No, not those emails, silly. No reference to new computers or troubled staffers moved to campaigns. (Note that the Kineavy emails are now available online.) Instead, I am talking about the great suggestions for reading that get passed to me. Here is one, and it comes from Mike Antonucci, who suggests an article by Mike Petrilli in the new edition of Education Next entitled Disappearing Ink.
Ed Next is a great magazine, but Petrilli’s article stood out in my mind, because we interact with reporters an awful lot. And the landscape is changing very fast. And Petrilli is right to delve into the question of whether we can have a good public debate about education when the pressures in the news business have led to cutbacks in specialized reporters — essentially, reporters with history and knowledge of the field, facility with data and evidence, and strong judgment.
In suggesting the piece, Antonucci notes:
I think the overall quality of education reporting has greatly improved in the last 10 years. Turnover on the beat, however, is a big problem. It leads to a lot of conventional stories with the same old misconceptions, and not many investigative pieces – even though these often turn out to be blockbusters.
In a dwindling newspaper industry, there is a lot of soul-searching going on, but it’s nice to see someone take on the status of education reporting specifically.
My favorite quote of the article was
“An ill-informed public will benefit people who can push an agenda without accountability and public scrutiny.”
Yep. That’s been the experience here in Massachusetts, where the gutting of accountability in K-12 education was accomplished without a strong set of news articles. Rather, the pushback, which ultimately failed, came from the editors of editorial pages; i.e., from seasoned journalists who had the requisite skills (memory, ability to gauge evidence, and judgment) to make it into a story.