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March 26, 2007

Getting "UnSpun"

Tired of not knowing what to believe and suspecting that you're being manipulated? Me, too. Oh, you mean about all those think tank reports? I thought we were talking about something else. Read FactCheck.org's new book, UnSpun, which tells you how to know when you're being spun, and what to do a...

March 26, 2007

"Citizen Journalism" At Work On The Education Beat

For the second time in recent months, the folks who read and comment on my Chicago blog have -- with very little help from me -- surfaced some serious problems going on in a school. Both times, it started with an email from a reader raising a concern or posing a question for discussion on the blog....

March 23, 2007

In Praise Of Education Journalism

There's not a lot of praise out there for the hard work that education reporters do, so here's Mike Antonucci in praise of a couple of education stories: Scott Elliott and William Hershey of the Dayton Daily News examine the conventional wisdom that school district consolidation saves money, and ...

March 19, 2007

Searching For Solutions: A Columnist's Version Of "What Works"

becoming dad leonard pitts.jpg
Like many others, Pulitzer prize winning Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts (who also wrote the book Becoming Dad, left) eventually got sick of hearing about problems related to poverty and kids, and starting looking for solutions. On NPR's Talk Of The Nation (listen here), Pitts talks with Neil Conant about programs he's found -- some new, some familiar (ie, Harlem Children's Zone) -- and takes listener calls about their ideas.Or, read the first couple of his columns here: Finding what works for kids, and What works. As you might expect, not all the programs are proven, replicable, or politically viable, but the desire for solutions is completely understandable and some of the ideas may be new or eye-opening.

March 16, 2007

Pedagogy Or Politics -- What Makes A "Real" Education Story?

richard_colvin.jpg
A week after the fact, Richard Lee Colvin finally posts something about Reading First (here). Really getting into the blogging spirit, he mocks my (admitted) over-enthusiasm for the RF story and (mysteriously) my Beltway credentials, and then lectures us about whole language, the National Reading Panel, etc. He cites the pros and cons of whole language, debunks the notion that RF is as prescriptive as some see it to be, and yet is delightfully polite in refusing to name Diana Jean Schemo, the NYT reporter who wrote the story he's criticizing (below right). diana jean schemo.jpgClearly, Colvin could have written this story much better than anyone. Where I have real issue with Colvin, though, is this notion that Schemo's story needed to be more about classroom instruction, to appeal to narrow reader interests (specifically to "parents of children learning to read"), and to be less about the politics of the situation. Ideally, the story could have been about all these things, of course, and to be sure Schemo seems to have gotten some things wrong, but people read stories that don't involve them directly all the time, and in this case the scandal and the politics are the story. Nobody would be reading it -- or assigning it -- without them. And that's OK. In my mind, at least, education reporters need to understand the non-instructional issues (power, politics, money, ideology) in order to have any chance of understanding what they're observing in schools and classrooms and finding real avenues to change. Previous posts: Colvin Joins The Blogosphere: A Hearty Welcome & Some Unsolicited Advice, Journalism Guru Richard Lee Colvin On The HotSeat, Education Writers: Who's Who -- And Where Are They Now?

March 16, 2007

The Magazines Take On Education Issues

For better or worse, the national weeklies (Time, Newsweek, USNews) occasionally take on education issues. Here are a couple of this week's offerings, both interesting: Is a Top School Forcing Out Low-Performing Students? Time Jasmine Boulware was forced to leave Myers Park High School in February...

March 16, 2007

Friday Morning News (March 16)

Seattle Offers Lessons in Bridging Achievement Gap NPR In Seattle, the public school system's efforts to bridge that gap, despite limited resources, offer a window into the challenges facing school districts across the country. No Child Left Behind law faces change AP Key Democrats who control the...

March 15, 2007

The Perils Of Being Against NCLB

Love him or hate him, Rush Limbaugh's got an infuriatingly good way with rhetoric, as illustrated by his riff on the idea of rolling back NCLB: "So they're out there lobbying Congress to reduce this 100% target and delay the 2014 deadline," according to Rush Limbaugh ( Democrats Demand We Leave Som...

March 15, 2007

Thursday Morning News (March 15)

Dozens in GOP Turn Against Bush's Prized 'No Child' Act Wash Post More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate -- including the House's second-ranking Republican -- will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush's signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Be...

March 14, 2007

Schmoozing The New Guy

Reporters who are new to the education beat have several challenges in front of them, including learning a ton of new information, figuring out how to get and keep their editor's and readers' attention, and figuring out who's who and who to trust in the education world -- all the while being schmooz...

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