I’ve previously complained about the New York Times’ coverage and opinion regarding higher ed, which it treats more as a culture and lifestyle choice than as a critical social concern and economic enterprise. Moreover, it has drifted to the right on K-12 education, delivering soft coverage of charter schools, union busters like Michelle Rhee and Democratic proponents of education as drill instruction like Arne Duncan.
But Tamar Lewin’s recent piece, Study Shows Rise in Average Borrowing By Students, takes a step in the right direction.
Faced with the task of covering an aggressively-spun white paper by higher-ed trade association The College Board (representing “5,600 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations”) purporting to show that most undergraduate loan debt is “manageable”–Lewin notes the spin job by leading with the data that the PR flacks at the College Board are trying to conceal: median debt jumped 5% over inflation and 10% of bachelors graduate owing $40,000 or more.
Lewin goes on to place this propaganda in the appropriate critical context, noting that the median bachelor’s debt of $20,000 “does not include parents’ borrowing, credit-card debt, informal loans from relatives or friends, or loans for graduate school.” Additionally, the online version of the story was surrounded with relevant testimony from the victims of the College Board’s membership, as well as analysis and dialogue.
There’s a lot more to say on this score, as I’ve already pointed out in my detailed response to recent coverage by Robin Wilson.
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