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Wise Words on Media Bias and School Choice

Many of us remember Bob Schuster as an editor for the East Valley Tribune. Bob is retired, but he is offering some sage advice to the current generation of writers and editors at the Arizona Republic. In a letter to the editor, Bob takes the Republic to task for the way it is covering the school choice issue and an apparent bias in favor of school choice opponents.

Here is that letter as it appears in the Republic:

The media are showing their biases again in schools debate

By Bob Schuster, Mesa

Could we please get more even-handed coverage of Proposition 305, the school voucher referendum on the November ballot?

If the editorial board opposes the expansion of school choice to parents who prefer a private education for their children – including at religious-based schools – then please keep those opinions where they belong: on your Editorial pages.

Instead, we’re greeted by regular diatribes on page 3 – a “news” page – by Laurie Roberts decrying “dark money bazillionaires” wanting to rob public schools of badly needed dollars to help fat cats send their kids to fat cat private schools.

Then on another “news” page, reporter Yvonne Wingett Sanchez tells us that Save Our Schools, which is trying hard to kill Prop. 305, is a “grassroots” group.

Sounds like David versus Goliath.

Actually, there are several Goliaths on each side, just as there are lots of “grassroots” regular folks on each side.

Gov. Ducey long has advocated expanding school choice in Arizona, and it’s not surprising he has close ties with the Koch brothers, who also back school choice and have the deep pockets that help sell the school-choice message.

It’s also not surprising that the public-school establishment, which sees school choice as a threat, has some deep-pockets advocacy groups on its side – namely the two big teachers’ unions and the Democratic Party.

Those are among the special-interest groups funding Save Our Schools, as anyone who bothers to go to the SOS website will see.

There are plenty of regular folks on each side as well, a fact that seems to be overlooked or ignored by Roberts and Wingett Sanchez.

There have always been many low-and middle-class families that sacrifice financially to send their kids to private schools – especially religious-based schools. Arizona’s private-school scholarship tax credit has lightened that financial load on those families, and Prop. 305 would lighten it further.

Those of us who support Prop. 305 see that as simply fair. And we wish that the news coverage of this important issue would be fair as well.


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