Simon came to Politico via Reuters and the WSJ. The news of her departure was greeted with a certain amount of sadness from some (and probably a bit of muted cheering from others):
Politico's education team has been in flux pretty much from the start. Nirvi Shah was the founding section editor but quickly moved up to Deputy ME. Mary Beth Marklein came in from USA Today to edit the page but has since left (and may not yet have been replaced). Libby Nelson left to join Vox.
According to Simon, "The Politico ed team remains intact & will be expanding. So keep reading!" Caitlin, Allie, and Maggie are still there, far as I know.
Anyway, there's a job opening at Politico if anyone is looking. And there's also a job posting at ChalkbeatNY. (In the case of Chalkbeat, I'm not sure if someone left or if they're expanding the staff.) And then there's that mystery job posting for editors and reporters posted on Mediabistro among other places that all of you keep sending me (please stop!).
Related posts: Who Covered Yesterday's House NCLB Markup Best? (February 2015); Politico Launching "Pro" Education Site Monday (July 2013); Maggie Severns Fills Out Politico Education Team (November 2013); 12 Problems With Politico's TFA Story (+1 With TFA) (October 2013); Politico Takes More Hits, Promotes Education Editor (February 2014): Reuters' Simon Wins National Education Coverage Award.
The new Daily Show host Trevor Noah mocks Oprah's scandal-ridden African school. "You're getting a beating! Everybody's getting one!" There may be other, better examples, but this one will help you make it to lunchtime.
This year's education conferences seem like they're doing better and better modeling diversity and finding new & authentic voices to talk about education, but there's still lots of room for additional improvement.
So here are some ideas to help -- or maybe you've got better ones to suggest?
6 -- If you're organizing a conference or panel, make sure you include a variety of perspectives and backgrounds when you're picking speakers, even if it means reaching out to new connections or recruiting new participants. #Wetried is not enough.
5 -- If you're invited to participate in a panel, tell the organizer it's important to you that the panel includes a diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, and be so bold as to suggest some folks who might fit the bill if the organizers seem unfamiliar.
4 -- If you're invited to open or close a conference, or function as a keynote speaker, tell the organizers how important diverse panels and perspectives are to you.
3 -- If you somehow find yourself on a panel that's all white (or even all white and male), don't just lament the situation. Give up your time to someone in the audience who has a valuable perspective not otherwise represented on the stage, or do something really bold and give up your spot.
2 -- If you're someone who's used to being asked to speak on panels or give talks, consider giving up your spot to give someone else a chance and -- just as important -- come to the event anyway, sit in the the audience like a normal person, and you might learn something.
1 -- If you're attending a conference or panel in the audience and you happen to notice that the panel is, say, all white (or that the conversation is being dominated by men) say something. (Be nice about it -- the organizers are probably very tired and doing their best -- but still say something.)
Bottom line: Talking about diversity is great but insufficient at this point. Programs aimed at diversifying the pipeline of teacher and leaders are great but way in the future in terms of their impact.
Finding and elevating new and diverse voices to speak at conferences and sit on panels could make a small but concrete difference to the success of the movement. And those of us who've been privileged enough to sit on panels and speak at conferences should take the lead in helping make these shifts, rather than resisting them or even appearing to undercut them.
*For those of you not following along on Twitter, the question of diversifying panels and the responsibilities of conference organizers and convening organizations came up in a series of tweets this morning. The PIE Network's Suzanne Tacheny Kabach and I talked more about it this afternoon and that conversation was the inspiration for some of the above.
I won't be the first person to try this. Earlier this week, BuzzFeed's Molly Hensley-Clark interviewed a teen using Snapchat. And lots of different news outlets are trying their hands at the mobile video approach, according to the Online News Association (Can Vine and Snapchat be reporting tools?). The Nieman Journalism Lab rounds up several efforts (How 6 news orgs are thinking about Snapchat) many of them focused on experimenting with live coverage. Huffington Post, Fusion, Mashable, NPR, Philly.com, and The Verge are all Snapchatting. The Knight Lab has another roundup (How news organizations are using SnapChat to report and distribute news) focused on NowThisNews, the Washington Post, NPR, and Mashable. In fact, Snapchat and Vine are no longer the new kids on the mobile video block, now that Meerkat and Periscope have launched. (These new versions offer live-streaming options.)
First things first: The most notable thing about Tuesday's much-tweeted NYT story about Hillary Clinton and education (Hillary Clinton Caught Between Teachers and Wealthy Donors) might be that Team Hillary put Ann O'Leary out in front to represent the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate.
"Both the teachers’ union and the reformers will really feel like they have her ear in a way they haven’t,” said Ann O’Leary in the NYT piece. "She believes we need to have some kind of ways that we can measure student progress,” Ms. O’Leary said.
But she said Mrs. Clinton was “also sympathetic that the test regime has become very burdensome in driving the education system in ways that many people think is problematic.”
Longtime readers of this site already know about her (see related posts, below). And longtime Hillary-watchers know her, too. She's on Politico's top Hillary Clinton influentials. Need to know more? Check out her official Next Generation bio
After the article came out, O'Leary (@Ann_OLeary) tweeted " It's true: I do believe ed community will be pleased @HillaryClinton's someone who listens to all good education ideas."
