Edward Cohn

Recent Articles

Devil in the Details

THE GLASS TRAIL This year's hottest political fiction isn't in paperback. As anyone familiar with Beltway journalism knows by now, the New Republic fired associate editor Stephen Glass in May after Forbes Digital Tool uncovered extensive fabrications in one piece. Since then, TNR has disclosed that 27 of Glass's 41 articles for the magazine were at least partially products of his vivid imagination. What hasn't been widely noted is that before joining TNR , Glass was an assistant editor at the Heritage Foundation's Policy Review . There he cultivated his ardent free market views, writing such articles as "Happy Meals: When Lunch Subsidies are Chopped, Kids Eat Better" and "A Pension Deficit Disorder: Teacher Unions Betray Their Members." Howard Kurtz, media columnist for the Washington Post , has reported that an incident Glass described in a Policy Review piece -- a supposed speech at a graveside in praise of privatized Social Security -- never happened. Apparently, the people Glass...

Devil in the Details

Hanging with Bill Bradley and Dr. J; Green Republicans; Vouchers in Wisconsin; Marketwatch.

Marketwatch: Teaching Products "If it can't be grown, it has to be mined." This slogan is the centerpiece of a "Teacher Helper" packet on earth science produced by the Mineral Information Institute (MII), a nonprofit organization founded by several mining companies and trade groups to distribute free classroom materials to schools nationwide. Did you know that over its lifetime, a baby will need 579,655 pounds of coal? Or that "[w]hen a mine is finished, it will be reclaimed so it can be used again, either by man or by nature"? MII even offers teachers a special deal: Show your class the video Common Ground: Modern Mining and You, ask your students to write stories or draw pictures related to mining, bring those projects to a local mining center, and you'll receive $100 for your classroom. MII brags that over 27,000 teachers receive its materials. MII is just one of the many organizations that produce corporate "sponsored educational materials," or SEMsclassroom materials designed by...

The Resurrection of Michael Milken

Late last summer, the organizers of an annual convention called TechLearn '99 announced that two of the most famous icons of the 1980s would keynote the event. The first was Bill Cosby, one of the decade's most popular entertainers; the second was Michael R. Milken, the "junk bond king" who became a symbol of the decade's greed when he was sentenced to prison for securities fraud. Until recently, Milken's presence on the stage with Cosby would have seemed like a bizarre joke. But that juxtaposition is just one sign of an amazing comeback. When Milken was sentenced to prison on November 21, 1990, he was one of the most reviled men in America. But today, nearly a decade later, the 53-year-old Milken is everywhere. A survivor of cancer, he is the founder and chairman of CaP CURE (the Association for the Cure of Cancer of the Prostate) and the author of a best-selling cookbook featuring recipes for fighting cancer; he has also expanded the Milken Family Foundation, a philanthropic venture...

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong , by James W. Loewen. The New Press, 480 pages, $26.95. In Lies Across America , James Loewen offers 100 short essays, each one discussing an individual monument or historic site and the inaccuracies in its portrayal of the past. He criticizes the way the birthplace of Helen Keller, for example, celebrates her life story as a blandly optimistic account of triumph over adversity and ignores entirely her career as a leading proponent of socialism, feminism, and civil rights. A former University of Vermont professor, Loewen made a stir in 1995 with Lies My Teacher Told Me , an account of distortions and biases in history textbooks. In Lies Across America , his approach is sometimes whimsical and sometimes deadly serious. He notes that the only white woman commemorated by an Indiana state historical marker was a "pioneer heroine of abdominal surgery," memorialized because her ovary had been removed. He also discusses a memorial...

Selling Higher Test Scores

I t's hard to imagine the nation's students profiting from the latest fad in education policy, the new mania for high-stakes testing; but commercial businesses already are. Consider what's happening in Massachusetts. In 1993 the state enacted a sweeping education reform plan whose centerpiece is the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), a series of grueling exams for students in the fourth, eighth, and tenth grades. Starting with this year's sophomores, no Massachusetts public school student will be able to graduate from high school without passing the exam, and decisions on promotion at lower grade levels will often depend on MCAS results. The attendant anxiety has created a ready market for Kaplan, the company best known for helping high schoolers prepare for the SAT. So far, it has published two guides to the MCAS for elementary and middle-school students and their families, and more are to come. These guides include tips on everything...

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