BEST OF THE WEEK
📰 The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers https://t.co/uwFcvrsKKO
— The Grade (@thegrade_) May 12, 2017
VOUCHERS: Friday’s NPR story about vouchers in Indiana might have been the best-liked education news story this week. Speaking for myself, I appreciated its balance and enjoyed its visuals — interactives and charts. Is there an audio version? Not that I was able to find.
WBEZ Chicago: Reporter Becky Vevea produced a story about efforts to revive neighborhood high schools, which have often been left out of choice-based school revitalization initiatives.
DEVOS SPEECH: There was a ton of coverage of the DeVos speech at an historically black college in Florida, but I’m not sure any of it stands out. See PBS. Did the event warrant all the attention the media gave it, including sending reporters down there? I guess it did. But I’m not sure that readers learned much, or that the coverage I saw got very far below the surface.
PUBLIC OPINION: Meanwhile, a new poll showing how Americans feel about college came out, showing among other things that white Americans are particularly skeptical about its benefits. The Chronicle covered that here.
LAUSD ELECTIONS: You might not have noticed, but Interested parties are spending record amounts on LAUSD’s school board election (Tuesday). See here and here. But the story doesn’t seem to have any national resonance – perhaps because it’s no longer a new story, and so few other big-city school systems have elected school boards any more.
CLOUT IN DC: Another story that hasn’t gotten as much attention as I would have expected is the unfolding story of preferential treatment for VIPs in the DC Public Schools system. Two mayoral appointees (including former schools chief Kaya Henderson) apparently allowed seven kids (including an Obama staffer’s kid) to bypass the normal lottery system – an allowed but controversial procedure that has been all but banned in other places like Chicago after its use was revealed shortly after Arne Duncan left.
WAMU’s Martin Austermuhle (the new Kavitha) is on the story here, as is DCist here. The Post’s Pete Jamison has been all over it, including Boswer’s claim that the IG made an error. She’s since declared that the process needs tightening. But nobody’s seen the report, and education news outlets I watch have been missing (or very slow) on the story. You’d think the Times, Politico, the Post’s education team, and others would be all over this one. Maybe they’re working on it.
FROM THE GRADE
This week’s new column (by contributor Amadeus Harte) focused on diversity among education news organizations, finding that it remains a stubborn problem that many folks don’t want to talk about publicly. A large number of education news organizations appear to have staffs that are 75 percent or more white. But we don’t know for sure, because just five of 11 organizations released racial diversity stats this year. And the decision to use staff pictures and social media to estimate racial diversity for outlets that declined to respond generated a lot of concern among some journalists.
The Hechinger Report was among the outlets that didn’t provide newsroom diversity figures this year.
Other journalism tidbits:
We should all be concerned about a West Virginia reporter who was arrested trying to get answers to questions from Trump’s HHS secretary. I can imagine something like that happening to a stubborn education reporter, can’t you?
More and more nonprofit education news outlets are putting out codes of conduct to reassure readers and funders that their work is legit. Chalkbeat published its code a while back. Ethics. Now The 74 has one.
Email newsletters are all the rage (again.) CJR listed 11 newsletters that media professionals should subscribe to, including the Ida B. Wells Society newsletter. I would also recommend subscribing to The Grade (here).
In a panel discussion last week, folks took a look back at the Question 2 fight last fall in Massachusetts and at least some of the participants thought that local media played a big part in swaying voters. I didn’t address local outlets in the column I wrote about the coverage a few months ago, but there were certainly strengths & weaknesses to the coverage from Boston-focused outlets.
There didn’t seem to be any big fake education news this week, but CNN’s Ryan Cillizza pointed out that Democrats are getting caught pushing stories about Trump that got covered but then turned out not to be true, which of course is a warning for all of us.
PEOPLE PLACES THINGS
Big education news of the week was EWA’s announcement of its new ‘Global Lens’ Education Reporting Fellows, which were awarded to familiar names like Amanda Ripley, Kavitha Cardoza, and Hechinger’s Sarah B. Congrats to all.
EWA also released its conference schedule, which does not include a speech by EdSec DeVos. It’s not a surprise, but it’s a disappointment. EdWeek’s Mark Walsh has the details here.
Speaking of The 74, its new news roundup, TopSheet, launched this week, resembling an updated version of the Real Clear Education roundup (because: Emmeline and Andy). Great name, I have to admit. But a super crowded field.
There’s precious little education news published in Spanish, despite large numbers of Spanish-speaking parents out there. According to the Marshall Project, Spanish-language news is much more focused on immigration and deportation issues than DC politics, which might be something to think about for those of us who write English-language news. (To be fair, some outlets are covering immigration-related school news.)
Last but not least, seven years ago this week was the official launch of the @hechingerreport. Before that, the Columbia University-based organization had focused on professional development for education journalists. Congrats to all. It’s been a big success over all.
On Comedy Central’s new The President Show, Trump goes to visit a school and ends up participating in playtime, reading time, and even nap time. He likes it so much he doesn’t want to leave.