As for the piece itself, well, it's obviously a good media "get" for DFER and the like to have the NYT talking about reformy pressures that are (supposedly) being put on the presumptive Democratic candidate. The "leaked" memo worked again!
But there's an undertone of fear and uncertainty just below the surface, and let's be clear: reformers like the unions don't really have anywhere else to go. They can threaten to stay home or focus on other races but they're pretty much all Democrats and don't really have any interest in having a conservative Republican win the White House. Team Hillary wants their money, sure, and will listen to them, sure.
However, I can't imagine folks as smart and experienced as Team Clinton are feeling any real pressure to do something "crazy" (like coming out hard for the Common Core or even annual testing) anytime soon. (Coming out in favor of vaccinations was already a bit of a surprise.) So if anything, the Clinton folks might not like the public display that DFER et al are trying to put on here, and Team DFER could get some cold shoulder. For a little while. Nobody can hate nice-guy Joe Williams for long.
Related posts: A Clinton Ed Staffer On The High Court? (2010), Power Couples In Education, The Update (2007), More Agency Review Team Names (2008), West Coast Reboot For DFER & Steve Barr, Winners & Losers of 2008 (According To Me).Image via Twitter.
Or at least, so says Factcheck via HuffPost: "In an ad released on March 18, Garcia stands in front of a closed school and states that the mayor “took the money from these schools and gave it to elite private schools founded by his big campaign contributors." (Chuy Garcia Mayoral Ad Stretches The Truth About Rahm Emanuel's School Funding Decisions). Not really impressed? Read about last night's debate, or about Garcia and De Blasio are and aren't alike (on mayoral control, among other things).
There's a ton of great education journalism out there these days, with more and more of it coming online all the time. But sometimes editors and reporters get stuck covering the same things the same ways and they need some new stories or new ways to come at old stories. And that's where "Stories I'd Like To See" comes in. Take a look at the latest batch, steal them if you want, tell me if they've already been done, or suggest your own if you think there's something that needs covering and isn't being covered:
1- UNDER ATTACK! At least a couple of school districts have been hacked/ attacked during this spring's Common Core testing rolllout -- in one case with a $500 bitcoin ransom demand. Are the attacks coming from Common Core critics (joke!) or random Russians (no offense)? Are districts anywhere near prepared for DNS attacks and ransom demands that could interrupt both testing and instructional time?
2 - WHY NOT WORKPLACE-BASED SCHOOL ASSIGNMENT? Should parents be allowed to enroll their children in schools near work, not just schools near home? That's one of the issues raised by the case of the daughter of a live-in nanny in affluent Orinda, California, who was temporarily dis-enrolled from her mother's employer's neighborhood school. Parents with choices find schools close or convenient to work, using charters, magnets, and private options. Why not everyone else?
3 - CHEATING WITH SOCIAL MEDIA: While most of the attention has focused on whether testing companies and districts are "spying" on kids by monitoring social media for kids sharing test items, another question is whether (how) kids are using social media to cheat on tests (Common Core or otherwise). With its disappearing images, SnapChat sounds like a perfect cheating tool. But then there's plain old Twitter, texting, and private Facebook groups. The days of copying the test at Kinko's (what!?) and sharing it among friends are long gone.
4 -UBER GOES TO SCHOOL: Parents are using Uber and other services to ferry their kids around town, reports the Washington Post. What are schools to do when some kids are jumping into strangers' cars to go home or to dance practice? Should schools consider Uber as an alternative to expensive bus services and voucher arrangements? Special tip: Uber's spokesperson used to work for LEE.
Related posts: Three Education Stories I'd Like To See (February)
Intrepid BuzzFeed education and business reporter Molly Hensley-Clancy took to the teen-dominated social media app called Snapchat to interview a 13 year-old climbing phenom.
For the most part, the teen climber used the image-based app to answer questions posed to her in plain text form.
But then MHC went the extra mile and posed a question to the teen climber using the application herself (pictured).
This is the first time to my knowledge that an education reporter has used and published the results of a Snapchat interview.
Social media is great, and we all know how to set up streams on Hootsuite or Tweetdeck and use hashtags and check for updates constantly and all the rest, but it's still been hard to figure out where the conversation is going without spending all day watching Twitter, right?
Until now, that is. A newish program called Nuzzel (tag line: "News from your friends") watches social media for you and lets you know when a bunch of your "friends" are going crazy over something.
That's what's happening this afternoon, with the publication of Maggie Haberman's story on DFER, Hillary Clinton and the teachers unions.
When a story like this one gets big, you get an alert and then you can click down and see who (among your friends) got the ball rolling and how it unfolded. In this case, it was @maggieNYT who quad-tweeted her story out at noon, followed by Bloomberg's Jennifer Epstein, Gotham Gazette's Ben Max, and Politico's Caitlin Emma.
Or at least, that's how it appears on my Nuzzel - perhaps you have more or better friends than I do.
But wait, there's more! Nuzzel lets you get a daily email, plus individual alerts at a threshold level of activity you can determine. You can synchronize Twitter, Facebook, and other social media accounts. You can even subscribe to custom feeds, (aka Twitter lists, whose usefulness has always been limited to vanity), and get alerts that way.
