Welcome Aboard!*

Welcome to The Grade, a new blog about education journalism.

No actual grades will be given — though praise and criticism will be offered quite regularly.

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.

As you can see, the main publishing partner is the Washington Monthly, which has a long-standing interest in education and quality journalism. They’re the folks that put out the alternative guide to colleges, among other things.

The starting funders for this new venture are the American Federation of Teachers, the second-largest teachers union in the country, and Education Post, an education nonprofit funded by folks like Eli Broad, Mike Bloomberg, and the Walton Family Foundation.

Most days it might not seem like these two organizations 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).

What qualifies me for this work? I’ve been writing about education for a long time, in print and online, and launched several long-running education sites. Along the way, I’ve praised and damned pretty much everyone out there (including both reform advocates and their critics). And, since I’m going to continue my other freelance efforts, I’m not financially beholden to anyone.

To help ensure my analysis is as thoughtful as possible, I’ve also enlisted the help of a handful of education journalists to serve as advisors along with Paul Gastris and the rest of the crack team at Washington Monthly. The advisors are Richard Colvin, Jay Mathews, Linda Perlstein, Liz Spayd, and Peg Tyre.

Curious about what it’s going to look like? Take a look at some of these recent pieces I’ve written that resemble some of what you’ll see at The Grade in the coming days and weeks, including “Common Problems with Common Core Reporting” (in the Columbia Journalism Review) and “How The Atlantic’s CUNY Story Went (So) Wrong” (in Medium).

You can also check out all the past Media Watch posts I’ve written over at This Week In Education here.If you like that kind of stuff, that’s what you’re going to find lots of here.

One last thing: Readers and colleagues are going to be a key part of this venture, so please be sure to let me know if you see a K-12 education story that looks particularly good (or bad).

Together, we’ll keep an eye on the folks who are keeping an eye on the schools, making sure they’re neither too credulous nor too critical, and help ensure that what people understand about education is a little bit better than it might otherwise have been.

Thanks!

*As you can see, we changed the name from Grade Point so as not to confuse anyone with the Washington Post higher education blog of the same name. It launched earlier this year and can be found here.

Alexander Russo

Alexander Russo is a freelance education writer who has created several long-running blogs such as the national news site This Week In Education, District 299 (about Chicago schools), and LA School Report. He can be reached on Twitter at @alexanderrusso, on Facebook, or directly at alexanderrusso@gmail.com.