Reporters need to look inside the classroom
"Forget the ‘reformers’ and statistics that clutter today’s education beat. Reporters need to look inside the classroom."
That's the call from LynNell Hancock in the latest issue of The Columbia Journalism Review. She begins with the story of the scam behind the "Texas Miracle" and holds The Houston Chronicle's toes to the fire for missing it. More importantly, she writes in depth about why they missed the story--what's wrong with how reporters cover the education beat.
The tricks and truths were buried by the numbers, and all but ignored for years by The Houston Chronicle. The city’s only remaining daily paper should have owned the story, and years earlier, but its coverage habits were cemented in a model that kept reporters out of classrooms. Education reporters were conditioned to cover “schools” instead of “education,” to come at the beat from the top down by reporting on district policies without comparing them to real-life results or assessing their classroom relevance. So the Chronicle’s initial dropout stories simply repeated the district’s 1.5 percent rate, and gave critics the token, brush-off-for-balance treatment at a story’s end.