Basically, Nuzzel is a way to tame Twitter. It basically tells you what's trending within the group of folks you already know and love (or at least follow) that's not reliant on hashtags, saved streams, or Twitter's lame Trending lists.
It may not yet be a full replacement for Feedly (or for having your own social media manager pinging you in the Bahamas when something comes up), but it's a big step forward.
And, it's a big argument for following or friending folks who don't agree with you already because it makes the echo chamber pretty obvious. Don't follow your opponents or others and you won't know what they're excited or upset about.
Big thanks to JGW for tipping me off about it.Click below for some screenshots if it's still not making sense.
In this recent segment from Fox News posted by Media Matters, "Fox News host Bill O'Reilly attacked efforts to decrease school suspensions and expulsions with programs known as "restorative justice," ignoring that these traditional punishments disproportionately target students of color." (Bill O'Reilly Attacks "Restorative Justice" Programs). Or, watch Charles Best's SXSWedu presentation below.
Thanks to everyone who passed along my recent CJR piece on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring. Much appreciated! The story was a top read for CJR all week.
By and large, those of you who are pro-Common Core liked the piece, and those of you who are critical thought it was less likable. Pretty predictable. (Your positions are reversed when I'm criticizing Rhee or Kopp or Cunningham, though.)
Far as I know, nobody was willing to admit publicly any major change of mind on the tests or the coverage -- such is rigidly orthodox world of education debate these days (and also of course the limits of my writing).
Most of you who work as education reporters didn't say anything one way or the other -- at least not publicly. (A few of you were kind enough to write privately that it was a useful piece, or that it was helping you to rethink your coverage tendencies, which I appreciated tremendously.)
Alas, the only journalists I could find to talk about the issue on the record were John Merrow (one of its subjects) and Linda Perlstein (a former Washington Post reporter and EWA's founding Public Editor). I hope that won't always be the case, as I think constructive conversation about media coverage is a positive and healthy thing and shows confidence in the work.
Turned by back CJR from commenting on their site, Merrow finally posted his own response on his blog this afternoon (Reporting About Reporting). He makes some good points, as you'll see, but he also makes some weaker ones, according to me at least, and unfortunately resorts to (gentle) criticisms of character.
Read on for more about Merrow, a handful of less predictable responses, some errors and omissions on my part, and a few sentences that were left on the cutting room floor.
Not counting this year's class (pictured), the Spencer Education Fellowship at Columbia University's Journalism School is now six years old.
Wow, time has flown. I was in the first class (2008-2009). The seventh class (2015-2016) will be notified as soon as later today and announced in a few weeks. Here are the people making the decisions this year.
At the time the Spencer Foundation was considering what to do, I thought that a small, expensive program like the Columbia model was a bad idea.
The folks I talked to as part of some research I did on journalism education all told me that small, ongoing, community-focused training was better and more effective than flashy fellowships, and more likely to benefit those who really needed them, and I believed them.
It's possible that they were right. Some of the biggest books on education -- Amanda Ripley's book, for example, or Steven Brill's -- weren't a product of the Spencer Fellowship. Several of the folks that have gotten Spencers aren't really focused on education journalism, per se. A few of them already had book deals and might not have needed the fellowship in order to get their work done. Given the current conversation about white privilege, it's important to note that we are many of us awfully white.
Then again, a bunch of the books and projects that have come out of the Spencer Fellowship have been helpful contributions to the field (as far as I can tell) and wouldn't otherwise have happened. Some examples that come to mind include books and other projects by Goldstein, Green, and Solomon. Ideologically, the products of the Spencer Fellowship have been pretty mixed -- reflecting the advisory board that makes the final decisions.
The newest offshoot of the Spencer project is a reporting program through Columbia and Slate featuring work from Matt Collette and Alexandra Neason that seems like it's been pretty useful. And I'm pretty excited about whatever this year's class -- Lutton and Resmovits especially -- are going to do next, and S. Mitra Kalita's forthcoming endeavors at the LA Times. Toppos' education book is coming out any minute now.
Related posts: Columbia J-School Doubles Down On Education Reporting; Goldstein Taking Her Talents To The Marshall Project. Image used with permission.
Longtime readers already know that the Chicago Sun-Times' Kate Grossman is one of my favorite editorial page writers. She (along with the LA Times' Karin Klein) report their own pieces and sometimes scoop or differ from their own beat reporters, which I think is healthy.
Well the latest news is that Grossman and a few others (including Davis Guggenheim) have won a new fellowship at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, and will be teaching a course among other things. Read all about it here: Sun-Times deputy editor Kate Grossman wins U. of C. fellowship. "Starting March 30, Grossman will spend 10 weeks on campus examining education issues and the debate over how best to improve schools."
Speaking of fellowships, I'm told that today is the day that the Spencer Fellowships are being decided for 2015-2016. Good luck to everyone who made it to the finals!
Today's newish entrant is US News' Knowledge Bank, which (so far) includes a rogues' gallery of reformers with a particularly heavy dose of Bellwether (Mead, Rotherham), Fordham (Pondiscio), and AEI (McShane, Hess).*
Elaine Allensworth from the Chicago Consortium is in there, as is Catherine Brown. You get the idea.
These folks already have in-house blogs and other outlets to get their views out there, but now they've got a regular outlet for their views plus US News' logo etc. as well.
