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What We Read to Keep On California 'On'

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By David Menefee-Libey and Charles Taylor Kerchner

Readers have asked us how to keep up with what's happening in California.  Reading 'On California,' and following us on Twitter, is a good way, the best in our estimation.  But what do we read?  And what do we recommend to our readers?  Here's an incomplete and changing list.

We read four kinds of sources to keep up with developments in K-12 education in California.  We'll update and re-post this occasionally: we invite readers to suggest others.

First, daily journalism:

  • Of course, we start with EdWeek, particularly Andrew Ujifusa's "State EdWatch," Stephen Sawchuk's "Teacher Beat," Lesli Maxwell and Denisa Superville's "District Dossier," and Alyson Klein and Lauren Camera's "Politics K-12."  There are many others we read, too, that connect less explicitly or less frequently with California.  (How does Ginny Edwards get all this talent?)

 There are also several California-based outlets that focus on education:

  • The Cabinet Report, published by School Innovations & Achievement, focuses strongly on finance and management issues but covers other topics as well.
  • EdSource, an organization that recently shifted its main focus from policy research reports to daily coverage, with strong Sacramento reporting. 
  • Capital and Main, more of an investigative journalism site with a progressive bent. 
  • The LA School Report covers the Los Angeles metro region and the state's largest school district, but gives a lot of space to statewide issues, too. 
  • The Hechinger Report, though based in New York, covers the California beat some.

 We also look to "digesters" that compile links to each day's stories:

  • The best is Rough and Tumble, which covers California government and politics.
  • The Education Writers Association's "Latest News" blog occasionally hits a California story.

Add also, a couple of California-based blogs.  Walt Gardner's Reality Check is at EdWeek.org, and Anthony Cody's Living in Dialogue has just migrated to a new home.

We try to check out the daily newspapers as well, in case Rough and Tumble missed something.  The Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register, and San Diego Union are the most important, and there are dozens more.

Second, non-profit, foundation- and university-based research shops:

Many of the public and private universities around the state publish research reports as well, and many have specialized shops like the Civil Rights Project, which is based at UCLA.  We try to check on those occasionally as well.

It's harder to learn about and keep track of more specialized K-12 shops across the state, but there are excellent ones.  We welcome suggestions.

Third, advocacy organizations with diverse interests and values who publish reports:

  • The Education Trust has an affiliate called EdTrust-West, which advocates especially for low-income children and children at risk. 
  • The Broad Foundation, one of the most visible and effective supporters of what we call the corporate approach to school reform, is based in Los Angeles and often focuses on California. 
  • Students Matter, the sponsors of the Vergara litigation, is broadening its focus to the national scene, but still has a strong interest in California ed policy.  Democrats for Education Reform re-established its California branch on July 28, and we expect they will begin to publish reports.
  • The California Teachers Association is the state's NEA affiliate union.
  • The California Federation of Teachers is the state's AFT affiliate.

Fourth, the world of Twitter offers endless links.  All of the outlets above are on Twitter, of course.  A few others that we follow:

  • Howard Blum (@howardblum) the Los Angeles Times, senior education reporter.
  • Adolfo Guzman-Lopez (@AGuzmanLopez) covers K-12 for KPCC, the highest-profile NPR affiliate in Southern California.
  • John Fensterwald (@JFenster) covers California ed policy for EdSource, with particular attention on Sacramento.
  • Alexander Russo (@AlexanderRusso) is an excellent freelancer with good sources in California and a well-informed take on the state.
  • Gene Glass (@GeneVGlass), a long-time ed policy researcher now at UColorado-Boulder, gets what's going on nationally and his insights have important implications for California.

Please suggest more.  Oh, and please follow us at @CTKerchner and @DMenefeeLibey.  We try to Tweet things we find especially notable.

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