Best education journalism of the week (October 6, 2017)

the grade hed



Principal Wanda Alvarez stands on the remains of the private school El Eden Paraiso Infantil in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico. Via Miami Herald.

Storm recovery is still one of the biggest education stories out there, and I’m happy to say that lots of reporters and outlets are doing strong work. See the Miami Herald, the Orlando SentinelWLRNABC NewsWashington Post,  Miami Herald (again), NPR (this morning), and VNews.

The one unfortunate exception would have to be AP, whose recent Hurricane Maria roundup implied that Puerto Rico isn’t part of the US. Hat tip to @CMT_82 for flagging the issue, and kudos to the outlets that changed the headline before publishing the story. “Mainland” is much better.


Social media images of some of the victims, including educators and school staff.

Several outlets reported out that some of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting were teachers and other school personnel. See PeopleNYT, and EdWeek.

LA School Report took it a step further and told us that the shooter had attended two LA-area schools. (Remember, we learned from the Orlando shooting that the federal privacy law known as FERPA doesn’t apply to deceased persons.)


This EdSource heatmap shows the percentage of an estimated 200,000 homeless students as reported by California’s more than 10,000 schools. Read the story here.

ProPublica: Intensive recruitment + poor student outcomes. And the state keeps paying for it. 

PBS NewsHour: At an innovative high school, students get support battling their addictions while they learn 

Chicago Tribune: IL allows educators to bypass some exams, courses for teacher licensing – Tribune 

Clarion Ledger: Why students are ignorant about the civil rights movement

US News: The Evolution of Betsy DeVos and Private School Choice


This week’s column, written by New America’s Conor Williams, praises the increased coverage of English-language learners and immigrant students but notes that the coverage is generally superficial and incomplete.

One exception that came to our attention after the piece was published was the Connecticut Mirror’s Language Wars series. That’s great. Tell us about any others?


The journalistic ethics/disclosure debate of the week came with Dropout Nation’s report that The Atlantic received over $1.1 million in event sponsorship fees from the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in 2016, but the news outlet hasn’t seemed to have disclosed the financial relationship in its education coverage.

I’m told that events make up less than a fifth of The Atlantic’s revenues, and that the relationship with the AFT is not a new one.  Vox and Politico also received funding from the AFT for events and sponsorships.

However, this was the AFT’s largest single grant amount of the year, according to the chart prepared by Dropout Nation. The amount is more than the AFT gave to any of its state affiliates, notes union critic Mike Antonucci. And some of the recent pieces published at The Atlantic (most especially “Americans Have Given Up on Public Schools,” by Erika Christakis) have been perceived as ideological by reform supporters, and as we all know trust in the media is pretty low. So maybe it’s time for The Atlantic to put a disclosure at the bottom of its education pieces?

Disclosure: The Grade has received funding from several sources over the past two years, including the AFT, the Gates Foundation, the Broad Foundation, and others.


In addition, there was also some discussion on Twitter about whether economist Jesse Rothstein should have been identified as an occasional AFT consultant in a recent Atlantic story penned by Rachel Cohen about the limits of education when it comes to economic mobility.

My view is that the Berkeley economist and Opportunity Lab co-director should have been identified by his AFT relationship, even though the research he was discussing is not directly related to the $25,000 AFT consulting gig. In the service of giving readers context about who’s being quoted, experts are often ID’d by funding source, political or ideological affiliation. Identifying funding sources has become common in news stories where other funders are involved. So there shouldn’t be a double standard about this.

Others, including writers Cohen and Matt Barnum, disagree about the necessity and viability of this approach.  Any thoughts?


Banterability: “I feel terrible for journalists who invest time and effort into doing a hard job well only to have it presented like this.” [Me, too.]

“Every day I experience how New York government agencies avoid releasing public records,” writes Brian Rosenthal (formerly of the Houston Chronicle). “Here’s more proof via @The74.”

Minneapolis Was Once State’s Largest District. Then School Choice Happened. Check out EWA Radio interview with the intrepid reporters behind the recent Star Tribune series.

Listen to Malcolm Gladwell talk about an alternative view of the Brown school desegregation decision on his show, Revisionist History.



Las Vegas-based AP education writer Sally Ho (above) has been deeply involved in the Las Vegas shooting coverage.

Portland education writer Beth Slovic is being sued by the Portland schoolsover her FOIA requests, reports EWA’s Emily Richmond.


I have not been at #ONA17 this week, but several education writers have been. What’d you learn? Maybe something about the Trusting News initiative, which seems pretty interesting.

On Saturday in NYC, a handful of journalists are going to appear on a panel as part of researchED. Alas, I am not among them.

NBC News’ Education Nation is back, apparently, next week in Boston.

The 2017 Network For Public Education conference later this month in Oakland features advocates, academics, & journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

The 2017 conference of The National Coalition on School Diversity is being held October 19-20 in NYC. I’m going to try and make it. You?


The ProPublica Local Reporting Network has been announced. “We want to help create journalism that’s not just about underserved communities but that also emanates from them.” Also because local news is still getting crushed.

EWA is looking for a Web & Multimedia Specialist.


BRIGHT magazine tells us “We’re relocating to @the_bright_mag. Please follow us there for more great stories on innovation in education.”


Before becoming a politician, Justin Trudeau was a high school teacher. He taught French, drama, and math:

ALEXANDER RUSSO (@alexanderrusso) is editor of The Grade.

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