Not a true turnaround effort – Worcester Tech

Not a true turnaround effort – Worcester Tech

I’ve been meaning to write about my thoughts on Worcester Tech in Worcester, MA since last year when Obama gave the commencement speech. This month, an interview with the principal of Worcester Tech came across my twitter feed.  Here’s my thoughts on her interview, the school and what she didn’t say (or that the report did not print).

It’s a very cool school that has an incredible balance between academics and technical experience. Each week students rotate through academic and tech weeks for 90 tech days and 90 academic days. This model actual helps to demonstrate that my theory that you could have elective based classes instead of Math, Science, English, Social Studies and still teach the standards, concepts and skills. They have a great way of introducing students to all the tech disciplines and empowering them to make choices. There is virtually nothing like that in traditional schools. The school is a great opportunity to get a head start and build a great college application.
worcester tech logo

 

The principal says that the school used to be focused towards strictly students going into the workforce after high school. The test scores where falling and they were going to shut down the school. Instead they turned it around. There is just one item missing from this interview that brings more light to this situation.

Worcester Tech now has an application process. Here is the Application  and the Admission guidelines for the school.  I know this predicament well because I was a middle school guidance intern at a middle school in Worcester. The application requires data regarding grades, attendance, and behavior record. So who do you think is attending Worcester Tech?

In the past the admission requirements were probably weak if at all. That probably wasn’t the right method. But is this the correct method?

Let’s assume that a majority of non college attending kids went to the old school. They probably didn’t have good grades, or good attendance records, or  good behavior records. Those facts probably lead to the decline of the school. So when the “turned around” the school…..where did those students go?

They didn’t turnaround the school. They literally built a brand new different school. And it’s a great school. My two issues are these:

What happens to all the students who used to attend Worcester Tech? The only school in the city that could prepare them for a career after HS is only open to students with good grades, good attendance and good behavior. Basically, the kids who need a great school like this, likely are not getting admitted. This actually sounds like what most people think charter schools do – they selectively choose students and by doing so eliminate “unworthy” students. Most charter schools, through their choice of attendance zones operate in under served communities and through a lottery serve at risk students. But, I will ask again, What happens to the students who used to attend Worcester Tech?

Did you know that only 1/4th of Worcester HS graduating seniors attend a 4 year university? Another 1/4th go to local community colleges (which I hear is where students are pushed towards due to their lack of success) and 50% go directly into the workforce, or at least not to any college directly after school.

So if 95% of Worcester Tech grads go to college – those students are not likely any of the 50% going directly into the workforce.

All of a sudden does Worcester Tech seem a bit exclusive? I’d say so.

Now, I think the school is great. Students who do well in school deserve a chance to get ahead, build their tech skills to get into the best colleges, and learn in an empowering school environment. But on the backs of the students who need that school environment?

Which brings me to my second point, this type of school should be available to all students who wish to attend. There should be enough campuses to accommodate every student who need this opportunity. We should be incorporating more of their school culture and style into traditional public schools. We need more Worcester Tech’s.

But please don’t laud them as turning around a school – when the students who were there to begin with are not there. And we are still not serving those students who need us. Because of the admission reqs, its very likely that the 95% college going graduates would have also gone to college from their sending school. Worcester Tech may not actually be increasing Worcester’s graduation rate. Just moving the numbers around.

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Convenient timing for APS to improve 26 schools at risk of the OSD

Convenient timing for APS to improve 26 schools at risk of the OSD

I just wrote about Glenn Delk’s response to APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s blog about working to prevent her 26 schools eligible for the Governor’s Opportunity School District from being taken over.

Real motivation over APS hiring OSD policy creator

Carstarphen’s blog states:

People Watch- Meria Carstarphen_0I want everyone to understand that we are developing an aggressive and targeted course of action for school improvement. If we can achieve that, state intervention will be unnecessary. The Board and I share in the belief that that ensuring all students have access to quality education and maintaining local control of education is critical to the health and well-being of Atlanta. Further, we have an obligation to the students, parents and taxpayers of Atlanta to do everything in our power to ensure that our schools improve at a pace that allows them to avoid state takeover.

When I saw the number of APS schools on the potential OSD list, it was clear to me that we didn’t have a day to waste. There are currently 26 APS schools that meet the above criteria, and there a number of other APS schools which are at-risk of eligibility either because they have one or two years of CCRPI performance below 60 and/or they have historical CCRPI performance close to 60.

