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Media: Not Enough School Leaks

image from assets.nydailynews.comThe Pentagon leaks, the White House leaks, but where are all the leaks in education? I can only think of a few.  The RTTT winners stayed secret until they were announced.  So did the judges' identities.  Superintendent searches regularly remain closed until the winner is announced.  Ditto for the announcement that Obama had chosen Duncan, though his name was no surprise.  Hell, we don't even get mug shots of DUI state and district superintendents that the Drudge Report has made de rigeur for everyone else.  It's not just recent events.  Eight years later, no one's still detailed the conversations (or documents) that took place between the Hill and the White House that led Miller and Kennedy to say they NCLB appropriations should follow authorized levels.  Is it that no one cares that much about education, or that education reporters are too close to their sources?  Maybe it's FERPA.  Yes, that's it.  I blame FERPA. Exceptions?  The list of 15 states getting extra help from Gates got out.  News of the occasional test cheating scandal gets out, too.  And I guess you could call Reading First. What am I missing? 


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Its just a question of supply and demand, and the solution to the leak shortage is better incentives. A pay for leaks program sponsored by the Village Voice would help. But mostly we just need higher expectations for lay readers. And surely as the RttT competition captures the public's attention, the market for insider information on growth targets, dis-aggregated outcomes, plans for revoking tenure, and scaling up best practices will take off. Surely, by the time NCLB II is renewed, newspaper readers will become 100% Proficient in differientiating between outliers and state-of-the-art Value Added Models.

My guess is that many ed reporters aren't CLOSE ENOUGH to their sources, or don't have enough sources, or don't work them enough. Most leaks come because someone wants to (a) damage or (b) promote someone or something, or gain some political advantage. When I covered local school systems as an ed reporter, the leaks came mostly from school board members who were jockeying for power and position. Nietzsche said, "Beware of those in whom the impulse to punish is powerful." But call them frequently.

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