Well all tend to see what we want to see, to confirm our biases, to select our facts to suit our purposes. Political right wingers seem to be particularly prone to constructing their own reality in this way. Take John Armstrong on the subject of charter schools, for example. Saturday last week he reported:
Charter school trials to take place across the country
The trialling of Act’s controversial plan to set up autonomous charter schools is now likely to take in poor towns and suburbs across the country, rather than being restricted to south Auckland and Christchurch.
This Saturday it was:
Softly, softly – Act’s subtle school tactic
The trial of two or more such schools – an Act-driven initiative which has National’s tacit blessing – could herald the most significant change in compulsory education since the Tomorrow’s Schools reforms of the late 1980s and the introduction of NCEA a decade or so later.
“Two or more such schools”? It’s going to be more, lots more, if the trials are to take place “in poor towns and suburbs across the country”. Armstrong is trying to downplay the risks of this large scale, and very unfortunate experiment. To do so of course he has to (as the PM so often does) denigrate the science that he wants to ignore:
Opponents of charter schools have already called in the heavy artillery in the form of a 101-page report produced by a clutch of Massey University education academics who have assessed the success or otherwise of overseas examples of charter schools.
A “clutch” of academics eh John? Your prejudice showing much? And they weren’t “called in” by anyone, they’re just doing their job.
The report might have been a valuable contribution to the debate. But any claim to objectivity was undermined by the authors’ obvious disdain for charter schools, which many on the left see as an abdication of the state’s responsibility to provide adequate schooling and a sell-out to profit-driven corporates.
What John means is that the report might have been a valuable contribution to the debate if it had confirmed his prejudices instead of confronting them. So he has to write the report off as biased. Typical right-wing willful ignorance (how unfortunate for them that “Reality has a well-known liberal bias”). Anyway – make up your own minds. A Massey University press release on the report is here, and the report itself is here.
Swaying public opinion to the extent necessary for the concept of charter schools to survive a change of government is a very tall order. But it is not one the Act pair will shy away from
Always supposing there is still an ACT Party next week of course.