Blog: The Educated Reporter

March Madness, Renaming NCLB

Kristina Baskett competes on bars, University of Utah Women's Gymnastics. (Flickr/lemonjenny)

While we can’t do anything about your dismal bracket selections, EWA can help reporters with story ideas for covering “March Madness” and college sports. Catch a replay of our recent webinar, which highlighted some smart ideas, the latest research, and expert sources on the intersection of higher education and athletics. 

And there’s plenty of college sports reporting that goes beyond the hoops. The New York Times featured the University of Utah women’s gymnastics team, a Division I competitive powerhouse, which packs in crowds that rival some professional leagues. (I was impressed to learn the team also leads the nation in its strong academic performance, as well.)

But as Terrance Ross writes for The Atlantic, college sports hasn’t made much progress in at least one important area: parity for the women who are players and coaches. You’ll want to look at the charts and data (his fine work is here):

The raw data that does exist demonstrates just how glaring some of the gender-based gaps in pay and prestige are. But even more telling, perhaps, are some of the policies that adversely (though probably unintentionally) affect those involved in female athletics.

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There are good ideas, and there are great ideas. This little bit of brilliance from Education Week — an automated generator that lets you choose a name for the next iteration of No Child Left Behind —  falls firmly in the latter category.  

While it’s easy to joke about some of the mock titles offered by the generator (“The E for Effort Act”, anyone?) it highlights the very real problem that comes with rebranding the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Back in 2011, I asked Eugene Hickok, an early and outspoken champion of No Child Left Behind, whether the legislation’s proponents had ever considered setting the bar a little lower. Here’s what Hickok, former deputy secretary of education under President George W. Bush, told me: 

The analogy we used at the time was why we don’t try to get a man to the moon by 70 percent. Or let’s send him to the moon, but let’s not worry about getting him back.  Politically, there’s just no alternative. You can’t say let’s get 90 percent of our kids to be successful and write off 10 percent.



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