Blog: The Educated Reporter
I am very excited that Caroline Hendrie is going to be the new executive director of EWA. My condolences to Education Week, where Caroline has worked for 15 years and is reportedly invaluable. Their loss is not just my organization’s gain, but a great gain for education journalists everywhere. Caroline has big shoes to fill—Lisa Walker has, over the last 24 years, admirably built EWA into what it is today—and will begin to try to do so on June 1.
I didn’t love Newsweek’s “fire bad teachers” cover image back in March, and the article itself had a critical flaw, I felt: It conflated mediocre teachers and the truly depraved into one big category of “bad.” Firing the latter should be a no-brainer; firing the former is a whole different story. (Practical? Desirable?
The thinking seems to be in some circles that counting student test scores for anything less than 50 percent in teacher evaluation won’t get a state Race to the Top money. Does anybody know where the 50 percent figure originated? Is it just because it is powerful to say that at least half a teacher’s value be tied to student performance?
When I went back to Wesleyan for a reunion a few years ago, I came across flyers urging students to stop using cocaine. Not because cocaine is, you know, dangerous and illegal … but because it makes its way to American noses by way of oppressive labor practices in the third world. If you knew much about Wesleyan—it was the model for the movie “PCU” and its genius scene with the marchers shouting, “No more protests! No more protests!”—you wouldn’t be surprised.
A headline like “Better teachers help children read faster” seems to be stating the obvious, doesn’t it?
Mostly I like Las Vegas because I like to play cards, immerse myself in tourist kitsch and eat awesome if overpriced food. But you know what else I really like? Emily Richmond’s coverage of the area’s schools. She is a top-notch beat reporter who does a great job putting local stories in national context.
The Chronicle of Higher Education pointed me to UMagazinology, a new blog out of Johns Hopkins about alumni magazines. I don’t love the name, but I am intrigued by the topic. Alumni mags do a pretty good job with something traditional media does not: letting readers know what is happening in the classrooms and lives of university professors. And they seem to be once of the last groups on earth that pays freelancers decently.
… read this terrific profile in the upcoming New York Times Magazine about Mike Allen. I reside practically within watermelon-cannon distance from the nerve center of Washington and spent the most formative chunk of my professional life on the national desk of the Washington Post, during which time I was a recipient and observant of Mike’s generosities and curiosities.
The conversation about improving teacher quality these days centers primarily on two pieces: whether teachers should be evaluated and paid based on the test scores of their students, and how to fire bad teachers. But there are so many other point in the life cycle of a teacher where we might look at cultural and practical changes, tiny and massive, that might improve quality, from the point at which entering college students decide to major in education to the point at which teachers decide whether to retire.
Turns out you can see today’s 3 p.m. event on teacher quality even if you aren’t in D.C. Register for the live webcast here. It’s Joel Klein, Randi Weingarten, David Monk, Andy Rotherham and me. We are dispensing with the whole prepared-remarks thing and going “Meet the Press” style, me being the press. Is there something you want me to ask? Put it in the comments below.