Posts tagged "back story"
February 27, 2009
The news about the news profession is pretty depressing these days, and the news about local news is especially dismal. (Goodbye, Rocky Mountain News.) But I’m happy to report that education reporters are not letting the school news disappear without a fight.
Here’s a run-down of some relatively new efforts to keep local school journalism alive in the new media atmosphere:
- In Dayton, editorial writer Scott Elliott has won awards for his Get on the Bus ed blog.
- Kent Fischer of Dallas innovates with his Dallas ISD blog, whose readers helped him dig up big scoops.
- Emily Alpert of the new online-only, donation-funded Voice of San Diego writes great in-depth stories.
- The long-running site about the Philadelphia schools, The Notebook, has started a blog.
- Catalyst Chicago has a blog, and Russo’s Chicago schools blog is going strong. So is Catalyst Ohio.
- L.A. Times reporters give regular updates on the schools at a blog called L.A. Now.
- The Journal News, a lower-upstate New York paper, has a Hall Monitor education blog.
- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a blog called Get Schooled.
- A live-blog of a superintendent search was the recent topic at The Houston Chronicle’s School Zone.
- A D.C. writer has started a chronicle of school news there.
The new reporting format certainly has its problems. But innovation will be the only way for good journalism about schools to survive, and the only way to keep the new efforts up to par is to keep track of “best practices.” Please keep up the critiques of our coverage, and please send more good local education news sites that I missed. Or lay it all out in the comments.
February 20, 2009
The national branch of our local teachers union apparently has decided that the story of the KIPP charter school network’s alleged resistance to a unionizing drive is a national story. I just got a fancy memorandum from the American Federation of Teachers’ press office addressed to “Education Writers.” The memo, titled “KIPP AMP Unionization Facts,” summarizes the story and offers to put journalists in touch with the Brooklyn teachers waging the campaign.
It includes more detailed language describing one of the accusations than I had heard before:
Under the guise of discussing testing, school leaders met with students and asked them for “dirt” on the teachers who favor unionization. As inappropriate as that is on its face, the meeting also took place during the school day, interfering with instructional time. This behavior does not fit into KIPP’s five pillars: high expectations, choice and commitment, more time, power to lead and focus on results.
I called Dave Levin, the superintendent of New York City KIPP schools, for comment not too long ago but haven’t heard back yet.
Here’s the full memo: (more…)
November 13, 2008
Now that the Democrats for Education Reform memo recommending education choices for Obama is circulating, people are asking me who DFER is and if they’re important.
The short answer is that they’re the ones who are stoking the war inside the Democratic Party over education. But we don’t yet know how influential they are, because the ultimate coup for them would be to get the names they want into the U.S. Department of Education — and to block the names that pointedly are not on their list. (A co-chair to Obama’s education advisory committee, Linda Darling-Hammond, is one of those people.) We won’t know whether they can do that until Obama actually makes appointments.
Now for the longer answer. (more…)
November 4, 2008
The Times today has a new profile of Eva Moskowitz, the politician-turned-school operator who is at the helm of the four Harlem Success Academy charter schools. I say new because this is actually the second full-length profile of Moskowitz the Times has run. (The first is here.)
Why pay so much attention to this charter school operator, amid the sea of them? I’ll give two reasons.
First, Eva Moskowitz is not just trying to improve public schools by creating better ones in Harlem. She is testing a theory of politics. Three years ago, after becoming a living legend in her tenure as head of the City Council education committee, holding drama-filled hearings that took on the mayor as strongly as the teachers union, Moskowitz tried to take her political career to the next level by running for Manhattan borough president. She lost in 2005 to Scott Stringer, a defeat that was in no small part thanks to the enemies she made as a tough committee head.
But Moskowitz did not jump out of the limelight. In fact, the opposite: she still declares her intention to run for mayor one day. Whether she really will run for mayor, she is trying to prove a point: that it doesn’t matter that she infuriated the teachers union and other labor groups. Moskowitz’s arguement is that school improvement efforts, done well, can build a natural constituency all their own.
If she succeeds, she will shake up what is permitted in the politics of running schools. (more…)
October 31, 2008
We covered the Daily News’s story on the “fat cat lives” of top school officials because the story was killed, which aroused our curiosity.
Now that we see the story, the question we’re asking at our office is, so what?
Some have seen the News story as exposing corruption. That’s wrong. The story reports no evidence that school officials are being paid too much or improperly collecting assets that present conflicts of interest. What it does report is essentially what we already knew: Top school officials in the Bloomberg administration took nontraditional routes into public education. We learn that Chancellor Joel Klein, a former CEO, lives on Park Avenue, and that Garth Harries must have a trust fund. (How else could an early-30′s guy whose glitziest resume bullet is a consulting job at McKinsey have assets between $3.9 and $6 million?)
There are some reasonable questions to pull out of the story. There’s nothing wrong with asking whether a former McKinsey consultant and a former CEO are the most qualified people to run the nation’s largest public school system, or whether $250,000 is too much to pay a schools chancellor (Randi Weingarten, the teachers union leader, makes $350,000) — or even whether affluent people with sparse ties to public schools and public schoolchildren should run them.
Another fair question is whether there is a conflict of interest in a top school official coming from the ranks of a top Department of Education contracting company. Photo Anagnostopoulos, the DOE’s chief operating officer, previously was president of McGraw-Hill Digital Learning, which has an $80 million contract with the department to produce interim assessments — the same ones that racked up courier costs.
But the biggest takeaway here is not that affluent business-world transplants are running the public schools; it’s the likelihood that, by putting in a phone call, the same affluent people were able to go over the heads of reporters and editors and get a story killed.
October 31, 2008
Someone had the Daily News story about Department of Education officials’ personal wealth killed the other night, but not before Google stored a copy in its cache. You can read the story in full online now. Thanks to the reader who helped us figure this out. (NYC Public School Parents also captured the cached story.)