BEST OF THE WEEK
Education reporters did a really good job with timely stories about how the Medicaid cuts in the Senate health care proposal might affect school-based services and district budgets. For examples see AP, NYT, Washington Post, and AJC. They’d been somewhat slow to address school-related issues when the House passed its Obamacare replacement legislation. Crossed fingers there will be the same level of attention to these issues when the amended versions of the Senate proposal start coming out.
There was a big and much-needed surge of ESSA implementation coverage from 17 states that received ratings for their plans from the Collaborative for Student Success (a funder of The Grade) and Bellwether Associates. See ABQ Journal, CT Post, Detroit News, ChalkbeatTN, for example. Some outlets in states where the plans are still taking shape took notice as well, such as the LA Times. Coverage is still well below the levels we saw during the same stages of Race to the Top or NCLB implementation, but at least it’s trending in a positive direction. Check out US News for an overview piece, or The 74.
The Huffington Post’s Rebecca Klein updated us on the NAACP education task force, whose final report is coming out next month. Short version: Task force members are still very concerned about charter expansion. The piece isn’t quite as in-depth or revealing of internal tensions as Darren Sands’ long look at What Happened to Black Lives Matter? but it’s still a useful overview of the task force’s work and its likely next steps.
I missed this last week, but NPR’s Claudio Sanchez went back to see how a kindergartner he’d profiled 13 years ago was doing all this time later: A Kindergarten Story, 13 Years Later. It’s very sweet, and powerful — a good reminder of the benefits of checking back in on long-ago pieces we’ve written.
📰 Kyle Spencer wrote a fascinating piece Homeless students get support at HS, graduate for the Hechinger Report, a version of which aired on WNYC.
📰 The latest Natasha Singer piece, How Silicon Valley Pushed Coding Into American Classrooms, also came out.
📰 Lest anyone think that Silicon Valley types and tech behemoths can snap their fingers and make things happen in education, here’s EdSurge’s look back at What Happened to Amazon Inspire, the Tech Giant’s Education Marketplace?
📰 Education Dive and a handful of other outlets picked up a new poll showing Black and Latino parents cite funding disparities and racism as top contributors to educational inequity. See also LA School Report, and the Albuquerque Journal.
📰 Here’s Peg Tyre’s long-awaited piece on Bridge International, in this weekend’s NYT Sunday Magazine: Can a Tech Start-Up Successfully Educate Children in the Developing World?
FROM “THE GRADE”
This week’s column, written by Joseph Williams explores how reporters can do their jobs effectively even if they’re not given access to the agency or agency head they’re covering. There’s been a shit-ton of understandable complaining about lack of access to Betsy DeVos. It sucks for reporters used to easy access and lots of press releases and quick responses on topics of mutual interest, but lack of formal might work out for the better in terms of watchdog journalism. As one of the experts quoted in the piece notes, “Sometimes constraint lead to performance.”
I don’t know whether to cheer or jeer this WBEZ Education story about how well Chicago students perform compared with their counterparts in other parts of the state. The news is good. But for years it seemed WBEZ downplayed the progress and relative success of Chicago students and teachers. You’d never know that from reading the piece.
Also, there was a three-way kerfuffle on Twitter earlier in the week, featuring NPR’s Cory Turner, Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum , and some unpublished school voucher research out of Indiana. NPR published a story about the research, as did Chalkbeat. One of the researchers involved said that the preliminary version of the study shouldn’t have been released to Chalkbeat in the first place, which is why he went to NPR. Barnum – who had by all accounts been the one to flush the study into public view – had a take that was a bit different. My take? Here’s some of what the sausage-making of journalism can look like.
Upcoming columns from The Grade include a deep dive into coverage of the $17 million LAUSD board race last month, a review of mainstream national ESSA coverage, a close look at how the New York Times and others describes NYC’s high school matching program, and a look back at how the press has covered the education aspects of Black Lives Matter.
Further down the line: a case study about the LA Times’ 2010 publication of value-added scores for teachers suggests that education journalism reached “peak reform” around then, and swung back the other way in the following years. Only in the last year or so has coverage found a better balance – I think.
PEOPLE, PLACES, & THINGS
Nikole Hannah-Jones gave a keynote speech at #IRE focusing in part on the need for greater diversity in journalism. Newsrooms too white, Nikole Hannah-Jones, says at #IRE17 awards luncheon. “We’re losing out in great talent” & missing big stories… You want more diverse newsrooms? Then hire people of color. There you go. It’s not that hard.” There’s apparently not any video, but Emily Hopkins helpfully reconstructed the speech here.
Then, a whole lot of white guys got IRE awards, and Twitter took notice: “Something very odd about seeing so many white men win IRE awards after a keynote about diversity in reporting” …”Soooo many white faces on winners’ screen at #IRE17 awards.”… “When will the white men finally get their day to shine?!”
While we’re on the topic of #IRE17, there are lots of resources and tipsheets for folks who weren’t there. Here’s Francisco Vara-Orta’s blog post on tips for covering special education stories here are Eva Park’s slides on the same subject. For some ideas about diversifying your sources: Going beyond the community leader. Also: Investigating disability issues, Investigating sexual abuse (by the folks from AP who did a big piece on sexual assault in schools). Skim them all here: Tipsheets and Links.
Kavitha Cardoza got some nice recognition for her work with the Economic Hardship Reporting Project while she was still at WAMU.
There’s a nice mention by Jason Kottke for Anya Kamenetz’s new book on family screen time. “Enjoy screens. Not too much. Mostly with others.”
The NEA denied Mike Antonucci access to its annual convention this year, breaking a 19-year streak of reporting about obscure resolutions and union infighting.
Oops! The Dallas Morning News and other news orgs wrongly reported that 1 in 25 kids witnessed a shooting last year, according to the DMN.
The Hechinger Report has launched an old-school letters to the editor section.
The Central Park Five were honored at Bronx Prep graduation ceremony http://bit.ly/2tXEWhK
North Jersey teen, among first Syrian refugees in U.S., graduates near top of class – http://NorthJersey.com
New Yorker: “Before the Internet, you could move to a new state and no one at school would know anything about you.”
Previous editions of the newsletter & a signup form can be found here.