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Chalkbeat New York Joins the Big Apple 'In' List

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It's a new year, and in New York City that includes a new mayor and a new schools chancellor. And now, the new year is bringing to completion the transformation of a web site that covers the city's schools.

One of those New Year's in-and-out lists would put it like this:

OUT: Michael R. Bloomberg IN: Bill de Blasio

OUT: Dennis Walcott IN: Carmen Fariña

OUT: GothamSchools IN: Chalkbeat New York, at least as the new incarnation of GothamSchools.

The redesigned news site launched Tuesday morning, with some new features to go with its steady stream of news about the nation's largest public school system.

"We're building a place not only for good stories, but for other features as well, such as topic pages," said Elizabeth Green, the co-founder of GothamSchools and the executive editor of Chalkbeat, a national network of four local education news sites.

The top story this morning was "Transition at Tweed: Introducing herself, schools boss is full of personality but light on details." Chalkbeat hung out with Fariña as she met N.Y.C. Department of Education employees at the system's headquarters at Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan.

Fariña told staff members to call her "Carmen," the story says, but "if I have a look on my face that says I've been through hell and back, maybe that's not the time to call me Carmen."

I reported in October that Chalkbeat was the new brand identity for the Education News Network, which included GothamSchools, EdNews Colorado, and new sites that were opening in Indianapolis and Memphis. The latter two, Chalkbeat Indiana and Chalkbeat Tennessee, are now joined by Chalkbeat Colorado and Chalkbeat New York.

Green said in our chat this week that now that all four sites have been up and running for several months, there are clearly common stories to be found from New York City to Indianapolis to Memphis to Denver.

"Indianapolis is off the hook," Green said. "There is a complete hailstorm of coverage to do there. The state board has been pretty much at war with itself. The voter-elected superintendent is at war with the governor. The back story to all of that is really a debate over accountability."

"There's a similar story in New York City about the pushback against accountability," Green said. "Now, what does that look like in the post-Bloomberg era?"

Green and Chalkbeat New York Bureau Chief Philissa Cramer told readers in a note on Tuesday that they will focus on three areas to "cover deeply" in the coming year: implementation of the Common Core State Standars, admissions and enrollment, and teacher evaluations. 

"We've chosen these focus areas because they are areas of dynamic—or potentially dynamic—change that matter to many people who interact with the city's schools every day and have implications for educational improvement efforts far beyond New York City," Green and Cramer write.

Here's a New Year's toast to Chalkbeat New York. 

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