It just seems more politically motivated or a way to help the image of the district than helping the students. “When you saw the number of schools on the potential OSD list, it was clear you didn’t have a day to waste?”  What did you think about those schools for the first year on the job? What steps had you been taking to help these schools improve before the OSD legislation? Certainly the work needs to be done but, seems like convenient timing that feels more like adults are the focus than the kids.

Carstaphen continues:

We also launched yesterday the eight-week New School Turnaround Strategy Project guided by the Boston Consulting Group, a national group with a strong presence here in Atlanta. Thanks to the generosity of some funders, we have been able to take advantage of their unique expertise in education. This project will include a robust community engagement component that will consist of surveys, focus groups, town hall meetings, and a community advisory panel to help inform our approach.  I will also be collecting feedback from our teachers and principals, especially those who are “in the trenches” every day in some of our most challenging schools.  It is important to me that whatever strategy we develop does not happen “to” our communities or “to” the dedicated staff members who have been committed to some of our most at-risk schools for decades.  I want our key stakeholders at the table and engaged in this important decision-making process. Learn more about how you can help here.

I hope something productive comes of this research project. We are all still trying to figure out what happened with Michael Thurmond’s Bridge Initiative in DeKalb County……thankfully, I heard that Supt. Green won’t even let Thurmond back in the building! He did some good work, but clearly not enough. However, projects like this always look good and sound good but don’t always return actionable items that are followed through on. But all the consultants still get paid….

When I learned that she planned to leave the Governor’s Office at the end of the month, I could not delay. I knew she could be a key component in challenging us to do the tough and smart work as well as help us navigate the system to avoid the OSD. It won’t give APS an automatic pass, but I think it gives us the leverage of advice from an expert who understands the decisions surrounding the creation, mission and structure of the OSD.

Navigate the system to avoid OSD. I can’t believe she actually said “It won’t give APS an automatic pass.” That all sounds like the CCPRI scores will get to 61 so they can’t be included, but will that progress really continue? Or will it simply stall after OSD is no longer a threat?

Cost of the status quo is way more expensive

Cost of the status quo is way more expensive

Just read this great article by a parent who works in a public charter school. Charter schools are not immune to the problems of traditional public schools – But you also can’t

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

read this article and proclaim traditional charters are superior. Please focus on the content of the article, about parents making choices for their own kids.

These are two former blogs about this very topic – what parents decide for their own kids:

When the only option is a failing school & Sounds good in theory, but not in practice

This article is written by a parent working in the same school her own child attended.

My 8-year-old daughter’s class was chaotic after her first-year teacher got married in Chicago and then relocated to Texas after Christmas break. It was hard enough to bring on a new teacher in the middle of the year, but the situation was only exacerbated when the replacement teacher was also brand new to the profession. (In fairness, my daughter’s class of 28 students was difficult to manage even for more experienced teachers. Teachers had to tap into their inner guru each and every day.)

My administration was trying to work with the replacement teacher, but it was painful for me to watch professional development attempts being made for a novice teacher who was in full crisis mode. Assurances from my school leaders that, with more instructional coaching, the class would gradually get better in time, fell flat with me. It was now February—how much more time could my child afford?

The complacency that the administration goes through in keeping this teacher, or hiring her in the first place. I talked a little bit about how teacher education needs to be improved in this blog but I am tired of administrations doing what they can to help (even if it’s ineffective) and settling for that being the best they can do. We need all of our kids to have an excellent education and large part of that is a great teacher.

My kid wasn’t ambivalent; she knew what she wanted. In fact, she begged me to transfer her out of the school that she had once loved. Even at 8, she was willing to say goodbye to all her friends to gain a sense of emotional safety and sanity.

I love my school and count many of my colleagues as my friends. The teachers (including my daughter’s former teachers) work extremely hard, and it’s obvious that they care about the students. And since it’s a charter school, parents like me feel fortunate that our kids’ names were pulled from the lottery and granted admission. I’ve often lamented that all kids and parents don’t have access to good schools like this one, district or charter.

But now I found myself contemplating the unthinkable—transferring my little girl out.

Parents are dealing with these struggles every day. Charter or traditional public school we need to make sure that every child has an effective teacher. I keep saying that our kids aren’t going to get those days of lost education back. We need to care right now about getting the best kids in the classroom.

