Facts as Unfacts

Jul 6, 2017 by

A bare fact is barely truthful if it is accurate only as far as it goes but doesn’t go far enough. If anything is left out, then the fact is no longer whole even if it remains indisputable for propaganda purposes.

The Department of Education has an arsenal of such facts. They are useful in perpetuating myths, yet nobody can argue against them on their face.  Thus the naked truth is dressed in the suave suit of illegitimacy.

It’s a fact that student suspension rates have plummeted.  It’s a fact that drop-out rates have fallen and graduation rates have risen. It’s a fact that fewer students are held over in grade because of educational failure and summer school rolls will accordingly nose-dive. It’s a fact that there’s been a dramatic downturn in the number of confiscated weapons and reported student violence has tumbled.

It’s a fact that the rate of promotion is in an upwards trajectory, there is a more appropriate balance of students in special programs and test scores have climbed.

Advanced placement eligibility has blossomed and “professional development” has flowered.

The DOE’s “facts” have an adhesive quality that sticks to the tongues of self-serving bureaucrats taking bows.

No doubt the DOE can cite dozens of additional areas in which facts will bear out their faux-feats. The DOE advertises more rosy facts about their recovery and elevation than there were poppies in Flanders Field.

They’ve got the metrics, the “optics” and the jargon. Employees whose titles carry the expectation of total loyalty have memorized the DOE’s “bullet-points” and will dutifully recite and “turnkey” them.

Its bullet-points have pierced the memories of countless fanatical bureaucrats in their legal and publicity departments who will dutifully recite and “turnkey” these ersatz “facts” at press conferences or otherwise on command.

The DOE’s educational spaceship is en route to the sun. It will land on a shady bed of lettuce and its own version of”facts.” It is being propelled by a fast and loose fuel.

In their recent successful appeal for an extension of mayoral control of the schools, that took effect in 2002,  Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina cited innumerable sectors of progress in our city’s public schools.

They proudly and with conviction cited “facts” to refute their critics. The mayor, in his own defense, sounded almost like Bob Sheppard, the Yankees announcer for half a century. The facts speak for themselves, he wanted skeptics to believe.

But gone are the days that facts speak for themselves. They are given voice by ventriloquists who throw the truth. They bend with the wind and are vessels of selective evidence. They are not free-standing edifices. They lean to a side.

So when the DOE releases its fact-finding about its skirmishes on the education/political front, remember they are only “facts” and not necessarily real. And that’s a fact!

Ron Isaac

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