Best education news of the week





It was hard not to be moved by coverage of the collapse of a Mexico City elementary school and the race to save survivors. However, there was also certain amount of confusion in the reporting, especially around the news of a single lost girl thought to be alive under the rubble. Check Snopes for the scoop on that.

 Education reporting on the hurricane recovery efforts in Texas and Florida was steady and strong, including this Washington Post piece about kids returning to school and a Miami Herald piece about school workers doing double duty at 42 schools operating as shelters. Miami public radio explored reasons why charter schools don’t serve as hurricane shelters.


State, local, and trade coverage of this week’s ESSA deadline was strong and full of interesting storylines. Check out EdSource, PennLive, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, ChalkbeatIN, WQAD, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Des Moines Register, among many others. EdWeek’s Daarel Burnette wrote a great roundup of in-state conflicts, which easily could have been a mainstream story.

But alas it was 189ef855-b02a-4abd-918c-a9948653e28f 189ef855-b02a-4abd-918c-a9948653e28f 189ef855-b02a-4abd-918c-a9948653e28f  from most of the larger national mainstream outlets.


Check out the Minneapolis Star-Tribune series about the “rising exodus” of 130,000 students from their home [assigned?] districts, written by Mary Jo Webster and Beena Raghavendran. 

In the New Yorker, Tasneem Raja wrote about about the fifty-year-old fight over Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler, Texas.

Rachel Cohen wrote an Intercept story about investigations of a pro-charter school nonprofit for its illicit campaign contributions.

In The Atlantic, Amanda Ripley wrote the much-discussed feature article, “Why Are Middle Eastern Girls Crushing Boys in School?,” which was produced with support from the Education Writers Association Reporting Fellowship program.



First, we found out that Betsy DeVos’s 163-foot yacht was docked in Milwaukee. (Actually, it’s her father-in-law’s boat, but close enough, right?)

Then we found out that she was flying her own private plane for work travel – one of at least three Trump cabinet members to be doing that.

For a second, I thought the headlines were telling us that DeVos was Flying. Her. Own. Plane. (You know, herself, Harrison Ford-style.) Anyone else? Anyone?

Oh, and DeVos danced with a high school mascot during a recent visit, which you gotta admit was sort of cute. Or maybe you don’t. 



The big new column of the week lamented the mystifying lack of national news coverage of the state ESSA plans from mainstream outlets this past week.

Yes, ESSA is a bureaucratic story, and complicated to describe from end to end. But sometimes bureaucratic stories are important, and it’s reporters’ jobs to make those stories comprehensible and compelling. This is one of those times.

As illustrated in the column, there actually are lots of ways to pull it off. 


📰  Why, ProPublica? The investigative juggernaut came out with a story headlined “Failing Charter Schools Have a Reincarnation Plan,” about failing charter schools converting to privates in search of voucher and tax credit revenue. But only 16 schools have made this move over seven years.

📰  How did the Ref Rodriguez story (of illegal campaign contributions in his LA School Board race) go undiscovered for so long? Was the story just sitting out there all along? Yes, actually, it was. SCPR’s Annie Gilbertson noted it in 2015.

The previous instance when widespread awareness of an education scandal has been muted or delayed is former Chicago schools superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s $20 million SUPES contract, which was initially uncovered by Catalyst Chicago two years before the story broke big.

📰  On his blog, AEI education head Rick Hess pointed out (quite rightly) that coverage of the Trump budget request (featuring education cuts) was hyperbolic, given the cuts’ unlikelihood of enactment.

📰  Who’s worse? School districts like Portland that sue people who request records, or charter networks who claim their officials aren’t subject to open records law because they work for private nonprofits? I can’t decide. Both.



The Root named Nikole Hannah-Jones #50 on its new list of the 100 Most Influential African Americans.

🔥  Hannah-Jones has just gone out on book leave, and she’s also the focus of Columbia Journalism Review I’m working on, slated for next month. These two things are not the same. 

🔥  EdWeek’s Alyson Klein scored a sit-down interview with EdSec DeVos and asked the tough questions you would expect Alyson Klein to ask.

🔥  The Hechinger Report’s Emmanuel Felton was on both WNYC and EWA Radio, talking about his recent story about federal oversight of schools resegregating.

🔥  There are K-12 education reporting jobs at Bloomberg BNA and the Courier-Journal, and the Seattle Times, and a higher ed spot open at CALmatters.

🔥  There’s a new initiative called Report For America that is modeled somewhat on – you guessed it – Teach For America.



Two weeks ago, the New York Times Sunday Magazine (erroneously) claimed that white parents in DC were flocking to private schools. The story has since been corrected, and last weekend, DC Public Schools got a big Emmy shoutout from Dave Chappelle (above) and John Oliver.  

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

No comments yet. Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

WP_User Object ( [data] => stdClass Object ( [ID] => 4 [user_login] => russo [user_pass] => $P$BpKmMvWeGEporGqZWX8UQmwrN84I5Q/ [user_nicename] => russo [user_email] => [user_url] => [user_registered] => 2016-11-09 20:17:42 [user_activation_key] => [user_status] => 0 [display_name] => Alexander Russo ) [ID] => 4 [caps] => Array ( [administrator] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_view] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_edit] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_edit_others] => 1 ) [cap_key] => wp_capabilities [roles] => Array ( [0] => administrator ) [allcaps] => Array ( [switch_themes] => 1 [edit_themes] => 1 [activate_plugins] => 1 [edit_plugins] => 1 [edit_users] => 1 [edit_files] => 1 [manage_options] => 1 [moderate_comments] => 1 [manage_categories] => 1 [manage_links] => 1 [upload_files] => 1 [import] => 1 [unfiltered_html] => 1 [edit_posts] => 1 [edit_others_posts] => 1 [edit_published_posts] => 1 [publish_posts] => 1 [edit_pages] => 1 [read] => 1 [level_10] => 1 [level_9] => 1 [level_8] => 1 [level_7] => 1 [level_6] => 1 [level_5] => 1 [level_4] => 1 [level_3] => 1 [level_2] => 1 [level_1] => 1 [level_0] => 1 [edit_others_pages] => 1 [edit_published_pages] => 1 [publish_pages] => 1 [delete_pages] => 1 [delete_others_pages] => 1 [delete_published_pages] => 1 [delete_posts] => 1 [delete_others_posts] => 1 [delete_published_posts] => 1 [delete_private_posts] => 1 [edit_private_posts] => 1 [read_private_posts] => 1 [delete_private_pages] => 1 [edit_private_pages] => 1 [read_private_pages] => 1 [delete_users] => 1 [create_users] => 1 [unfiltered_upload] => 1 [edit_dashboard] => 1 [update_plugins] => 1 [delete_plugins] => 1 [install_plugins] => 1 [update_themes] => 1 [install_themes] => 1 [update_core] => 1 [list_users] => 1 [remove_users] => 1 [promote_users] => 1 [edit_theme_options] => 1 [delete_themes] => 1 [export] => 1 [wpseo_bulk_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_post_type_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_taxonomy_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_view] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_edit] => 1 [wpcf_custom_field_edit_others] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_view] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_edit] => 1 [wpcf_user_meta_field_edit_others] => 1 [wpseo_manage_options] => 1 [administrator] => 1 ) [filter] => ) 4 | 4