February 22, 2011
I spent last Friday at the Carnegie Corporation of New York along with a handful of other teacher bloggers and a number of education journalists for an Education Writers Association seminar on “The Promise and Pitfalls of Improving the Teaching Profession.” I hope to write more about the experience soon, but despite some major flaws in the setup of the event, I walked away with an overwhelming sense of excitement. This was in part from having met some wonderful, like-minded educators, but it was also because of the many wonderful conversations I had with journalists from around the country who are genuinely interested in getting better at their jobs, asking tough questions, and then actually listening to what the teachers have to say.
In talking with some of the journalists during and after the conference, many said that they didn’t come away with many story ideas, so I thought I would take the time to give some suggestions here for some good, meaty education stories that are out there for which I have not seen much reporting. I shared the idea with my colleagues in attendance, some of whom beat me to the punch. I’ve linked to their posts below.
Why would anyone want to be a teacher?: I can’t remember how many times on Friday when, after describing one of the many challenges we face, a reporter asked me why anyone in his or her right mind would choose to become a teacher these days. There are a number of great pieces to be written looking for the answers.
Parental Views of Good Teaching: There is much conversation and debate around evaluating teaching performance, but I would love to read a piece about what parents want for their students at different levels. This could be a great series: How does this change from early years through high school? Does this vary by class, race, ethnicity?
Accountability for Administrators: There has been widespread national dialogue recently on increasing accountability for teachers; however, there has been little examination of what accountability for administrators does and should look like. I would love to see a story examining how principals are held accountable throughout the country.
The Testing Industry: With new national Common Core Standards, there is a giant windfall for testing companies who will be paid to develop these new tests. Who are these companies? Who works for them? How do they know what their tests measure? What is the definition of a good test, anyway?
Where did all the central administration’s money go?: The Klein/Black/Bloomberg Department of Education has been proud that it has cut its central administration budget and put this money “back” into schools. However, with an increase in the number of schools, are there more administrators at the school level? And with every school having to “pay” for services from a network, is there any difference in how much money makes its way to students?
The Consortium for Performance Assessment: Operating without much public attention, 28 high schools have waivers from content-based Regents Exams. Instead, their students complete rigorous performance assessments. Most of these schools survive from an earlier wave of the small schools movement in the early 1990s. How do these schools’ students fare in college and life compared to others from more traditional schools in the city?
Other teachers’ ideas for news stories: