What are the emerging education stories in the months ahead? What continuing stories should we be tracking? What issues aren’t being covered in the proper depth?
I know it’s the dog days of summer, hardly the best time for jumping up and down with intellectual energy, but I hope you will give us a hand, because Learning Matters is at another crossroads, another decision point.
I hope you have noticed that we have devoted lots of time, resources and energy over the past three years to two important school reform stories: the efforts to bring about change in Washington, DC and New Orleans, LA, two of the lowest performing school systems in the nation, by Michelle Rhee and Paul Vallas, respectively. In a few weeks the final episode of this series will air on PBS NewsHour. In total we will have produced twelve stories about NOLA and twelve about DC. That’s unprecedented reporting, particularly for television, and it’s been worthwhile.
Now, however, we have the opportunity to cover other stories.
But which ones? We do have, in effect, a tabula rasa, but we don’t have carte blanche to report on any old thing we please. We work for and with PBS NewsHour, whose journalistic standards are well regarded; for another, we’re interested in stories that have significance beyond their immediate surroundings, whenever possible. We don’t want to do PR for someone’s best idea ever, but neither do we want to miss any exciting new approaches to solving persistent problems.
Four big issues seem obvious to us (but you may disagree):
1) What the administration calls ‘The Race to the Top” and its ramifications, including the decision by a number of states not to participate;
2) The emergence of what are being called ‘common standards; and
3 & 4) Pushes at both ends of the system, one for early reading, the other for increasing the number of college graduates.
We’ll be working on ideas for the next couple of weeks. I invite you to weigh in and promise that your ideas will be given fair consideration. Please respond in the comments, and maybe we’ll get a healthy debate going. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.