Blog: The Educated Reporter
Justin Pope at the Associated Press has been doing terrific work on for-profit colleges. On the face of it, it looks like they have an incentive to take lots of low-income students (and their associated aid) even if they have little chance of succeeding. Which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your perspective.
Major-league kudos to Michael Miner at the Chicago Reader, who writes about the culture of fear in that city’s school system that shuts out reporters—and, by virtue, the public. Reporters around the country tell me it has gotten worse for them, nowhere moreso than in districts led by big-shot reformers.
You looked! Really, do I need any more title than that?
The recent MTV/Associated Press poll on teens and technology asked people ages 14 to 24 a very specific question: whether somebody had ever sent them, on their phone or computer, naked pictures of themselves. Eighteen percent of respondents said that had happened. I would say this is not specifically “sexting,” which semantically would refer to phones only.
I love what Geoffrey Canada is doing with the Harlem Children’s Zone: addressing simultaneously the school factors and non-school factors that so deeply disadvantage poor, inner-city children. (Yes, it doesn’t have to be—it cannot be—either/or.) But just as much as I love the project, I hate the misuse of statistics. Thanks to Aaron Pallas at GothamSchools for calling out an overstatement of the HCZ schools’ success.
Everybody and their mother has been bemoaning the decline of education journalism, with their eye trained on the journalists themselves. (Almost always the reporters. But of course my natural instinct leads elsewhere: blame editors! Reporters know national context is important; they are dying to cover the beat with breadth and depth. You think they are begging to cover Obama’s speech or a lunchroom brawl?) Anyway, we get it.
This blog is not—I repeat, not—a place to air my personal gripes. But would someone please write a story about how practically no pediatricians in the D.C. area (and probably elsewhere) who take insurance are also taking new patients? Unless they are newborns, which I have on good authority is a totally arbitrary distinction. After all, if you are not adding patients because you are busy, why do you make an exception for the patients who need to see you every month?
I am totally willing to be your lead anecdote.
I usually am not big on think tank panel discussions, but today’s Brookings event on the purported decline of education journalism could not have been more in my wheelhouse. To have missed it would have been like Lindsay Lohan telling Tara Reid that no, thank you, she doesn’t feel like joining her for an absinthe binge in her hotel room.
Nearly a decade ago, only a few months into George W. Bush’s first term as president, Nicholas Lemann wrote a really interesting New Yorker piece about how No Child Left Behind evolved and the key players behind it. He focused especially on mastermind Sandy Kress, whom we would learn a lot more about in the Texas Observer years later.
Two of the most common frustrations I hear from new education reporters is that they have trouble coming up with story ideas, and they have trouble building up real-people sources. “Do you get into schools?” I ask, and they say they do—for formal events. Which doesn’t get you much. Here’s my tried-and-true strategy for school visits that result in story ideas, goodwill and a big fat Rolodex. (Or Google contact list—you know what I mean.)