The mom continues…

Last week, a colleague passed on a powerful article about the author Doug Lemov, who wrote “Teach Like a Champion,” to my principal, who then passed it on to me. These bits from the article gave me peace about the decision I made:

The evidence suggests that a child at a bad school taught by a good teacher is better off than one with a bad teacher at a good school. The benefits of having been in the class of a good teacher cascade down the years; the same is true of the penalty for having had a bad teacher.

In 1992, an economist called Eric Hanushek reached a remarkable conclusion by analyzing decades of data on teacher effectiveness: a student in the class of a very ineffective teacher—one ranked in the bottom 5 percent—will learn, on average, half a year’s worth of material in one school year, whereas if she was in the class of a very effective teacher—in the top 5 percent—she would learn a year and a half’s worth of material. In other words, the difference between a good and a bad teacher is worth a whole year.

Here you go. Evidence that our kids are literally loosing out by not having a great teacher. Parents are left with very few options if they feel their child is not getting an adequate education. And sometimes they choose another school, yet they shouldn’t have to. While education theorists and unions and the media are criticizing themselves daily, our nation’s kids are sitting in classrooms with ineffective teachers. We need to spend more time “on the ground” with kids and teachers and less time in the ivory towers of “theory” and “rhetoric.”

The mom ends:

It means that if any one of my students’ parents were to have insight into the day-to-day happenings in the school or classroom the way I am privy to it as a staff member, would they trust that their child was getting the absolute best education possible?

In other words, it means that educators need to approach our practice with the same diligence we would have if our own biological child sat in every single class.

My household operates on a tight budget, so the $700 a month private school tuition bill I now have to pay really hurts. But now that my little girl is excited about learning again and is able to focus in class, I realize that the cost of the status quo was way more expensive.

“Everyone’s voice matters” unless you don’t want to be a union member

“Everyone’s voice matters” unless you don’t want to be a union member

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

©Depositphotos.com/Margaret Paynich

Well, well, well…here is an email Randi sent out today to supporters….and some of my comments.

Randi:

Make no mistake: This case is not about individual liberty or the First Amendment. It is an outright attack against unions to prevent us from representing our members and using our voices to fight for our families, our schools, our colleges, our healthcare facilities and our communities.

First of all this case is about staff who do not want to be members. But since you point it out, I think you would be serving your members BETTER with voluntary dues because you would need to actually listen to them ALL and not just the policy wonks in DC to craft your policy. And the fact that in CA you have to pay the whole amount up front and then go through a cumbersome process to get a refund? I want to keep all my money for myself. I shouldn’t have to pay ahead and get my money back. The Government does that but unions ARE NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Though they certainly act like the are.

Randi:

This case would undermine our unions and challenge nearly 40 years of precedent—and the court agreed to hear it barely a year after it dealt a blow to workers with its decision in Harris v. Quinn. In fact, the conservative justices on the court used the Harris v.Quinn ruling to invite cases like this one, showing just how political they really are.

40 year old precedent means times have changed and we don’t need that 40 year old law anymore. Unions had a role, but it’s getting outdated and they don’t want to give up their enormous power over the government. Well they don’t have control of the Supreme Court and I would say the “blow” from Harris vs Quinn is a further indication that you’re going to keep losing. How many times have teachers unions sneakily support candidates and campaigns? And you are calling the lawyers “political”? Better look in the mirror.

Randi:

In the end, this case comes down to a fundamental question: Do unions have a right to collect a fair share from the people we represent, to ensure that we’re able to speak for all workers?

Define “fair share”. I don’t think 60-70% of the total dues is fair. I haven’t seen an accounting of how all those funds are spent. Maybe if you didn’t spend years on end stonewalling negotiations it wouldn’t cost so much to collectively bargain. Maybe you just need to spend 60-70% unnecessarily so you can justify continuing to collect it. Also, you’ve done such a good job of enacting terrible laws like salary scales and tenure that all those benefits are already there. If you want to say that teachers are benefiting from your negotiation for the whole, why can’t that member just negotiate for his/her self instead? 

Randi:

The attack on labor by those who don’t want working families to have a voice has intensified. It has moved from the statehouse to the courthouse. But our affiliates understand that engaging our communities and our members, and organizing new members, are the key to repelling those attacks and growing a strong middle class.

These people DO want these teachers to have a voice. You are smothering them with your forced dues. These lawyers are the only ones standing up for teachers who don’t want to be in the union. You are not standing for those teachers. You are literally standing on a wad of bills smothering them. Get off of them. Collect your money voluntarily. And actually listen to ALL of the teachers, not just the ones who help you make your case. Plenty of teachers aren’t being heard by YOU. 

