Op-Ed: Journalism Without Trust, the Voucher Debate

July 12, 2017

HAS THE TRUTH become just a detail? The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette recently stepped over the line of protected opinion into either purposeful deception or self-serving carelessness.

Discussing vouchers, a July 2 editorial was set under the shock-and-awe headline, “Evidence Casts Doubt on Voucher Education.” It said that a local educator wasn’t surprised by a study “showing that voucher students who transferred from Indiana public schools to private schools lost ground in math achievement.”

Fortunately, the study, by Mark Berends of the University of Notre Dame and Joseph Waddington of the University of Kentucky, was read in full by editors at the Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt under their quite different headline, “New Evidence on School Vouchers; Some Optimistic Findings from Indiana and Louisiana”:

“The study found that students using vouchers had declines in math and English for the first two years after leaving public school. But the longer these voucher students stuck around in their new schools, the better they did — surpassing their public school peers in English after four years. These studies are important in rebutting what has been an especially aggressive campaign this year against vouchers by unions and liberal journalists.” 

There is no need to waste sympathy on persons willingly subscribed to a newspaper of the Journal Gazette’s bent but at least they deserve a rough outline of the topics of discussion, education reform being surely among them.

In this case, the headline would have read, “Mixed Results on Impact of the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program.”

It’s not sexy but at least a stab at the truth, once the measure of a newspaper.

— Craig Ladwig


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