Thursday, May 27, 2010

Are we all part of the problem?

Some thoughtful feedback from Alan Gottlieb in Denver (  I think he's wrong, but there are unfortunately many folks who agree with him, so it underscores the importance of messaging:

First, the journalists' view of reformers. For some conference participants, an appearance by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim epitomized the reformers' smugness. Guggenheim, who directed "An Inconvenient Truth," has a new documentary film coming out in October, focused on education reform. "Waiting for Superman" is being awaited with breathless anticipation by the reform crowd.

…Guggenheim is an engaging guy. I enjoyed listening to him. Afterwards, though, chatting with other journalists over beer, I heard a lot of grumbling—and I found myself agreeing with much of it.

 "He's so sure he's right." "He's like all these foundation types and hedge fund guys who think they've found the answer and anyone who doesn't see it their way is an idiot and a Neanderthal." "Nice message, but when will these people admit that the jury is still out on the sustainability and replicability of the KIPPs and the Harlem Children's Zones of the world?" "It's just not that black-and-white."

This wasn't an expression of hostility toward the reform camp, but rather journalists' frustration over the intractable and increasingly ugly nature of current disputes – for which they blamed both sides – and themselves.

I heard these views amplified during the jam-packed session on the polarized school reform debate the following day. Reporters in the room agreed that entrenched interests fighting change – most notably unions and district bureaucracies –  are a big part of the problem. But so, they said, are the reformers.


From the editor: Are we all part of the problem?

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010 

Last week, I attended the Education Writers Association National Seminar in San Francisco. Journalists from across the country took part, representing publications large and small. Edu-bloggers and online reporters were there as well, in bigger numbers than ever before.

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