Randi:

I’m proud that, at times like these, the AFT is still growing. We passed the 1.6 million mark last summer

Um, that’s because teachers are leaving you and you have to make up your cash with other disciplines…..

Randi:

and like AFT Michigan, which has held strong despite the so-called right-to-work law in place there.

I’m amazed even mentioned Michigan, while your cohort MEA is literally ruining the credit of teachers who don’t want to be part of the union as retribution for a law that PROTECTS workers by letting them choose to be part of the union or not to be.

“Everyone’s voice matters” unless you don’t want to be a union member.

Slap a “Made in Jersey” label on it – Christie on Common Core

This is a video interview in 2013 where Chris Christie widely supporting Common Core in New Jersey. He talks about how Common Core is one area that he agrees with Obama on more than others. He talks about Republican and Democratic governors moving education forward with Common Core – because they have to go into their schools and look kids and parents in the face and do what’s best for them. He claims that legislators care more about their primary than they care about anything else.

Now, it’s 2015 and he’s preparing for a presidential bid – and has turned into one of “those” legislators who “only cares about their primary.”

Christie on Thursday declared at Burlington Community College that Common Core is “simply not working,” adding it “has brought only confusion and frustration to our parents. And has brought distance between our teachers and the communities where they work. Instead of solving problems in our classrooms, it is creating new ones. And when we aren’t getting the job done for our children, we need to do something different.”

Over the past year, the potential 2016 GOP hopeful has said he has growing concerns about Common Core, and last summer appointed a commission to study the impact of the program.

Why the flip flop? Polling says Republican primary voters are inaccurately associating Common Core with Obama and Democrats and are against it. Christie, who is more moderate of a Republican than most, needs to find ways to build Republican support among the base and here he is!

Darrell M. West, the vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institutions — who has defended Common Core— went further, saying, “Candidates are flipping on this issue because the GOP base is outraged about the Common Core. Even though it was developed at the state level, they believe it is part of the federal takeover of education.” He added: “They inaccurately attribute it to the Obama administration and believe liberals are behind this move.”

Just how Christie’s latest turn on Common Core affects his likely presidential bid remains to be seen. Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said it “does have the potential of bringing him support among GOP primary voters and it also serves to distinguish himself from Jeb Bush,” his ideological competitor. On the other hand, said Harrison, “it could open himself up to criticism that he’s a flip-flopper.”

This editorial suggests that Christie is shaping state policy to influence his presidential bid. The writer suggests that by creating a committee to look into developing NJ standards, that the “new standards” will be much like the current ones, with a new name.

That’s all that matters to Christie these days, pleasing national conservatives. So he says Common Core isn’t working — without actually saying how or why — and that he wants to replace it with a new model that a group of parents and educators are supposed to put together over the summer. The emphasis, of course, is on state control over the process. The standards themselves are a secondary concern.

This is nothing more than a rebranding of Common Core as a New Jersey product. Christie said he expects “new” standards to be in place by the end of the year, which is far too little time for a responsible overhaul. The standards will undoubtedly look much the same as they do now because there simply won’t be time to do anything more.

But this sort of reckless approach will only create more problems and confusion. If Christie’s dissatisfaction with Common Core was a genuine desire for more effective standards that would earn more support from parents and educators, this would certainly be a longer process to evaluate and revamp the entire program. Instead, Christie just wants to bang out something quick and slap a “Made in Jersey” label on it.

This NJ blog notes that NJ already accepted Common Core, spent time and money integrating to it and the education department is running with it. After all the revamping of curriculum to match the standards, teacher training…etc he’s just going to start over? Not likely. The writer also suggests renaming them will do the trick:

Let’s think about this.  In 2010 the State Legislature adopted the Common Core State Standards. In 2011 New Jersey’s 590 school districts and 2,500 schools began the complex process of adapting course objectives to align with the Common Core. The task is complete.

If we take the Governor’s advice and abandon the Common Core, then N.J. would have one of two choices: either revert to inferior standards, which would require school administrators and teachers to dig out  discarded material and remap curricula, or convene some coven of Christie-ites to start the expensive and time-consuming process of reinventing course standards that, if done properly, would mirror the Common Core.

Here’s a suggestion.  Leave the Common Core alone and spare students, teachers, principals, school board members, superintendents, legislators, and taxpayers from this shell game. Rename the standards the NEW JERSEY Common Core State Standards. Or, heck, how about the Christie Core State Standards. Christie-Core! That way, Governor, you get a talking point if you garner enough polling points to earn a podium at the GOP debates and the eroding faith of New Jersey in the political process stays at sea level.

