Blog: The Educated Reporter
Sorry—I had a really hard time coming up with a title.
When finalists were announced for the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education, I did not give much thought to the inclusion of Montgomery County, Md. I did not give much thought to any of the finalists, really. But today I saw the video on the Montgomery County Public Schools website—I covered MCPS for the Post years ago and check in there from time to time—that highlighted the Broad visit and couldn’t help but laugh when I saw the officials at Julius West Middle School.
Emily Gersema of the Arizona Republic has given some welcome context to the discussion about ethnic studies classes in Tucson. We learn why the classes were created in the first place, and a history of concerns about them. Emily gives a little sense of what actually is and is not studied, and I hope she or someone else follows up on this, exploring curriculum materials, assignments, class discussion and the makeup of the classes.
I have always told reporters that if they just look at the dropout problem through the prism of high school, they are missing out. Same goes for educators. Dropouts are made long before teenagers actually stop showing up at school. So I was glad to see Greg Toppo of USA Today write about a Philadelphia middle school that sees dropout prevention as its mission.
At the EWA conference last week I told someone I would send them the link to my favorite piece of journalism ever. Of course I have forgotten who. So, whoever you were—and even if you are not them—read this piece, “The Peekaboo Paradox,” by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post. It is about a children’s birthday party entertainer. Here is where one is tempted to say, “Yet it is about so much more.” Except that it’s not.
… by shooting education reporters some story ideas and other food for thought. I have been really interested in the degree to which teachers unions are or are not realistic proxies for the actual views of actual teachers, so #3 and #8 resonate especially. And given that reading yet another story about KIPP or Green Dot might make my eyeballs burst, #2 intrigues me as well.
Many education reporters who are hunting for jobs come to me for counsel. Would this be a good fit for me? Do you know what kind of person they want to hire? Would you take a look at my resume? Of course, given the numbers, most of them do not get the job they apply for. What they also do not get, from at least six different employers in the last month:
What would a reality show about school turnaround look like? Teachers would be fired, replacements pounding Doubleshot would be hired, and data would be gathered like mad. The charismatic new principal would turn some tired educational cliche into a national catchphrase. The host? Jeff Probst, meet Justin Cohen.
Steven Brill, in a piece in the upcoming New York Times Magazine, lays out the political landscape of education reform better than any piece I have seen during this administration. He does not actually get into what these debates mean when it comes to the education of actual children in actual schools, but he doesn’t purport to. And did you know before where “Race to the Top” came from?
Sorry (if you cared) that I was silent this last week, but in reality I was not quiet at all; I was taking part in EWA’s annual conference in San Francisco. I have many thoughts from there to share with you, but first let me tell you about a great new EWA resource we announced at the meeting: a searchable database of more than 1,000 sources on children and education, with full contact information, links to their websites and information about their areas of expertise.
My colleague David Hunn, a terrific data-driven reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and I have been putting together some materials for new education reporters for the upcoming EWA conference, and David came upon something interesting in federal numbers he crunched from the Data Accountability Center.