Blog: The Educated Reporter
Knowing nothing but the zillion things I have read, and setting aside that the charter schools themselves are somewhat of a mystery to me, I think the Harlem Children’s Zone is all sorts of awesome.
A new study from the Civil Rights Project has gotten people talking—or should I say snickering? At National Journal, the analysts pile on, criticizing (fairly so) that the report’s main point is a heaping helping of No Duh: Schools designed as alternatives for children in overwhelmingly minority areas have student populations that are—get this!—overwhelmingly minority.
Does anybody ever read a press release? Is that even a remotely effective way to get your message out to journalists? Do PR people think about whether the recipients of their releases would really, truly be interested in them? Did the person who sent me a release about this have any idea I would only publicize it in order to mock it? (Oh, any press is good press, I know.)
I introduced Milo to coloring, thinking it would be a great activity for him to do independently while I cooked or cleaned or otherwise paid him no mind. Of course it didn’t work out that way, because while he (literally) loves crayons to bits—and don’t get me started with his unhealthy obsession with BATH CRAYONS—he sees coloring as a team sport. “Draw blue bawoon!” “Draw M!” “Draw green car!” I draw something, he bids bye-bye and scribbles over it, and it all starts over again.
An interesting point made in a letter to Romenesko by writer David Macaray: Why do journalists so often preface “teachers union” with the word “powerful”? Whether or not they are powerful, we don’t use that formulation with other institutions that clearly are.
There is so much rhetorical sloppiness swirling around NCLB right now, it is impossible to know what anyone is talking about. Duncan complains that the current law is too prescriptive, but comments indicate new approaches that are even moreso. He calls 100 percent proficiency a utopian goal but wants to replace it with what he says is a higher bar: career and college readiness. How to judge that students are college-ready if not by giving them a test and seeing if 100 percent pass it? You’re awarded money if you make progress, and money if you’re failing.
My first job in journalism, junior year in college, was an internship with the Wall Street Journal editorial page in Brussels. I was so clueless going into my interview that for my writing sample I brought an essay criticizing Ronald Reagan. David Brooks, sitting under a portrait of Margaret Thatcher, said, “We like Reagan here.” I got the job anyway.
State of the Union last night, President Obama said
about Race to the Top, “We only reward success. Instead of
funding the status quo, we only invest in reform—reform that
raises student achievement, inspires students to excel in math
and science, and turns around failing schools that steal the
future of too many young Americans…”
We only reward success.
A few states, including New York, have refused to make their Race to the Top applications public because, they say, revealing what they are proposing would hurt their competitiveness in the second round of grants. “Absolutely not,” Secretary Duncan just said in a conference call with reporters, in response to my question. “This is about maximum transparency.” Duncan said that department staff is scrubbing the applications not yet posted to make sure they don’t contain personal identification (huh?
President Obama wants millions more Americans to go to, and finish, college—a terrific goal. It is also fundamentally at odds with budget cuts in higher ed. Of course that fact is obvious; what makes it compelling are human stories like this one, by Katharine Mieszkowski of the New York Times. If you see (or have written) other pieces on real-life examples of budget cuts’ possible effects on students’ ability to finish college, please link to them in the comments here.
Though it is a staple of newspaper writing, I always go out of my way to avoid those bracketed words and clauses inside quotes. The assumption is that readers could not possibly use context clues to know what you are talking about. Unlike the editor who once wanted me to insert in a feature on middle schoolers a definition of “pom poms,” I don’t think readers are stupid. (At least not the ones who treat the comments section like a virtual Klan rally.) They can figure out which person a pronoun refers to.