Rant-O'-The-Day: Sunday morning talk shows could easily be replaced by campaign ads


At first I was too angry to rant about this in print and even called Paddy to tell her that. Instead I ranted at poor Paddy who agreed with every seething word. That Moment of Utter and Complete Exasperation was the result of exposing myself to a few minutes of "This Week" and "Face the Nation" after which I had to switch off the Tee Vee machine in order to regain my sanity and lower my blood pressure. I haven't turned it back on yet.

I'm now ready to rant in print.

I watched as the hyperventilating moderators failed to ask follow-up questions or challenge obvious lies and misinformation. I screamed at my TV as even the guests themselves (on both sides) did nothing but stick to their talking points and/or misinformation instead of listening and responding to each other in order to actually respect viewers enough to educate them or clarify their points of view.

Fact checking would be novel.

But instead of developing a thought and taking the time to offer details to support an assertion or accusation, Democratic and Republican spokesparrots stubbornly spit out what they thought sold their idea, and viewers ingest this junk talk the way petulant children ingest Happy Meals from lazy parents.

Come on, at least acquaint voters with something other than a headline. Give us a little credit for being able to digest reasoned (and reasonable) debate and make up our minds accordingly.

Re "Teaching, and testing, smarter," Opinion, Aug. 3

Arthur Levine compares testing students once a year to having a car GPS update its position once an hour instead of constantly. In the GPS part, he forgets the driver and assumes he ignores road and street signs. In the student part, he forgets the teacher, assuming she has no idea of what her pupils have learned.

Any competent teacher knows how her students are progressing throughout the year. Standardized testing cannot determine this; only a teacher is in a position to make this assessment.

Levine says the emphasis in public education has moved from teaching to learning; it should move to educating, as only then can a child's full potential be realized.

Laurie Pane



"Teaching to the test" is an educational practice where curriculum is heavily focused on preparing for a standardized test.

Opponents of such practices argue that implementation forces teachers to limit curriculum to a set range of knowledge or skills in order to increase student performance on the mandated test. This produces an unhealthy focus on excessive repetition of simple, isolated skills ("drill and kill") and limits the teacher's ability to focus on a holistic understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, opponents argue, teachers who engage in it are typically below-average teachers.[1]

Some research suggests that teaching to the test is ineffective and often does not achieve its primary goal of raising student scores.[1]

Sunday talkers have been reduced to teaching to the test. We're the students and we are being force fed the limited curriculum from our media teachers who have only one goal in mind: winning. Our final exams consist of check marks on ballots. And by the looks of our current Congress, we're scoring low.

Critical thinking skills are being phased out in favor of repetition of those "simple, isolated" talking points, regardless of the questions asked by a moderator or challenges by political opponents. Pivoting and propaganda have replaced explanation and enlightening.

We're better than this. Or at least, we used to be.

Sunday talk shows have devolved into nothing more than infomercials, campaign ads that drum catch phrases, political invective, and focus-group-tested sales pitches into our homes ad nauseam.

That's not talk, it's hype. Hot air is what's on the air. Learning is passé, communication is being replaced by communiqué, and we as a nation are being dumbed down. Looks like we'll have to resort to independent study.