There's the added legitimacy of the venerable magazine, plus also the potential confusion for readers who -- as with Valerie Strauss's blog page -- sometimes see the outlet listed but don't realize that it's an opinion piece (especially on Twitter). In fact, you could look at this as the reform version of the Answer Sheet.
In any case, I'm told that the page is looking for a mix of contributors and will continue to add/shift things around as things develop. It'll be interesting to watch.
*Corrected: I got them confused - McShane & Hess are AEI, Pondiscio is Fordham. Apologies.
Tech giants battle for classrooms in Amish country From PBS NewsHour. Click the link for the show transcript.
Here's something new from me via the Columbia Journalism Review, focusing on the challenges of reporting the Common Core testing rollout this spring:
As you'll see from my review of coverage from PBS, the NYT, WSJ, AP, and the Washington Post, it's no easy task for journalists to describe the varied experiences different schools, districts, and states are having -- or to find hard numbers or nuanced viewpoints.
But in my view the national coverage has somehow ended up upside-down, focusing on the relatively few hotspots and problem areas (and passing along one-sided speculation) without giving readers a clear sense of the vast majority of instances where the process of implementing the new tests seems to be going well.
Related posts: Missing Context In AP's Common Core Testing Story, Let's Focus On What Actually Happens -- Not What *Might* Happen, Please Do A Better Job Covering Testing This Year, Journos!, Inside The Common Core Assessment “Field Test”. Image via CJR.
OK, technically it's a Vine (with sound!) not a GIF, but who cares? The Chicago Tribune's Juan Perez saw fit to highlight a few seconds of Duncan's forced walk through anti-testing protesters in Chicago the other day. The moment took place because Duncan car ended up in a dead-end alley -- some poor driver or advance staffer got in trouble for this (or should have).
Read Sun-Times for additional coverage. The EdSec claims that the USDE didn't force Chicago to administer PARCC, and Mayor Rahm is saying that it was the state (not Washington). Hmm. Read more Tribune for how the rollout's going so far.
WellDeserved is a a new app that allows folks to offer surplus privileges -- free food at work, extra dental appointments, a soon-to-expire SoulCycle coupon -- to fellow citizens who might want to purchase them.
Their motto: "Privilege goes unused every single day.Why would we waste any of it?"
Great idea, no?
But they need people to post more education-related privileges that are going unused, and maybe you can help them out.
For starters, there are all the extra laptops, tablets, and smart phones laying around many homes -- not to speak of all that unused broadband access and data. But that's not all. A student who doesn't need all of the Kumon hours his parents signed him up for could offer them to a fellow classmate. A private school family living in a desirable neighborhood could offer its spots at the local elementary school. I'm sure you can think of other examples.
Charles Best better watch out.
Check out last night's PBS NewsHour segment (Why some students are refusing to take the Common Core test), which in my opinion includes an unfortunate number of errors. These include exaggerating the number of opt-outs, linking the Newark student sit-in to the Common Core, and minimizing the role of NJEA in opposing the tests (and Newark). That being said, there is some great footage and interviews by correspondent John Merrow.
You might be interested to note that Hillary Clinton isn't the only one to have a bit of an email scandal on her hands - though education's versions aren't nearly as prominent as those the presumptive Democratic nominee faces currently (and are, frankly, not as recent as I'd like):
This Washington Post article (Group Opposed to Vouchers Cites Shortcomings) includes an embarrassing email from then-Bush Administration appointee Nina Rees about then-Senator Arlen Specter ("while I hate the guy, we need to be nice to him I'm told."
This AP/ USA Today story (Bush reading program beset by favoritism, mismanagement) included embarrassing emails from Reading First director Chris Doherty (also under Bush) expressing disdain for "whole language" developers: "They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the (expletive deleted) out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags."
Then there's the alleged scandal between an education reporter and Miami's Carvalho, summarized in the Miami New Times (Carvalho's Liaison): "The emails document discussions the pair had about her coverage of Miami-Dade Public Schools, as well as some sexually explicit banter."
I'm sure there are others -- I can think of at least one more off the top of my head -- but I'd love to hear more from you, dear reader.
No, the USDE notifying TFA that it was the subject of a FOIA request doesn't count. Not for ideological reasons, but just because it isn't really all that scandalous.
On one side, you have a group of reformers who say that getting rid of federal mandates for annual testing would be apocalyptic, and that’s crazy.... On the other side, you have people who think that getting rid of it would lead to utopia. I think both sides have lost their minds on this. -- Author and Emerson Fellow Amanda Ripley in the Washington Post (Some parents across the country are revolting against standardized testing)
There may be too few educators on cable TV (and too few education-related segments, too), but has there ever been a time when schools were as much a central part of so many TV shows?
*On Fresh Off The Boat, the hip-hop loving son of immigrant parents has to make new friends at a Florida school where there has apparently a student who isn't white, black, or Hispanic.
*The New Girl is now an assistant superintendent and her boyfriend/employee teacher works at the same school (or still did, last I looked).
*Girls' most appealingly deplorable character, Hannah, substitutes at a private school after crashing and burning at her Iowa MFA program.
