell this story and the last.’ We got $250 apiece for that story from Sport Magazine. That was good money. It was 1949.”

The 10 Most Annoying People of 2011: The pundit class (and not because of their punditry)

David Gregory, among the worst offenders

Ironic that the journalists who make up the pundit class are responsible for propagating some of the year’s most pestiferous cliches:

  • “At the end of the day” …
  • “Kicking the can down the road” …
  • “Game changer” (which seamlessly doubles as a sports bromide)

On a positive note, usage of “a perfect storm” seems to have abated.

More annoying people of 2011 here — only two to go, including THE most annoying person(s?) of the year that almost was.

A Yankee bred, British educated journalist settles in Atlanta

His verdict?

Atlanta is built for spring and fall—the pleasant seasons, and Atlanta is a profoundly pleasant city.

The Economist piece is a bit more favorable than you’d expect. As an Atlanta native who fears the city’s best days are behind it, I found Jon Fasman’s take a bit reassuring.

Notes on a scandal

Engrossing stuff:

State report depicts Parks Middle as example of problems in district

A few weeks later, teacher Damany Lewis told investigators, [Principal Christopher] Waller approached him with an unusual question: “Do you think you could get into something undetected?”

Lewis, who gave investigators an extensive statement admitting his role in the cheating, answered yes. But he did not know what Waller wanted until the principal summoned him a few days afterward. Waller and an aide from a school program called Success-For-All had several CRCT booklets, each shrink-wrapped in plastic. Lewis used a razor blade to slice the plastic around each booklet, slipped out the tests and made copies so teachers could give answers to students. With a lighter, Lewis melted the plastic shut again.

Each year after that, Lewis told investigators, Waller would call him into his office when CRCT booklets arrived.

“Do what you do,” Waller would say, according to Lewis.

A roar from the dinosaur

The AJC’s reporting on the Atlanta Public Schools scandal demonstrates once again why the so-called old media is as relevant as ever.

After The Atlanta Journal-Constitution began reporting evidence of possible cheating in Atlanta Public Schools, the school system commissioned an expert to challenge the findings. The results, issued in May, validated the AJC’s reporting, but the system never made the report public.


Thoughts on the NPR scandal

*Fired NPR exec Ron Schiller’s indulgence of Zionist conspiracies bothers me much more than his putdown of tea partiers. Though I wouldn’t go as far as Wonkette’s Ken Layne

a crumbling nation of fat slobs who ignore their kleptocrat kings and instead point their corn-dog fingers at Scary Mooslims and the “Kenyan president” and then get their little racist feelings hurt when anybody says, “Hey, look at those racist clowns.”

… I have a hard time feeling sorry for a movement that empowers nutjobs like Bachmann Palin Overdrive. The tape doesn’t lie.

*Talk about the pot-bellied calling the kettle Negro. Conservative blowhards complaining about “hateful rhetoric” from a heretofore anonymous NPR exec must not listen to their own broadcasts. One difference: Ron Schiller was fired.

*James O’Keefe is not a journalist. As the National Review’s Michael Walsh notes, “There ought to be a sharp line between ethical professional journalism and activist citizen-journalism, because the professionals generally have the technical experience to extract answers to questions without resorting to subterfuge.” O’Keefe’s resume includes getting a heroic teacher suspended and plotting to embarrass a CNN correspondent by recording a meeting on hidden cameras aboard a floating “palace of pleasure” and making sexually suggestive comments.

Why do so many right-wingers insist on being jerks?

A Breitbart blogger posts:

There has been widespread condemnation of the violence directed against journalists covering events in Egypt–and there should be.  But honestly,  I don’t have a great deal of sympathy for those who have been attacked.

Journalists have a job to do,  but when they take huge risks for the sake of ratings and then find themselves in trouble,  it’s hard to take seriously any “shock” that media executives express about their journalists being targeted.   A journalist walking into a crowd of tens of thousands of protestors facing off against tens of thousands of other protestors is akin to the foolish hikers you read about from time to time who end up getting trapped in a snowstorm and have to be taken off the mountain by helicopter.  They made a foolish decision to ascend a mountain and simply were not prepared.

