A Letter to Our Readers
A Message to Our Readers
For more than a year, we at Education Week have been working diligently (and a bit quietly) on the large task of rethinking our work and our mission of serving the professional education community with news and information. It’s an important moment to be doing education journalism, and that makes this a perfect time to reflect and refocus on how to be great at it.
Today, we’d like to share some of the results of our internal effort. We’ve reorganized our newsroom to give our team of top-notch reporters more latitude to do more impactful stories. Our goal with these changes is to preserve the depth of expertise that’s been our hallmark, while becoming much better at understanding what our audience(s) need. We’ve created some new beats and we’ve blended some topics together in new ways. Overall, you can expect the same level of authority you’ve always seen from Education Week, but you also will see a fresh emphasis on education practice, whether it’s in the classroom or in the central office.
Don’t worry, we’re not abandoning policy coverage. We’re still the nerds we’ve always been. We just want to make sure the news and information we provide is consistently, obviously, freakishly relevant to you and the work you’re doing to improve education for every single student. We know that’s your mission, and that makes it our mission.
Here's our list of beats today. You’ll notice that it’s not really a list of topics, the way it used to be. Instead, we’ve created beats as lines of coverage that we believe align with how our audience (you) see the world of education.
Managing schools: We know running a school is complicated, hard work. And while there are lots of things principals do in partnership with district officials and others, much of the responsibility of managing teachers and facilities to impact student achievement sits on the shoulders of this one position in the preK-12 system. We’ve asked our veteran leadership reporter Denisa Superville to focus on the challenges and opportunities of managing schools.
Managing districts: We want to provide deep coverage that explores the “how” behind creating and maintaining the best possible school systems, with special attention on the influence of leadership in the central office where everything from funding challenges and talent recruiting converge. After years of covering teaching and curriculum, Stephen Sawchuk will take on the beat of covering district management.
Opportunity to Learn: We didn’t want to call this the ‘equity beat’ so we’re framing it in terms of the systemic challenges that make the opportunities to learn uneven and unfair. We have always covered equity issues, but we’ve never assigned a reporter to the work full-time. We’re excited to have Christina Samuels, who has been an extraordinary reporter on special education, tackle this vital line of coverage and help reporters across the newsroom see and develop the stories of inequity on their beats.
Student Well-Being/Student Engagement and Motivation: We want to explore all the facets that impact a child’s potential for success in school and beyond, including his or her social-emotional learning, physical health, mental health, nutrition, housing, and environmental factors such as exposure to trauma/violence and economic and family stability. Arianna Prothero, who has covered a range of education beats with great drive and humanity, will take this on.
Research & Data: Research into education has been a core function of Education Week since our founding and we see no reason to change that now. Sarah Sparks has spent years building the respect of the professional research community and under our new organizational structure she’s going to stay right where she is. She’s also going to help us think about ways we can help bridge the gap between research and practice.
Technology and the Future of Work: The influence of technology in education is everywhere—from the classroom to the principal’s office to the district building. At the same time, schools are grappling more than ever with how to prepare students for working in a fast-changing, technology-driven economy. We plan to explore technology’s influence in education and take both a near and long term view of K-12’s role in workforce development. It’s a huge job and we’re looking to one of our best, most trusted reporters, Alyson Klein. She’s spent more than a decade on the federal policy beat spanning three presidential administrations and four education secretaries, and we’re excited that she’s ready for a fresh challenge.
Curriculum & Instruction: For this line of coverage, we’re bringing together two of our most important areas of expertise: what is taught, and how we teach it. We’ll have two great reporters partnering on these questions so that we cover curriculum from the top of the funnel where it gets made, down to the end of the funnel where it gets taught in a classroom. Catherine Gewertz, one of our most accomplished reporters, is returning to the curriculum beat to team up with Sarah Schwartz who in a short time has distinguished herself as a reporter on our teacher team.
Teaching Special Populations: We don’t want to cover special education or English Language Learners simply as federal programs, so we’ve reframed our approach to focus on the challenges and opportunities of teaching children in special circumstances. Corey Mitchell has experience covering parts of this world and we’re looking forward to watching him take this on.
The Teaching Profession and the Teaching Experience: We take a “whole teacher” approach to covering educators that examines the milestones within a teacher’s career—from preservice training to attrition or retirement—as well as the many factors that determine a teacher’s satisfaction and retention along the way. Maddy Will has been on this beat for a year, and she’ll remain there.
Government Policy Creation, Influence, and Implementation: One of our highest profile changes is on the team that covers federal policy. Veteran Andrew Ujifusa will remain in place and team up with a new partner, Evie Blad. She’s a former state education reporter who will bring her considerable experience in classroom reporting to our political and policy coverage, which will take a less jurisdictional view of the influencers on policy to include such things as the choice debate.
School Funding and Finance: We think of this role as a partner to our Politics K-12 team. But we’ve asked state education reporter extraordinaire Daarel Burnette II to spend less time parachuting into different states and more time digging deep on the lifeblood of public education: money. In our new configuration of the politics and policy team, Andrew, Evie and Daarel will share ownership of our Politics K-12 blog, which will expand to include state-level stories.
One last note. Ben Herold, our outstanding technology reporter over the last several years, will be spending the upcoming academic year at Columbia University as a Spencer Fellow. When he returns next spring, we’ll have big plans to share about Ben’s next challenge.
I would be delighted to hear from you about these changes and our role in serving the education community. Please feel free to let me know what you think via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
—Scott Montgomery, Editor-in-Chief