The national media’s interest in the education realm has shifted from the topic of policy changes regarding the fiscal responsibility of students seeking higher education to the very different focus of the stimulus’ effect on the number of jobs in education. Less directly commentating on the livelihood of the actual education programs in the country, the abundance of education news articles hone in on the relationship between the stimulus money and the number of jobs created or saved in the education sector.

The New York Times covers the stimulus-education topic in the article, Schools Are Where Stimulus Saved Jobs, New Data Shows. This coverage of the issue is generally encouraging—highlighting the happy reality that the “best symbol of the $787 billion federal stimulus program turns out not to be a construction worker in a hard hat, but rather a classroom teacher saved from a layoff.” The very language in this opening line, using the word ‘saved,’ automatically suggests that the stimulus spending has been positive. Further, as ‘polioptics’ has proven to be a powerful influence in the media, the article visually sways the readers with an adorable photo. Directly above the text of the article, a picture depicting little children in costume at a California elementary school’s Halloween Parade serves to ally the reader with the positive message of the author: the stimulus has done a good job with saving and creating jobs in the education sector.

While the stimulus-supporting sentiment of the NYT article prevails as it highlights the claimed “640,239 jobs” created so far and, in doing so, aligns with the seeming liberal sway of the paper, the author takes care to warn readers halfway through the article to take the announced job figures “with a grain of salt.” Another article on politico.com, Saved or created? W.H. can’t tell, spends more time discussing the fact that the numbers of jobs claimed to be saved or created by the White House is not necessarily rooted in solid fact. Unlike the New York Times article, this coverage on politico jumps directly on the assertion that Obama and other public officials don’t really know what they’re talking about when they discuss specific numbers of salvaged jobs. The White House is made to look unsure and almost sloppy when the article toots the reality that “officials acknowledged they can’t tell the difference between jobs ‘saved’ and jobs ‘created’” by the stimulus, nor can they differentiate between “private sector jobs and government jobs.” The overall tone of this article is much more critical than that of the coverage in the NYT.

Again, though, we look to FoxNews to blatantly shoot down the positive aspects of the stimulus spending—on the television show, Hannity’s America, Hannity’s story, “Media Skeptical of White House Report on Stimulus Jobs,” focuses solely on the inaccuracy of the White House’s job estimate. By citing the AP news story, Stimulus jobs overcounted nationwide, Hannity highlights several instances where contractors over reported the number of jobs saved or created in their business to the government. His comments are overwhelmingly negative and accusatory; Hannity implies that the government’s spending has been minimally successful in its endeavor to create jobs and that there is no accurate way to actually count the saving or creating of employment opportunities. By claiming that the White House’s figures on this issue are wrong, Hannity instills doubt in his viewers by discounting the efforts of Obama and his administration.

The media’s take on this issue, involving the creation of jobs in the education sector as a result of stimulus spending, is somewhat split; news sources range from supportive to wholly disapproving of the funding and its influences. The less radical media sources, though, seem to take a somewhat cautious approach to coverage of this news… only FoxNews comes out to directly and entirely discredit the employment figures. It seems possible that the media is giving the White House a chance to figure out the numbers and come up with a more reliable system for tallying the changes in employment opportunities across the nation.

As the United States of America wades through the swamp of economic depression, many policies are being called into the national spotlight for reform; discussions dealing with budget adjustments, such as the debate regarding comprehensive yet affordable healthcare , are raging on among politicians and citizens alike.  Although not quite as outwardly tumultuous as the healthcare drama of late, the country is also grappling with the question of financial aid for higher education: who should be supplying funds to subsidize college tuitions, and how much should they be paying?

Since 1965, the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program has been the government’s answer to financial assistance for college-bound adults.  In mid-September, however, the House of Representatives passed the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, a piece of legislation which outlines more involved federal aid.  With this bill, the government plans to broaden federal aid for university students while revoking federal subsidies to private lenders.  This means that the government will essentially eliminate the ‘middleman’ that has mediated American students’ access to educational funds and loans: banks and money lenders.

The development and fruition of these new policies has been addressed and stressed by various media sources, liberal and conservative alike.  The New York Times’ article, House Passes Bill to Expand College Aid, is a straightforward account of the proceedings and considerations surrounding the movement to pass the financial aid legislature.  Focusing on the positive facets of the bill, the article mentions the fact that this direct loaning will ensure that students receive money for schooling, even when the economy is depressed—as a college student who receives financial aid, this sounds good.  Additionally, money will flood into supporting community college programs and early-childhood programs.  On top of all of that, the article highlights the Democrats’ claim that “student loan legislation would save enough to finance the new programs and still leave $10 billion to return to the Treasury”— is it too good to be true?  Quickly following the hopeful outlook for the bill, the NYT includes a differing, republican view from Representative John Kline: the decision to pursue this education bill is not about improvement, but about “expanding the size and scope of the federal government through tens of billions of dollars in new entitlement spending and the elimination of choice, competition, and the innovation of the private sector.”

The NYT coverage displays a fair range of opinion regarding the pros and cons of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, but it is one of the only explicitly factual accounts of the bill and what it involves; I found no other media source describing the details surrounding the new bill.  However, more polarized discussions of the shift toward direct government loans and bolstering of education funding may be found in other media sources….

An article on politico.com by Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, romanticizes the Obama administration’s endeavor to ‘take back education’ by lowering cost of tuition for college students and increasing the amount of money available for federal tuition grants.  The dramatic opening paragraph of Duncan’s “Moving college into the 21st century” compares Obama to the presidents famous for successful education reform, such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Harry Truman, aiming to emphasize Obama’s efforts to continue the improvement of America’s education system. His message stresses the president’s desire to encourage at least 5 million more Americans to enter into the higher education system in hopes that the US can regain its spot at the pinnacle of international education (which may be a struggle given the competition).  Does comparison to presidential greats mean that Obama’s plan will necessarily be as successful as education reforms in the past? Not necessarily.  It is interesting, though, to note that this type of overwhelmingly positive article is one of the only direct responses to the newly-passed bill in the media right now.  Perhaps the lack of criticism is simply not overwhelming at this point…

That being said, however, one inflammatory FOX snippet found in “The Cost of Freedom Recap” for Saturday, September 19th is far from supportive of the new Fiscal Aid Act; with a disclaimer at the start of the article that stresses that the following “contains strong opinions which are not a reflection of the opinions of FOX News,” one would be unwise to bet on finding overwhelming praise for any new policy.  That being said, the article rips apart the aid policy, labeling it as an effort to create a “cradle-to-college welfare state” and claiming that the “president’s heart [lies with] socialism.”  Now, there is something to be said for opposing points of view, but this provocative take on the Fiscal Policy in a time of economic crisis does not seem firmly rooted in rationality.

At this point, the movement to change the higher education financial policies in America is not dominating media coverage.  The more credible sources that are covering the reforms seem to be, however, generally liberal in nature.