Meanwhile, the media’s coverage of education issues remains less than inspiring. In a Wall Street Journal article, Rupert Murdoch actually suggested that we might turn to American Idol for inspiration. It has higher performance standards for pop stars, he said, than educators do for public-school children.

To be honest, nobody has zeroed in more sharply on the emptiness of such coverage than comedian Lewis Black on The Daily Show. “Ah, fall,” he intoned in a recent segment. “That magical time when we spend one or two weeks pretending we’re actually going to do something about the condition of our schools.” He then cut to a clip of David Gregory, host of NBC’s Meet the Press, providing his own DIY recipe for school reform: “If you drive by a public school, even if your kids don’t go there, walk in, and ask what you can do to help.”

It’s enough to make me cry.

Click here for a complete Page Views archive.

If you'd like to get email from CJR writers and editors, add your email address to our newsletter roll and we'll be in touch.

LynNell Hancock is the H. Gordon Garbedian Professor of Journalism at Columbia, and director of the school's Spencer Fellowship in Education Journalism.