No wonder Valerie Strauss never engages….

No wonder Valerie Strauss never engages….

Depositphotos_54471695_m

Reading through Alexander Russo’s new blog, “The Grade,” I happened on an interesting blog post about The Washington Post’s blog The Answer Sheet by….Valerie Strauss. He writes:

She doesn’t write very much of her own commentary, they say. She can’t be both a columnist/blogger who traffics in opinion and commentary and also take/get assigned straight news stories, they say. Her reported pieces aren’t well-reported. And most of all: What she does post is pretty much unrelentingly critical of reform ideas like charter schools and test-based accountability.

Now granted, the complaints are mostly coming from reform advocates whose views aren’t frequently found on Strauss’s staunchly critical education blog. Or they’re from education journalists who are competitors of some kind. So all this is all to be taken with a grain of salt. But the list goes on and on, and the behind-the-scenes conversations with editors and ombudsmen I’ve heard about are pretty much endless.

I just assumed she was busy, but I tweet to her every day and have written extensively about an interview she “presumably” did with Anthony Cody in these posts:

Refuting Anthony Cody Part 3

Cody denies progress to advance his agenda

Really? No Gains in NYC?

Anthony Cody, can you look a child in DC in the eyes and tell him that his progress is unrecognized

Refuting Anthony Cody Part 2

Refuting Anthony Cody Part 1

Granted it was Cody’s interview, and if anyone were to respond it would be him, and he has to an extent, but she never has made a peep, ever. And I’ve even gotten John Thompson to challenge me, I’m not a nobody! 🙂

But this blog post of Alexander’s just makes a lot of sense from my experience with the blog.

Alexander goes on:

This might not be the biggest or deepest critique of the work Strauss does and her Post editors allow. My main issue with her blog is that it doesn’t seem to offer readers an honest, somewhat balanced assessment of the big education issues that are being debated, or isn’t balanced with another blog so that readers of the Post can at least see two sides of a discussion. Oh, and it annoys me to no end that Answer Sheet blog posts overwhelm regular reported news stories on the site’s education page and on Feedly as if blog posts and reported news are the same thing. But let’s save all that for another time, shall we?

Yes, yes please write about something other than the far left leaning wing of the Democratic Party. I basically don’t read her material because I know it’s all over the edge and I’m not likely to agree.

Alexander goes on to discuss the world of bylines in the journalism world (and I have to say he did very well by me as a writer or news clipper making me a contributor and my name would be on the morning news) but my biggest pet peeve is this which he brings up later – her lack of accountability:

Issue number two related to the byline is the accountability issue. When there’s heat or pushback on what she’s posted under her byline, Strauss seems like she doesn’t want anything to do with it. In such situations she wants it known that she’s just the person who assigned or accepted the outside contribution. Then, she’s just the editor. But she still gets a byline.

The most recent example of this is a May 15 post Strauss published taking on Deepak Chopra’s work, written by Steven Newton. The headline is “Scientist: Why Deepak Chopra is driving me crazy.” The byline is, as usual, “By Valerie Strauss.” But two paragraphs in, Strauss hands it over to Newton.

The post generated nearly 50 comments and some attention on Twitter, including this hostile/polite tweet from Chopra’s account on May 18 addressed to Strauss and sent to his 2.44 million followers:

Dear @valeriestrauss – I responded to your ad hominem blog on me in the Washington Post in the comments section. Regards

— Deepak Chopra (@DeepakChopra) May 18, 2015

Strauss published a follow-up piececomplaining that Chopra’s email and Tweet were misguided: “He said it was written by me. He didn’t mention that Newton actually wrote the piece.”

To recap: Strauss published a piece under her byline. Chopra responded to her Twitter handle. But Strauss doesn’t feel like the responsibility for the post is hers.

Ah well, didn’t like her before and have zero reason to like her now. Too bad because I generally like the WashPost.

Are education journalists making “The Grade”?

Are education journalists making “The Grade”?

The Grade

 

Alexander Russo, who Ed Week referred to as “peripatetic and highly opinionated education blogger” (I had to look up peripatetic and settled on this definition “moving or traveling from place to place” though not sure if that was the intention! I believe that Alexander moved at least once while I helped him write for his blog, This Week in Education, and he certainly has had experience in a variety of metropolitan cities in the US.), started a new blog this month, “The Grade” over at Washington Monthly.