The world is a brutish, dangerous, and nasty place.  Don’t expect people in the developing world to smile and be friendly just because you have a press pass.   Journalists should use judgment and not race into the middle of what amounts to a massive bar room brawl without expecting something bad to happen.

Rush Limbaugh is likewise unsympathetic. Why? Because New York Times reporters are among those who’ve been detained by Mubarak’s thugs. If you find that kind of commentary funny or insightful you’ve got issues.

Conor Friedersdorf delivers an appropriate smackdown.

If Schweitzer weren’t so callous and uninformed about his own profession, he would understand that every editor who sent a journalist to Egypt did do with the sickening knowledge that they might be targeted; that lots of preparation is done and lots of precautions are taken; that many who head out to report these stories do so with a lump in their throat, braving dangerous situations not because they are naive or foolish or unprepared, but because they rightly believe that having eyes and ears on the ground is vital even when it is dangerous, so that reliable information is available (even to sites like Big Government, which link reports from the field, but mostly dishonor the brave men and women who do the work by imposing on it distorted analysis as blinkered as anything you’ll find).

The Times at its most insufferable

It’s so rare for presenters to be at open war with their host, and at times it almost looked as if Mr. Gervais and Mr. Bale were intent on bringing to Hollywood some of the incivility and extremism that veins political discourse. …

Trashing the association that feeds you, on the other hand, is bad form, or bad politics. Tom Hanks and Tim Allen seemed to be signaling their disapproval of Mr. Gervais at the night’s end. Mr. Hanks said he could recall “back when Ricky Gervais was a slightly chubby but very kind comedian.” Mr. Allen replied sternly, “Neither of which he is now.”

Glad to see The Times take a stand in defense of the awards show that once presented an acting trophy to Pia Zadora.

The Kanye West of politics

Sarah Palin ain’t gonna “talk in no motherfucking interviews,” having grown weary of the media’s “stupid ass questions” (see Kanye West video, starting at 2:19). Palin is a communications major from the University of Idaho, after all, so don’t be offended when she lectures journalists on journalism.

I’d love a Palin supporter to explain what’s biased about asking someone which newspapers or magazines they read.

James O’Keefe is no journalist

Sleazy right-wing journalist prankster James O’Keefe, deified by conservatives after an undercover stunt exposing alleged criminal behavior by ACORN, is back at it, targeting one of my favorite villains — the teachers unions.

So he sent one of his flunkies to a bar after a teachers’ conference to buy drinks for a special education teacher named Alissa Ploshnick, and prompt her to dish about incompetent colleagues while secretly recording her. One of Ploshnick’s stories was that a colleague of hers referred called a student a nigger” and was demoted but not fired. She was clearly outraged.

O’Keefe released the recording, and Ploshnick was suspended for using the “N” word. Never mind that she once threw herself in front of a careening van to protect her students, an act commended by President Bill Clinton.

None of this change the corrosive influence of teachers unions. But O’Keefe is not a trustworthy messenger. That he considers himself a journalist is offensive.

A conservative activist known for making undercover videos plotted to embarrass a CNN correspondent by recording a meeting on hidden cameras aboard a floating “palace of pleasure” and making sexually suggestive comments, e-mails and a planning document show.

Expect an angry letter from Sonny

Four years ago, Gov. H. Dumpty took time out from promoting fishing to complain about the paper’s “negative coverage” after his beloved Dogs got whupped by Tennessee.

Sunday’s sports page headline (“Dogs get put in their place,” referring to Georgia’s 51-33 loss to Tennessee, College Football, Oct. 8) is an indication of the way The Atlanta Journal-Constitution views Georgia. From the front page to the business page and now to the sports page, it is as if the AJC gleefully awaits lousy news about all things Georgia and pounces with their poison pens whenever bad things happen to the good people of our state.

Other cities celebrate the successes and mourn the losses of local businesses, individuals and sports teams. The AJC takes the opposite position and — instead of boosterism — criticizes, investigates and ridicules all things Georgia.