*In episode 6 of Tina Fey's new show, The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, the protagonist encounters a burned-out GED teacher who wants to be reported so he can get assigned to the rubber room. (There was a rubber room on Silicon Valley, too.)
*The female half of a bored married couple starts getting involved with an LA charter school startup in Eagle Rock that might also be good for her kids. (Repeat of Parenthood, sort of.)
Plus also: High Maintenance (seriously), Blackish (yep), Empire (just kidding), The Good Wife (I wish).
These aren't just silly pop culture coincidences, I'd argue -- or at least not only that. They're a representation of what the larger public thinks or knows about education, or is at least what the public is curious about. Clearly, charter schools and the rubber room are fascinating to writers, and the notion of smart young people trying out teaching isn't as foreign or obscure as it once may have been.
Related posts: Oh, No! Girls' Lena Dunham Is Going To Teach; Neighborhood Segregation The Central Issue In New HBO Show; Apparently Not Everyone's Cut Out To Be A Teaching Fellow; Silicon Valley's Rubber Room Includes A Rooftop Grill; Louis C.K. Takes Us Back To 8th Grade Science.
According to Jim Romenesko, an El Paso TV reporter ended a segment by thanking school’s PR team for feeding her information: "I would like to thank the El Paso ISD [Independent School District] public information team for giving me this information tonight to give it to you first before you hear it anywhere else.”
But the rival El Paso Times called the station out for the unusually public thank-you (and for claiming to have an exclusive it didn't really have, responding "Since when does a journalist thank a ‘PR team’ for doing what they’re supposed to do, which is provide the media with information?”
The segment has apparently been scrubbed with a new voice over since the controversy arose last week.
Let's be clear that some journalists have exceedingly hands-off (even antagonistic) relationships with the districts and sources they cover, and others have uncomfortably friendly ones, but the relationships are in nearly all cases complicated, somewhat symbiotic ones.
Related posts: Gannett Paper Fires "Veteran Education Reporter"
There were lots of interesting responses to my post on Friday about white reporters and students of color -- one of the most immediately useful of which was lots more education journalists of color (#edJOC) identifying themselves or being mentioned by others in addition to those previously listed:
Thanks to @dcrunningmom and @C_C_Mitchell (Corey Mitchell) for clueing me in about @StateEdWatch (@AndrewUjifusa), @drsuperville, @EarlyYearsEW (@casamuels), @amatos12, @StribLonetree, @LoriAHiggins, @Bobjohnson1word.
Two other journalists who don't write exclusively about education but whose names I've seen and tweeted enough times to think they should be included (assuming they don't mind): @jbouie & @jdesmondharris.
None of this is to suggest that there isn't a diversity problem when it comes to the education beat -- especially at national outlets and/or beats -- which is especially noticeable given the kids, schools, and communities that are often being covered.
Somebody turn this plus the original post into a Twitter list that we call can follow (if such a thing hasn't been done already)?
"I went to public school in Mississippi. They told us dinosaurs went extinct because an asteroid turned them gay." - Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt via Tumblr. [Still ISO Ep6 classroom gifs!]
There's been a LOT of discussion this past week or so about important issues surrounding race, class, and privilege among school reformers and reform critics.
But what about the editors and reporters who cover education issues -- and whose work is read by the public and policymakers who are making real-life education decisions every day?
The truth of the matter is that it's not just the education reform movement and its critics who are predominantly white & appear otherwise privileged.
I know, race is just a social construct. Class is probably more important. Not everyone identifies according to the apparent color of their skin or their national origin. A person doesn't have to be from the community they're writing about to do the job well. (For the record, this post is being written by a white male who has been private-school educated all for all but a few community college Spanish language classes.)
But let's be clear. Many if not most of the journalists writing about education for a national audience are white, too, and do not appear to come from the neighborhoods and schools that they may spend much of their time covering. For example, there aren't any people of color covering national education issues at The Washington Post. The education team at Politico is entirely white (and female), though founding education editor Nirvi Shah may identify as a person of color. Last I looked, the education team at NPR is entirely white other than Claudio Sanchez (Juana Summers was briefly on the education team before moving over to covering Congress).
You get the idea. And no matter how smart, hard-working, or privilege-aware these journalists may be, it seems hard to imagine that the cultural distance between reporters and poor minority students doesn't play a role of some kind.
The issue of cultural sensitivity and journalism has come up most recently among a handful of critics of NPR's "Serial" podcast, which was (tangentially) about magnet school kids in Baltimore. I wrote about this line of thinking -- and the lack of similar criticism for last year's This American Life segments on Harper High -- not too long ago (Why's "Serial" Getting So Much More Pushback Than "Harper High"?).
But the best examples may come from the recent conflicts between reform advocates and critics in which race and class have been explicit topics of the debate - when Newark's Cami Anderson is under attack for being a white interloper in a black community, or when Chicago's Rahm Emanuel is accused of being a racist murderer by the head of the Chicago Teachers Union.
These are situations in which a white reporter is probably somewhat less comfortable than a person of color, and though I have no way of knowing for sure I'm imagining that there's some influence on the coverage that's produced.
The current reality is that most education reporters have more in common, racially and otherwise, with educators (still mostly white, college-educated women), and with well-educated parents who are making decisions about their own children's education.
