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Media: About That Front-Page Washington Post Story...

ScreenHunter_02 Jan. 07 12.01The past week or so has seen a small resurgence of questions about the Washington Post's hard-working education blogger, Valerie Strauss, whose offerings at The Answer Sheet have generally run contra the current reform movement.

First word of it that I saw came from Patrick "Eduflack" Riccards, who raised questions about the appropriateness of having Strauss write a 12/31 front-page story (given her record as a blogger) and poked holes in the reporting and writing of the piece itself (about Duncan's possible involvement in the NYC chancellor selection process). Read it here: Personal Agendas and Objective Reporting.

Strauss usually writes for online only, not in print, and isn't an education columnist in the traditional sense like the Post's Jay Mathews or the Times' former education columnists Michael Winerip, Richard Rothstein, or Sam Freedman. But her work -- or should I say the guest posts she frequently runs? -- appears under the Post banner online, and the distinctions between different categories of stories aren't always apparent online, anyway.

Andy Rotherham has some additional thoughts about the story's lack of context here.

EdWeek's PoliticsK12 blog also published this entry (How Much Sway Does Arne Duncan Have in Local Decisions, Anyway?) noting Strauss's tendency towards "sometimes" criticism of the Obama administration's education policies and its main advocate, Arne Duncan and that it's unclear if Duncan's input would have had any effect, anyway. 

I would only add that we still don't know whether the story was pitched or not, and by whom, or who advocated for it within the newsroom.  Regardless, the Washington Post editors who assigned and edited and placed the story so prominently-- not just Strauss -- who are responsible for the quality and appropriateness of the story, as well as its placement on the front page, as well as that it was a holiday week and other reporters may not have been available.  

Previous posts: Who Are Education's Biggest Trolls (Besides Me)?WashPost Blog Irks Reformy BloggerDebating Valerie Strauss. More here. Disclosure: Strauss has run one or two pieces that I've written -- and turned down one or two as well. 

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Valerie Strauss is a well-meaning but not very selective (and sometimes even gullible) blog host. She runs both stories that appeared first elsewhere and also (apparently) posts written for her blog. She has no real background in education at any level other than (apparently) as a parent. Some of her posts are interesting, others entirely predictable, a few are even goofy. And I say this as someone who shares her skepticism about many threads of reform.

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