Media Ignores Bush Proposal for National Student Database
by ben waxman, Fri Sep 22, 2006 at 10:19:12 AM EDT
(Cross posted on "For Our Future.")
In the coming days, the Department of Education will unveil a plan for national student database. This proposal is a radical expansion of government power and would allow federal officials to track everything from financial aid to standardized test scores. Educators and student activists have raised concerns about the database, but the issue is almost completely shut out of the national media. The major news organizations need to start paying attention to this issue--a national federal database must be carefully scrutinized by the public before becoming policy.
In some ways, it's not surprising that the media has failed to cover this issue. News reporting of youth issues is often riddled with flaws. There is a large body of research that shows the media tend to slant their coverage of things like crime and rising pregnancy rates in a way that blames young people. It's no wonder that the mainstream media has not covered Bush's proposal. A national student database might not be as sexy as out of control gangs or pregnant teenagers, but this proposal is a huge expansion of government power over students. It needs to be debated and discussed by the national media.
It is both surprising and disappointing that even media outlets that have education reporters have not covered the issue. For example, CNN.com has an education section on their website. There is nothing about the database on the front of the site and a search of the archives brings up no articles on the subject. The same is true for the New York Times. The database would have a huge impact on educational policy and it's simply shocking that the nation's top educational reporters are not writing about the issue.
Take a moment and write a letter to the New York Times, Washington Post, or your local media outlet. Ask them to cover this important issue and make sure the Bush Administration can't enact this policy without the public scrutiny it deserves. As always, be respectful and CC: any correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org.