The good news is that there are a handful of people writing about education who are (or may consider themselves to be) persons of color.Last year, EWA held a panel session on covering communitiees of color, which was to my knowledge the first such example.
But there's obviously a lot more work to be done in terms of diversifying the community and educating it as well. Let's get started!
Meantime, here's a partial list that I'm hoping you can help me complete:
Daarel Burnette II is the bureau chief of ChalkbeatTN. Brian Charles is a Chalkbeat New York reporter. ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones writes about education, as does Marian Wang. More names, in no particular order: Juan Perez Chicago Tribune; Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle; Melissa Sanchez at Catalyst Chicago; Christina Armario at AP; Vanessa Romo at LA School Report; Motoko Rich at the NYT (also Brent Staples on the editorial page and columnist Charles Blow); Teresa Watanabe at the LA Times. The Atlantic's Ta-Nehesi Coates doesn't write about education but he writes about issues that surround education.
Related posts: This More Diverse List Of Top Education Tweeters Needs More Names*; Atlantic Story Highlighting "Racial Gerrymandering" Named Magazine Award Finalist; Last Week's Problematic New Yorker Parent Opt-Out Story;
It's hard to find a more useful, far-ranging, and long-running blog than the one California teacher Larry Ferlazzo has been running the last eight years. And so its easy for me to wish him a hearty Eighth Anniversary (just a few weeks late!).
What makes Larry's work so notable is that he shares and collects so prodigiously, and his work isn't anywhere near as narcissistic as most of us online tend to be. Some example blog posts include: New Resources On Race & Racism. Or let Larry tell you: What Have Been My Most Popular Posts? His personal favorites are here, As you will see, Ferlazzo's work spans classrooms and courthouses.
First, education reporters too often do not have a firm enough grasp on the data for the issues which they are covering. Second, too much of education reporting is about raising or lowering the status of specific individuals, rather than examining the root causes of school system dysfunction.
- Neerav Kingsland (What We Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Charter School Performance)
Related posts: : Washington Post Doubles Down In National Coverage; About That Front-Page Washington Post Story; The Washington Post's Wacky Montgomery County Coverage; San Diego Union-Tribune Corrects Washington Post Poverty Headline.
"Here I was, right outside my elementary school, [and] somebody’s pulling out a gun. And it was very clear that that was different." In this Bill Moyers interview from last Spring, the Atlantic writer Ta-Nehesi Coates describes an after-school experience that raised his awareness and shaped his interest in journalism.
See the whole interview here. See below for my little collection of quotes and references to Coates and education. Tell me if I've missed any good ones at @alexanderrusso.
Related posts: What They're Saying About That New Yorker Article; This More Diverse List Of "Top Education Tweeters"; AFT Sponsors Atlantic Magazine Education Event; "I Did Not Have a Culture of Scholastic High Achievement Around Me"; Bolstering The "Clueless Reformer" Critique; He's Referring To The NYC Department Of Education, Right?.
We must identify the people who are teaching ISIS their tactics – in other words, their teachers – and eliminate them. I did that in Wisconsin and I can do it in Iraq and Syria... Behind every problem, there are teachers you need to get rid of.
- Scott Walker (Walker Vows To Detroy ISIS Teachers via Andy Borowitz
Kudos to the team at KPCC Southern California Public Radio for showing how to correct a story online (and for reminding us that UTLA and SEIU have split on endorsing the sitting board chair, Richard Vladovic).
Step 1 is to indicate in the headline that the story has been corrected. KPCC goes with CORRECTED, but in my view an asterisk is also fine.
Step 2 is to indicate at the top of the story that there's been a change and what it is. Regretting the error is a classy flourish, though many news outlets can't seem to bring themselves to do so.
That's it. Not so hard, right?
Corrections should be avoided at all costs, but they're also inevitable given the pace of work and complexity of the issues. How you respond to them makes all the difference to readers and sources.
Related posts: Story Corrections Should Be Indicated At The Top; NYT Front-Pager Mis-Identifies Ed Trust President; FiveThirty-Eight Stumbles Out Of The Gate; NYT Error Leaves Asians Out Of NYC Gifted & Talented Program.
The AP called it a "political embarrassment" for Republicans in charge of Congress, but it might just as well have been called an embarrassment for pundits and journalists covering the process.
On Friday afternoon, the House scuttled debate on the reauthorization of ESEA, the federal education law currently known as No Child Left Behind. -- and it seems like nobody other than Dropout Nation's Rishawn Biddle seems to have anticipated that such a thing might happen.
That's right. Not Politico. Not Politics K-12. Not AP. Not the Washington Post. Not Petrilli, Hess, Smarick, or any of those Fordham/AEI folks, either. (Not anyone on the D. side, either, that I know of.)
Looking back, it seems obvious that this was a possibility. The House and Senate were dealing with a tough political issue with much greater urgency. Conservative Republicans hated the Committee-passed version of the bill. This has happened before. In 2013, a Republican ESEA reauthorization got pulled.
And to be fair, political reporters and pundits were surprised about the DHS funding failure, too. Even Boehner said he didn't know what was going to happen on DHS. Education issues don't get on the floor that often, and annual spending amendments are a thing of the past, so things like this are a bit of a wildcard for everyone.
Still, what happened, and how could we get better advance notice in the future? Check out my 5 Lessons below - and add or correct them here or at @alexanderrusso.
