There have been lots of changes at the Huffington Post’s education page over the past year or so, but if you’re not paying attention to the stories it puts out every day you might be missing out on good material.HuffPost isn’t breaking news or doing much event coverage any more, but it’s still finding ways and places to engage readers and provide useful information about schools.
Launched way back in 2010 — remember? — the HuffPost education page has been through several iterations and staffing configurations.
Since 2014, when head education reporter Joy Resmovits was awarded a Spencer Fellowship at Columbia University, the page has been operating without its own fulltime reporter dedicated to education. (Resmovits finished her fellowship this past Spring and then joined the LA Times in June.)
But education page editor Rebecca Klein (pictured) has found ways to keep the page fresh and do some of her own reporting.
She’s been at the Huffington Post about three years, covering education for the last two and a half of them.
“Basically what my job is to write reported pieces, run the social media channel, and act as gatekeeper for pieces that bloggers send me,” Klein told me in a recent phone interview.
There’s still an education page, though it’s moderated less strictly than in the past. Commentary from outside still pours in. Some of the regular contributors include AFT head Randi Weingarten, blogger Mercedes Schneider, and Alan Singer. (“It’s a big platform if you want to get the word out,” according to Klein.)
Most of the education stories produced by Huffington Post staffers appear on the politics page. And they continue to win lots of attention even if they’re not all breaking news. Klein cites a survey on Native American youth that was published on Columbus Day, and “anytime we do something on school discipline.”
Here are some of the education page’s biggest hits, according to Klein:
One of my recent favorites was a piece on Latino segregation: The Big Education Problem That No One Is Talking About. Last year’s writeup of a Pew report on schoolkids with undocumented parents was also good. And lots of folks loved (or hated) this 2014 assemblage of President Obama talking about standards but not saying “Common Core.“
Lately, there’s a big push at Huffington Post to focus on things that are working — the site’s “What’s Working Initiative” — based in part on the work that the site has been doing with the Solutions Journalism Network.
For education, that means efforts to close the achievement gap, reduce the discipline gap, and address other obvious problems in schools. But the effort is not funded by the Gates Foundation or anyone else.
It hasn’t been easy since Resmovits left, but in some ways the Spencer Fellowship year helped ease the transition. And, according to Klein, HuffPost’s commitment to education is strong enough to insulate the page from pageview pressures that have led some journalists and outlets into covering stories based on how much traffic they get rather than how important.
It also helps that HuffPost’s big rival, BuzzFeed, has an education reporter who focuses on higher education and the business side of schools rather than K-12 issues. The page’s real competition may be the Washington Post, which features a handful of education reporters and an abundance of commentary curated by Valerie Strauss.
In general, the HuffPost education coverage seems to have avoided the controversy that has besieged education issues and some other outlets. Part of that may come from the general sense that the HuffPost leans left over all. But the site is pro-vaccine, pro-evolution, and takes no position on unions or Common Core. (A recent piece on extreme claims being made by Common Core opponents did generate a strong response, according to Klein.)