Getting a little nostalgic over Alexander and blogging, thinking back to when he recruited me to help him collect the morning news, attend and report back on education events in DC and occasionally write a piece of my own. I went to find my earliest emails with Alexander and they were in an even more previous email account than my current oldest one. I’ve known Alexander longer than probably anyone else I know in the education sphere. I was collecting news clips for Alexander before I really knew anything about national education issues and TWIE will always be my go-to news education blog. However, I digress.

In Alexander’s introductory post, he writes:

Think of it as NPR’s “On The Media” for education news, or as a public editor or ombudsman for national K-12 news coverage.

There’s a ton of education news being pumped out every day, but what’s particularly good (or bad) about the coverage that’s being provided — and what if anything can be done to make it even better?

That’s the goal: to take a steady look at how education news gets created and see how to make it as accurate, complete, and interesting as possible.

Ed Week reports on the support for “The Grade”:

Still, besides accepting support from Washington Monthly, Russo says there are two other “starting funders”: the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, and Education Post, a Chicago-based organization run by former Arne Duncan spokesman Peter Cunningham.

“Most days it might not seem like these two organizations [AFT and Education Post] would agree on much, but their leaders have stepped up to support this effort out of a desire for smart education coverage (and agreed to give me room to write whatever seems most important on any given day),” Russo writes.

He added in his email to me that “the AFT and Education Post won’t necessarily like what I write about every day of the week, but they’ll benefit from there being a place where media quality is being discussed.”

I found this to still be a little confusing so I asked Alexander over email myself if he would still be willing to challenge AFT or Education Post if the need arose?

He responded, “I would, and have in the past, criticized them both, and will do so again, though the focus of the new blog is mostly taking a hard look at what education journalists are doing as opposed to what advocates are doing.”

Then I asked if he’d be doing any work to decipher think tank research, which nowadays seems like it is often leaning in a subjective direction vs. remaining objective to it’s funding sources. Often times funders aren’t disclosed until well after the funder has touted the research as fact all day long already. Alexander replied, “yeah, i’ll get into some of that — wrote a piece last week about journos’ over-use of think tank research, for example.” He was referring to this piece which I generally agree with: Decoding Think Tank-Fueled Education Journalism. I really appreciate the tips he mentions at the end of the post:

In terms of reviewing at the research being produced by think tanks, look not only to funding sources and ideological issues but also to see if the organization has any track record of producing research whose conclusions don’t match funders’ advocacy positions. For me, demonstrated autonomy from funders’ immediate interests is the best single measure of credibility (besides doing good, methodologically sound work).

When reading education journalism, pay careful attention to how journalists use and identify think tank reports and experts in their stories, and be skeptical about claims being made that don’t seem to have been verified or vetted.   If you look closely you can sometimes find a think tank report that might have inspired a story or an expert whose views seem to go unchallenged. The think tank’s role usually isn’t presented at the top of a piece or in a straightforward way, but rather slipped into an overview/summary section or given a juicy quote or stat at the end of a piece.

For education journalists, it’s important to present caveats and opposing views and to be clear with readers about the limitations and views of the think tank/expert whose views are being expressed, and who funded the study.  Often it can be helpful to find an academic expert to look at a think tank report. Sometimes you can learn a lot by asking what if any of the report’s findings match or conflict with the funders’ views.

My personal view is that exclusives, embargoes, and other hidden arrangements between journalists and think tanks should be indicated to readers who otherwise have no idea where a story came from, but I’m in the definite minority on that front.

I’ve made attempts to work towards these perspectives and offer the public tips and advice about decoding the media including: Don’t be fooled by marketing,  Look Deeper Than the Title & Make your own choices about what to believe.

Ed Week received feedback from both AFT & Education Post about their support:

Asked by me about the support for the venture, AFT President Randi Weingarten said via email, “There are fewer and fewer reporters covering the education beat, and we need to do what we can to help those who are interested in balanced reporting find that balance. That’s why we supported Alexander’s venture at this reputable publication.”

Michael Vaughn, the communications director for Education Post, said via email: “We respect Alexander’s voice and think that education journalism and commentary deserve thoughtful scrutiny. At the end of the day, we can’t have a better conversation if we can’t agree on certain basic truths. People say a lot of unsupported things, and it can get very confusing for readers. Our hope is that it makes all of us more careful, and we fully expect to be challenged by him sometimes.”