In case you missed it like I did, here's The Nation's panel on race and reconstruction, featuring the magazine's work on race over 150 years. Also be sure to check out the background blog posts, including this one about the era from the segregation ban to Nelson Mandela's time (The Nation).
As Politico recently noted, statehouse efforts to turn the Common Core and its assessments back seem to have peaked since last year. The number of states with repeal efforts repeated this year is down from 22 to 19. "So far, they’ve fared poorly," notes Stephanie Simon.
But you wouldn't necessarily know this from reading national education news stories, which tend to focus on the handful of rollbacks that have taken back and the slew of proposed rollbacks that have been proposed, or passed out of committee, or made it out of a legislative chamber. In other words, proposals that *might* happen, but haven't yet become reality -- and probably won't, given the way these things usually pan out.
I have yet to see an AP, Washington Post*, New York Times, or NPR story about this -- or for that matter anything along these lines from Huffington Post, Reuters, Hechinger, etc. (Please let me know if I've missed anything relevant.*) The issue might have been discussed at yesterday's #EWAcore media training in Denver but the focus there seemed to be on the substance of the standards and tests rather than the national trends and coverage thereof.
None of this is to say that repeal and slowdown efforts are gone: NSCL says that there are roughly 450 CCSS-related proposals in the works this session. "Total number of bills that would halt implementation of Common Core State Standards: 39 bills (in 19 states) Total number of bills that would halt use of Common Core State Standards-related assessments, i.e., PARCC or Smarter Balanced: 36 bills (in 17 states)."
But if this year is like last year, these new efforts will fare just as badly as last year's. And if this year is like last year, most newspaper and news site readers will hear mostly about the proposals and what they would do, rather than the actual track record of these proposals and their actual chances of enactment.
Proposals are great, people -- easy to sell to editors and full of hope or fear for those involved -- but enactment (or at least a realistic chance at passage) is what counts. We do readers and ourselves a disservice when we lose track of the larger storyline, creating an impression (in this case, of widespread rollbacks) that doesn't match reality.
*UPDATE: Earlier this week, the Washington Post's GovBeat page (never heard of it!) had a story about failed Common Core repeal efforts.
"Just earlier this year, Nadia Lopez was ready to quit her job at Mott Hall Bridges Academy" -- a school she'd founded in 2010 in the poorest neighborhood in New York City. "Four years later, though, she worried her work wasn't influencing the community." (via The Atlantic: Meet Ms. Lopez of Mott Hall Bridges Academy)
Take a look at this 2010 chart -- a made-up seating chart for a nonexistent USDE briefing room setup and you'll get a pretty vivid idea of how much has changed in national education coverage over the past five years (A Map To Coverage Of National Education News):
So much has changed, I know! USA Today's Toppo is splitting duties on other issues (like demographics). The WSJ's Banchero is gone (to Joyce), replaced by Brody. PK12's McNeil is gone (to the College Board), replaced by Klein and Camera. The NYT's Dillon is gone (to retirement, I think), replaced by Rich. Winerip is gone (to other beats), and the column has sat empty since he left. At the Washington Post, Mathews is gone (to LA, at least), though he's still columnizing from there. AP has changed over. Colbert is gone (as we know him), replaced by... nothing so far as I can tell. Sanchez has been joined by Kamenetz and Turner. Politico's education page didn't exist back then. Huffington Post's education page wasn't launched yet, either, I guess (come back soon, Joy!).
Here's a map of Common Core states, by assessment, from EdWeek, that I got off the #EWACore event hashtag. (All it needs is testing start/end dates for each state, right?) Agenda is here. Crossed fingers there's some (gentle?) discussion of how well/poorly media are doing covering the situation.
A new study out suggests that education 'experts' may lack expertise, in terms of academic qualifications. The study, authored by the UofIllinois' Joel R. Malin and Christopher Lubienski, suggests that media prominence and academic qualifications aren't closely related.
However, it's no big surprise that education policy has turned away from academic expertise (and academic research, for that matter). That's been going on for quite a while.
More importantly, the study doesn't name names, and it seems to include more individuals from the more conservative think tank experts -- AEI, Cato -- and fewer liberal or moderate ones. For reasons I'm not quite clear on (though I'm sure others could understand), EPI is included, but not CAP or New America, or Brookings (or Fordham).
For a list of institutional affiliations, look here. For MMFA's writeup, look here. The issue has been addressed before -- last winter in InsideHigher Ed, for example. The study was published in a recent issue of the journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. Image courtesy EPAA.
I'm equally horrified and fascinated with the latest plot development on the HBO show Girls, in which Lena Dunham's character Hannah drops out of her MFA writing program and decides she's going to be a teacher. Specifically, she decides she wants to help people (despite her friends' observation that she's selfish) and that she's not good at writing, and -- yes -- that "those who can't teach." (Those words are actually uttered, with an unclear amount of irony.)
In a perfect/nightmare world, she'd do TFA or something, but to Hannah even that takes too long so she's apparently just going to substitute at a private girls' school. (The episode ends with her printing out a resume and walking up to a building with the name St. Justine's on the front.)
What to think, folks? Read more here: Girls Close-Up Episode Review for some guesses as to how well/poorly she'll do, and watch the clip below for a preview of next week. Or check out Twitter, where folks seem fascinated and appalled.
