Blog: The Educated Reporter

Gist suggests why Central Falls made a splash.

I went to a reporters’ roundtable this morning with Deborah Gist, the schools superintendent for Rhode Island. Someone asked her the question that struck me from the start: Why did this turnaround get so much media attention? As I mentioned before, many schools have gone through reconstitution that involved teachers having to reapply for their jobs.

Gist suggested maybe it was because in a larger district, teachers removed from one high school can go teach at another. In this case, she said, “there isn’t another place for the teachers to go who aren’t asked to come back.” She also suggested it might have to do with the way state law requires notification of teacher terminations by March 1. Otherwise, a school that might rehire half its teachers can figure out which ones before it fires the other half. In this situation, Gist said, district administrators were obliged in March to give all the teachers notice, even if several of them would still be teaching in September.

Still, there have got to be other reasons this story made such a splash, even before Obama weighed in. Can any of you journalists who were early in reporting on it tell me, either privately or in the comments, why you covered it the way you did?