Blog: The Educated Reporter
I love GAO reports! I always have. I used to want to work there. (I also, at various points, used to want to be an interior decorator, a teacher, an actress and a designer of confidence-building measures between the Pakistani and Indian armies.) Anyway, the latest education release from the GAO (which, yay, includes voicemails), details questionable practices that for-profit college representatives used on undercover “applicants”—among them telling a purported candidate for a barber certificate that one could earn $250,000 in the field.
Lots of talk among ed reporters this week about cut scores—lowering them to ensure that more students pass, raising them and seeing more students fail. It is a nearly impossible topic to report really well, given that states tend to make the process, and the tests, utterly opaque. Not to mention that “making the questions harder” is sort of vague.
No, really! One of my favorite pieces to write on the ed beat was about an odd policy on the books of the Montgomery County Public Schools, encouraging teachers to mix up alphabetical order so as to not discriminate against the Z kids.
Simon & Schuster released its first “enhanced” e-book today, interspersed with archive footage and video interviews with the author. Is it Stephen King? Laura Bush? Ernest Hemingway? “The Secret”? No, silly: It is “Nixonland,” by my brother, Rick Perlstein. Read more in today’s New York Times, or REALLY read more (896 pages!), by buying the e-book.
Already there is talk in Tennessee about whether the state can find enough people experienced and savvy enough to fill the high-level jobs created by its successful Race to the Top bid. It stands to wonder, then, whether the talent pool can match the challenge once a dozen or so more states are in the mix for major reform.
I didn’t realize how strongly news of Michelle Rhee’s firings resonated until several people who don’t even live around here asked this weekend what I thought of them. “Is this a big deal, or not?” they said. I explained how in theory getting fired for performance reasons isn’t shocking, but in teaching it is. (Less, though, than we make it out to be. While it is rare, I know a lot of principals who are successful at “encouraging people to leave,” or whatever they call it.) Given that the D.C.
For a long time I was in the cheerleading-is-not-a-sport camp. This attitude partly stemmed from my own experiences in the early 1980s as a middle school cheerleader and briefly, until I realized the group was more about cementing popularity than about dancing, a high school pom-pom girl. There was nothing strenuous or rigorous about what we were doing; we were playacting, mostly, at what we thought cheerleading was supposed to look like. I don’t recall advisors or coaches, I don’t recall warming up or wearing out, and we certainly never competed against anyone.
College students in America today are probably the biggest Internet consumers on the planet, yet according to Michael Koretzky, a Florida Atlantic University journalism advisor writing in the Huffington Post, they are lousy at producing online journalism. Have you noticed this? Koretzky says they are all about the print product, which should comfort some folks.
If my log of reporter requests means anything, a lot of you are. Slate reporter Emily Bazelon began to dive into the world of school bullying some time ago, and her lengthy investigation of the Phoebe Prince case in South Hadley, Mass., that was published this week is a worthwhile read. Some of the commenters are excoriating Bazelon for, as they see it, excusing the bullying; I don’t think that is what she has done.