Note that one of the characters on High Anxiety also doesn't know what to do and tries teaching. It doesn't go well. Plus there's the charter school/adultery thing on Togetherness, and the charter school thing on Parenthood (RIP). And let's not forget The New Girl. This may be Peak Education On TV.
Image via @tvtagGirls
There are lots of different ways to look at the new CPRE/UPennGSE report about social media and the Common Core debate, but at least one of them is to observe just how small a role journalists and non-advocacy media outlets seem to have been playing -- even in areas where you'd think that mainstream and trade publications who share out information all day would have a big advantage:
*Just 13 of 158 high-volume "transmitters" (8 percent) are journalists. "These include print, online, and radio media, and represent both non-partisan and partisan media entities." I've asked for a list.
*Just 22 (16 percent) of 139 "transceivers" (who pass information along and have their tweets shared) are journos/media outlets. They include @educationweek, @BenSwann (who?), and @ NEAMedia (not really a journalistic outlet). This is the list where journalists are strongest, relatively speaking -- journalism's wheelhouse, really. But journalists come in third. (List requested.)
*Just 3 media outlets qualify for the list of 41 "transcenders" (the elite group in the study). They are @educationweek, @StateEdWatch (penned by Andrew Ujifusa) & @ellemoxley. The report adds @NEAMedia to the list but again that's a whole different thing.
Of course, the study is limited to tweets directly related to Common Core, and a certain time period.Other kinds of criteria would surface larger numbers of journalists and education outlets that are high-volume, high-retweet, or high-influence.
But my sense is that the report illustrates a deeper dynamic, which is that journalists and media outlets lag far behind activists on the use of Twitter, in part because of the decline in traditional journalism but even more so because of self-imposed limitations on expressing views or attempting to shape the debate. Advocates, think tankers, and even academics have a green light that journalists don't.
Also, my sense is that journalists' experience of Twitter is mostly being tweeted at by those with complaints legitimate and others. Twitter is the "new comment section," it's being widely noted, and we all know how most journalists feel about comments. So there may be some avoidance going on.
Image used with permission. I found the PDF version easiest for word searches but maybe there are other, better ways to navigate. #htagcommoncore @cpreresearch @upennGSE.
-- Art teacher from "Boyhood," challenging unfocused protagonist to set some goals. See my tweets from last night for other tidbits (or try @mpolikoff or @smarick for edwonk #oscars2015 punditry).
The Test concludes with four strategies for dealing with tests.
Politico reported yesterday that the NYT will be filling the spot once held by Steven Greenhouse with TNR alum Noam Scheiber.
I'm no expert on Schieber and his work on politics and labor, but a quick Google Search shows up stories and Tweets about Cory Booker, Karen Lewis, and New Jersey politics that suggest that he's going to provide different coverage than his predecessor.
There are precious few reporters assigned to cover the labor beat, including folks at BuzzFeed and EdWeek and indie bloggers like Mike (EIA) Antonucci, and perhaps depending on how you view his work Dropout Nation's RiShawn Biddle. I don't think there's anyone covering labor for the Washington Post or NPR.
Here's the Kickstarter promo for the followup to "Race To Nowhere," via The Daily Riff.
Monday's AP story about the coming wave of states and districts administering the Common Core assessments this spring (Ohio Debuts New Digital Standardized Test This Week) has been making the rounds, as AP stories do.
Written in conjunction with the kickoff of Common Core testing this week, the piece includes some useful baseline information, including that by the end of this year 12 million students in 29 states plus DC will have taken the new tests, most of them using computers (75 percent for PARCC and 80-90 percent for SBAC).
But that doesn't mean the story is accurate or fair in terms of how it's shaped -- at least, not according to me.
There's nothing factually incorrect, far as I can tell (though the writers seem to have missed that Chicago officials are reconsidering their initial decision not to administer the assessment citywide).
The main issue I have with the story is that it focuses so much on what's not working, or might not work, or has been controversial in some places -- and leaves out much of what's seeming to go well and so much of what we know about the Common Core testing process from last year's field testing.
By the time you get to the end of the article you might well anticipate that things were about to go very, very badly for this spring's assessments.
But that's not really the case, far as I can tell -- and the AP reporters and editors who worked on the story should have know as much.
Big thanks to Hanover Research for including me (and several others) in its list of folks to follow in K-12 education. You might find some names and sites you don't already know on this list. And always remember to tweet your story more than once. Guy Kawasaki and others swear by it, and it's sort of fun.
"News articles and lawmakers frequently suggest that 1,800 college students die every year from binge drinking," notes the Washington Post's fact-checking page. "But there are no deaths directly linked to binge drinking in the calculation of this statistic." Wait, what? "In terms of alcohol poisoning from binge drinking, the actual number of deaths appears to be in the dozens."
Here's another distracting (and seemingly avoidable) correction on an otherwise-interesting education story: The NYT's Valentine's Day corrections included this addendum to its Sunday February 8th profile of Chancellor Farina, noting errors describing the demographic makeup of the district's gifted and talented program and and Joel Klein's correct middle initial. NYC's gifted and talented programs are "largely white and Asian, not largely white," notes the correction.