Five More Education Stories I’d Like To See

Despite all the education news coverage that’s being produced these days, there are always stories and angles that seem like they’ve been missed or downplayed (or are in the works, ideally). Here are a few that I’ve been wanting to read but haven’t yet seen:

*Inside a Common Core test room. Despite all the coverage of the new tests being administered in many places around the country, and the parents opting out in some places, I haven’t yet seen any real in-depth narrative detailing what it’s been like at the school or district level over multiple days as the process unfolds. Last spring, I reported a bit of what it was like working inside a Common Core testing ‘help desk’ call center during the pilot effort for the new tests. The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Patrick O’Donnell took us inside a test scoring center earlier this month. Crossed fingers someone got access to a school or district going through the process and has the time and energy to give us a detailed look what it’s really been like, warts and all.

*Meet President Clinton’s Education Secretary. There’s lots more to know about candidate Clinton’s positions on education issues like Common Core and early childhood education, but while we wait for her to reveal them (or reporters to dig them out) why not take a close look at the person who would likely run the Education Department if Clinton wins next year? All signs would seem to point to Stanford University’s Linda Darling-Hammond, who was sideswiped by pro-charter forces when her name came up during the Obama transition and who is currently involved in a somewhat controversial effort to revamp teacher certification called edTPA.

*What REALLY happens next with the education “stalemate”? It doesn’t seem like early childhood education is the coalescing issue, though the NYT’s Nick Kristof made the case that it should be. And it’s probably not going to be some sort of widespread rollback of Common Core standards and testing, given what we know thus far about how things have gone with the first year of testing. It might not even be a bipartisan reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, given recent concerns expressed about the Alexander-Murray bill passed out of Committee a few weeks ago. But this is education, so something’s going to happen. We just don’t know what.

*The Ivy Leaguers Behind Today’s Insurgent Labor Movement. It’s no secret that today’s teachers unions include some increasingly aggressive approaches and personalities. Nor is it unknown that economic mobility isn’t nearly as widespread as it was during an earlier era. So it’s somewhat interesting that there are at least two highly-placed union officials — UTLA’s Alex Caputo-Pearl and Chicago Teachers Union’s Jesse Sharkey — who graduated from Brown. (CTU head Karen Lewis is herself a Dartmouth graduate, which is close enough, right?) And former AFT staffer Sabrina Stevens, who now heads a nonprofit advocacy group called Integrity in Education, graduated from Swarthmore.

*The real story behind Chris Whittle’s departure from NYC’s $50,000 Avenues school. Last month, serial entrepreneur Chris Whittle announced a sudden resignation from the school he helped start not too very long ago. The WSJ among others covered the announcement, but might not have gotten the whole story. What really happened behind the scenes, and how’s the school really doing? A reporter might compare the first few years of Avenues to the disastrous first few years of The School at Columbia University, or use Whittle’s departure to explore how private education is evolving in this increasingly inequitable cloud-based world we live in.

If any of these stories has already been done, please let us know. Meantime, for a roundup of every morning’s big education stories, check here. There are other outlets that do the same kind of thing — RealClear Education, Politico’s Morning Education — but I like to think that mine’s the best.

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.