What education journalism is. . . and could be

As part of his review of last weeks’s American Educational Research Association annual meeting, Richard Lee Colvin posts some points about education journalism and education writers on his blog EarlyStories, 13 April.

“Journalism that focuses on what goes on inside classrooms requires that journalists know something about education. There’s much journalism about schools that is important and compelling but that is not precisely about education. Covering the school board, for example, is important but it’s more about government—politics, budgets, labor negotiations and the like. So, journalists on the politics beat, City Hall, even GA’s (General Assignment for my non-journalist readers) can handle the job. Education writers, however, need to also be able to communicate clearly about the heart of the matter—teaching and learning.”

Colvin continues: “. . . what goes on inside classrooms is a complicated interaction between and among students, and with their teacher, while wrestling with important content. And all of those interactions are influenced by what happens outside of class and outside the school. That’s a big idea journalists should keep in mind, as it will help them avoid writing simplistic stories that conclude education can be “fixed” by a silver-bullet idea, policy, textbook, teaching method, test or heroic principal or teacher. The final insight is that education journalists should seek out the kind of research [that will help] them gain the knowledge they need to explain these complicated interactions to their readers, listeners, and viewers. . . “

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