Blog: The Educated Reporter
One day not long ago, I met up, separately, with reporters from two very different publications that cover the same city school system. One is a big, traditional newspaper, and the other is a small, young website. Competition is something all journalists are familiar with and to some extent thrive on, but talking to these two types of reporters, new issues revealed themselves.
As a policy lever, I am very interested in Race to the Top; as a horse race, less so. Still, I am finding it intriguing to watch how many districts are not signing on to state attempts for the funds. I understand their apprehension but don’t get it on a practical level; state education policies and laws are going to change whether or not they formally buy in.
Arizona annoys me for many reasons. One is that everything is monochromatic. My parents’ homeowners association allows 14 house colors, but each is indistinguishable from the other (Sandy Beige! Beigey Sand!). Another is that it is so hard to find a gas station in the desert that my husband and I almost left my son an orphan on the way to Vegas. There is also a lunatic sheriff. Worst of all is that the state pretends to help poor children while really just making it easier for those who can afford private school to continue to do so. (A voucher by any other name smells just as sweet.)
This month’s Atlantic has a lot for education reporters, though given that I usually read it online, I was shocked that the actual magazine costs seven bucks! Given that I was captive in an airport, the money was well spent.
>I can’t remember if I promised in my introductory post never to write about reality TV, but after imploring college journalists this weekend to be picky about quotes—half the ones most new writers (and some old ones) include should be paraphrased or cut—I could not resist the opportunity to highlight a truly outstanding use of a quote.
When I moved back to D.C. this fall, I subscribed to the Washington Post. It had been a while since I subscribed to a paper, since I never fully integrated into Baltimore and before that worked at the Post and read the paper in the office. I was happy to subscribe, to do my part to support the product and my friends. But by the time I get the paper in the morning, I have usually read everything I want to read online.
Daniel Golden at Bloomberg News did a good job, in Business Week, digging into the money online for-profit universities are making off of military students. He focuses especially on the aggressive recruiting practices; I wish he would have shown more, though, about why and how the education the soldiers are receiving falls short, since that is the underlying theme.
Time magazine interviews Kevin Carey on college accountability—a subject I’m swimming in at the moment as I help run a very cool (well, fortunately we’re in Phoenix, so it is not too cool) conference for student journalists. Anyway, Kevin has a great line, when asked if colleges think they cannot be compared because each believes it is a beautiful, unique snowflake: “The thing about snowflakes is that they’re all small, they’re all white, and they’re all cold.
I liked this piece by Kate Zernike in the New York Times last week, about that whole “What are you going to do with your degree?” issue. I liked it just as much eight months ago when Joan Garrett, at the Chattanooga Times Free Press, took on the slow death of liberal arts at a more micro level, in the University of Tennessee system.
I never thought President Obama appointed Arne Duncan education secretary because he had done wonders in Chicago. Rather, he was a politically savvy choice whose approaches Obama approved of. Anyone who paid attention to Chicago media during Duncan’s tenure would have known that there was no consensus on the effectiveness of his reforms, except to say results were mixed. (Which seems to be the best you can say for any urban superintendent of the last decade, and anyway, who was the last education secretary who went into the job having had reformed a horrid system?)
When I look back at 2009, my first thought is: What a bad year for the Academy to name ten Best Picture nominees!