Fact-checking the president
Journalists hold Biden accountable at joint address to Congress
President Joe Biden’s address to Congress called for massive public investment into the economy — up to $4 trillion to re-build infrastructure and support working families. To pay for his plan, Biden proposed to raise taxes on Americans making more than $400,000 per year.
And, like every president in recent memory, Biden stretched the truth, exaggerated and made vague statements.
FactCheck.org has this round-up.
The Washington Post fact-checker also held Biden accountable.
President proposes free community college and preschool
During his speech, Biden proposed that the traditional 13-year free public school commitment (K-12) to Americans be expanded by four years — two years of pre-K and two years of community college.
“Research shows, when a young child goes to school — not day care — they’re far more likely to graduate from high school and go to college or something after high school,” Biden said. “When you add two years of free community college on top of that, you begin to change the dynamic. We can do that. And we’ll increase Pell Grants and invest in historical Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges, minority serving institutions.”
Biden’s wife, Jill, is a professor at a community college.
Here’s what you can do
The plan for free community college will obviously offset some of the rising costs that students and their parents pay for community college. And if Biden’s infrastructure plan makes it through Congress and becomes law, there should be lots of jobs for which a traditional four-year college education isn’t needed.
What do your peers think about this expansion? Would some feel relieved that there might be jobs that don’t require college or that at least two years of college would be free? How soon might this happen? Are there enough community colleges in your area or state to handle what might be a massive increase in community college enrollment?
This feels like a fundamental re-shaping of our education system. How do your school’s faculty and administration feel about the plans?
Supremes hear cheerleader case
U.S. high court ponders if school can punish student for a social media post
Supreme Court justices heard arguments Wednesday in the case B.L. v. Mahanoy, in which a student who was denied a spot on her varsity cheerleading team was booted from her junior varsity squad because she cursed out the school on social media.
Here’s a link to an audio story from Public News Service explaining the case. Here’s a link to the Student Press Law Center’s explanation of the case. Here’s an NPR podcast called “Mean Girls Meet the Supreme Court.”
And finally, here’s video of the entire two-hour argument from Wednesday.
Here’s what you can do
Student journalists need to be covering this story, primarily as news, but also as opinion, should you choose.
This could be one of the most important cases the U.S. Supreme Court will hear regarding student speech rights since 1988’s Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier.
In other words, should the Supreme Court later this summer overturn the lower court’s ruling and uphold the school’s right to punish students for off-campus speech, students in public schools, especially, will have to watch what they write about school officials and others no matter the forum, no matter where the speech may take place.
Full disclosure: Quill and Scroll signed on as a “friend of the court” on the side of B.L., the student who was punished for her social media activity.
Fake news, times three
Photo by Monika Kubala via Unsplash
Where’s the ‘beef ban’?
Sheesh. We work so hard to defend journalism against those who say we are in the business to promote a political agenda, and then this happens — some news outlets are pushing a political agenda.
First, it was the “beef ban” that was allegedly a part of the Biden administration’s plan to fight global climate change. Donald Trump Jr. and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott spent much of their weekend tweeting and speaking out against an imaginary issue first “reported” by The Daily Mail, a right-wing news outlet based in the United Kingdom.
There. Is. No. Beef. Ban.
Reporter claims NY post forced her to write false story about VP
Also late last week, the New York Post — which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, whose family also runs Fox News — published a story claiming that the U.S. government was handing out Vice President Kamala Harris’ children’s book “Superheroes Are Everywhere” to unaccompanied minors at the border as part of a “welcome” kit for those children, and as part of a larger plot to indoctrinate the children into loving Democrats.
The proof appeared to be a single picture in which the book was visible on a cot in a detention center.
The reporter quit her job this week, claiming that the Post forced her to write a story that spun the false narrative. The truth? Yes, that was the VP’s book on the bed, but it was just one book, and it was donated to the center by a local humanitarian organization.
There. Was. No. Plot.
Virginia is not rolling back advanced high school math
And, finally, a story first published on Foxnews.com claimed that in the interest of “equity,” the Virginia Department of Education was eliminating advanced match classes in the commonwealth.
Fortunately, the Washington Post followed the story by reporting that Virginia is simply reviewing its math requirements and curricula, and that it definitely will not eliminate advanced classes and force all students in a particular grade to take the same class.
There. Is. No. Plan.
Here’s what you can do
These are just the latest attempts to get people outraged in our ongoing “Culture Wars” in the U.S. Everything in our lives, it seems, has become a political tennis match, with a net separating one set of beliefs from another, and never the twain shall meet, no matter how insignificant or fabricated the claims may be.
And unfortunately, despite both stories having been easily and quickly debunked by ethical media and fact-checkers, too many Americans believe both stories to be true.
Are there misconceptions that students — left, right, center — have about the world that just aren’t true? Can you survey students about what they think they know about hot-button “culture war” issues such as the climate, voting rights, film standards, etc.? And then do you have the time to help de-bunk common misperceptions?
Google Fact Check Explorer can help, as can Checkology by the News Literacy Project.
If so, you’ll provide a great service to your school and your community. And you’ll be doing great journalism.
New Mask Rules
CDC comes out with guidance for going outdoors and being in crowds — if you’re vaxxed
The Centers for the Disease Control this week announced new guidelines that tell fully vaccinated people that they are safe to gather outdoors in small groups without having to wear masks. However, the CDC still suggests masks outdoors for unvaccinated people and for all people who are gathering in large groups, such as at sporting events.
Here’s what you can do
The stories here seem to be relatively obvious. What are your school’s and/or school district’s policies regarding outdoor activities and sporting events? Will everyone be allowed to attend? Will football and soccer stadiums be full this fall? Will sports such as wrestling and volleyball be able to compete outside if that’s safer for students and the weather cooperates (meaning it’s not too hot in the South, or too cold in the north)?