BY SHARON MARTIN
The headline read, “Virginia man gets seven years in prison for stealing Obama’s teleprompter.” What the man had actually stolen was a Ford pickup that belonged to the White House. The truck, filled with audio-visual equipment, was parked near a venue where the president was scheduled to speak.
The thief, Eric Brown, admitted that he targeted heavy Ford pickups because “they were easy to steal.”
Brown has been convicted of 36 crimes in the past 30 years. That piece of information was missing from several of the news articles about the theft.
And Brown’s own admissions didn’t stop conservative bloggers from crying foul for the length of the sentence. Seven years may be too long for the theft of a teleprompter.
But is it too long a sentence for running a car-theft ring? And whatever happened to three strikes and you’re out?
News can be distorted with well-worded headlines and the omission of facts. Real readers have to ask questions. They have to consider the inconsistencies and look farther.
The responses in this case are a good example of what happens when we ditch reading specialists in schools, and when we substitute fill-in-the-blank for critical reading.
When schools fail, political hucksters find it much easier to spread lies and disinformation. Where are the lobbyists that advocate for reading specialists? Where are the teachers that just say no to fill-in-the-bubble?
Writers have the right to free speech; they even have the right to lie. We must provide a counter with the right and the ability to think for one’s self. Public schools must give students the tools to deal with liars.
It’s time for teachers and parents to rise up. It’s time for the people of America to wise up. We need real school reform that doesn’t enrich testing companies and private corporations but that enriches the lives of students and gives them the tools they need to live free of manipulation.
– Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer