Education Opinion

COWAbunga! Post-Convention Edition

By skoolboy — September 05, 2008 1 min read

No, there’s no convention commentary here (or else skoolboy would have to shoot himself). This week’s “Comment of the Week Award,” also known as the COWAbunga Award, goes to NYC Educator, for a comment on yesterday’s Coffee Talk question about which big-city school district is the worst-managed. NYC Educator wrote:

I see the system in which I work on a daily basis, and I don't always see its reality reflected in the press--although they've made great strides over the last few years.
Really, when you're a teacher and you find blatantly preposterous statements in the NY Times, you have to wonder about the reporting from other cities. Who knows whether or not they're telling the truth, or whether they've sent anyone to find out what was really happening. Certainly it's easier to just ask City Hall what's going on and write whatever they tell you.

Big-city school districts are notorious for turning inward—transparency has never been their strong suit. A vigorous press is one of the ways that those in charge of these districts can be held to account for their responsibilities as public servants. This is one of the reasons why yesterday’s announcement that the New York Sun may be folding at the end of the month was so disappointing. skoolboy didn’t often agree with the editorial pages of the Sun, but I always felt better knowing that there was a venue for opinions different from mine to be aired and debated.

Even more importantly, though, the shutdown of the Sun would mean less daily beat reporting on New York City schools. eduwonkette has said repeatedly, and I agree wholeheartedly, that Sun reporter Elizabeth Green has been breaking important stories since she arrived on the scene last year, and it would be a shame if those of us with a stake in New York City schools were to be deprived of her investigative skills. (And yes, she wrote a feature on eduwonkette, and I’ve assisted her in a story or two, but the quality of her work speaks for itself.) Alexander Russo over at This Week in Education has also lamented the recent transitions of a number of well-regarded education writers to new positions that remove them from day-to-day beat reporting. Really, is it possible to have too much high-quality reporting on public education? Maybe … but we have a long way to go before that’s a serious question to consider.

In the meantime, the gap between the person-power devoted by school systems to transmitting messages about public schools to the public and the person-power available in an independent press to interpret these messages in a critical and thoughtful way for the public continues to widen. This, in skoolboy’s view, does not serve the public interest.

The opinions expressed in eduwonkette are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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