Look behind the curtain

As someone who tries to teach students about evidence, support, reasoning, etc., stuff like this just makes me mad, and I”m not sure if it’s because the cartoonist is ignorant of basic background information and economics, or because he thinks hisĀ  readers are that ignorant, or because he’s right. (I’m sure he’s right a lot, I’m just not sure how right).

The cartoon is correct as far as it goes, but it leaves out a key point, a point that would establish whatever blame there is in this more accurately.

Even if you didn’t know about the Community Reinvestment Act (which we’ll consider in a moment), a little bit of thinking based on what’s presented here should bring you to a different conclusion than the cartoonist implies, and it’s contained in this statement: “And taxpayers with no connection to the bank had to pay all the money to fix it.”

The eye-opening question should be: “Why?” To expand a little bit, “Why did the taxpayers have to fix it?” Because they told the banker ahead of time through their congresscritters that they would. Continue reading “Look behind the curtain”

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Separating evidence and interpretation

This is for both speech and journalism students. People sometimes have trouble separating evidence from the conclusions drawn from that evidence. Here’s a great example. Recently a study in Wisconsin, which has had a school voucher program in place for a while, found “parity” between representative samples of both public school and voucher-funded private school students. (That means they performed about the same grade-wise.) I don’t know how long the link will remain live, but right now you can read a newspaper story at the Journal-Sentinel.

Even though the researchers have repeatedly warned of the dangers of basing too much on the results of one study, media and politicians seem to have jumped on the results, with all claiming it supports whatever their position is.

Opponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “See! See! Private schools aren’t doing it any better. So we can finally just drop all this voucher nonsense and keep doing things the way we were.”

Proponents of school vouchers are saying, in essence, “Let me get this straight. The private schools are achieving the same results as public schools while costing a third less, a savings of several thousand dollars per student. How is it again that this proves vouchers are a bad idea? I don’t get it.”

This alone should help students understand why persuasion must go well beyond simply piling up facts.

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