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Daily Howler: Has Arlington County super-achieved? Why not check basic data?
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FOR THOSE WHO WOULD READ AHEAD! Has Arlington County super-achieved? Why not check basic data? // link // print // previous // next //

Returning tomorrow: We’ve been called away on a mission of international importance, involving a major Canadian concern. This interrupts our “Back-to-school week” schedule. But we’ll proceed with Part 3 tomorrow.

For those who would read ahead:

Tomorrow’s post, “Easy to believe,” will in part concern this column by the Post’s Jay Mathews—a column which appeared on October 26. We were struck by several of Jay’s claims and presentations. He was nice enough to respond to e-mailed questions about them. (As some may recall, we happen to share “the old school system tie” with Jay.)

For a later post in our “Back-to-school” series, which will now extend past Wednesday: We were very much struck by Jay’s column in yesterday’s Post, in which he heaped praise on Robert Smith, outgoing superintendent of schools in Arlington County (Virginia), a DC suburban county. (Jay seems to recommend Smith to be Obama’s secretary of education.) Our question: Does Smith have a remarkable record when it comes to achievement rates of black and Hispanic students? Jay sure makes it sound that way. But uh-oh! Relevant data—for the past three years only—can be teased from this page on the Virginia state education site. (Scroll down to “School Division Report Cards.” Enter Arlington County; click to page 3 of 26. Compare the county’s achievement rates to those of the state as a whole.) More generally, obvious questions are raised by the way Jay reports the rise in Arlington County’s various passing rates, without comparing the data to the rise in passing rates statewide. Does it matter if conclusions like the ones in this piece are well-founded? Or when it comes to public schools, do we just like to feel good? (We’ve been asking these questions for decades.)

Our first reaction? It defies comprehension that columns like this appear so commonly at the very top of our journalism. Now that the election is done, it’s time to head back to school—fast.

Sad but true: Keith Olbermann returned to the wars last night. Here’s how the big galoot began:

OLBERMANN (11/24/08): Which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow?

Geithner to Treasury, the controversial Summers to the White House Economic Council—Obama`s economic team already running even before it hits the ground.

As Citigroup is bailed out and the auto industry cuts back even on private jets to get the same, the watchword remains "stimulus.”

OBAMA (videotape): We have a consensus, which is pretty rare, between conservative economists and liberal economists that we need a big stimulus package that will jolt the economy back into shape.

OLBERMANN: $700 billion more? OK, I was off for a week. Anybody make a joke yet about “a big stimulus package?”

No—just you. Sad but true, we thought (some) parts of last evening’s show went downhill even from there.

As Moses asks God the Father in the old joke: “Did we come here to play some golf? Or are we just gonna f*ck around?”