Education reporters at major newspapers get bombarded with requests to cover studies, reports and surveys, so when they do choose to write a news story about one, they need to choose wisely. They also owe it to their readers to put surveys and studies in context—to explain what they really say, and what they don’t say, to be a little skeptical about how questions are phrased, or how representative the respondents really are.
Alas, this didn’t happen when the Washington Post’s education reporter made the decision to publish findings from a decidedly non-representative “poll” of the 2015 Teachers of the Year, described as a “small, but elite group of educators.”
Consider this lead paragraph:
The greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students have little to do with anything that goes on in the classroom, according to the nation’s top teachers: It is family stress, followed by poverty, and learning and psychological problems.
Consider this graphic: