Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 11.38.35 AM
I was reminded last week that the Washington Post’s Emma Brown wrote a pretty amazing story about one district’s attempt to fire a veteran teacher (Violet Nichols, pictured above): Teacher tenure: a Fairfax schools firing case.

Three years later, as districts and schools continue to try and figure out how to evaluate teachers fairly — and what the benefits and drawbacks of collective bargaining are for teachers and students — it’s worth a second look.

The outcome of the process (Fairfax drops effort to fire veteran teacher) was heralded by the state teachers association (Going to Bat for You) and was the subject of numerous opeds like this one in US News (Why Teachers Deserve Tenure). 

Brown and I did a Q and A (Meet The Reporter Behind The Violet Nichols Tenure Story) about how she got the story and the challenges of writing about such a complicated and little-understood process.

These kinds of stories, which delve into parts of the education process that are much-discussed but little understood, and attempt to describe them with nuance and fairness, are the kinds of journalism that are most useful and admirable. They’re also the hardest and most time-consuming to produce. 

Related posts: The Washington Post’s Mixed-Up Education PagesPhilly Magazine’s Messed-Up Cover StoryWashington Post VAM-Based Teacher Firing Claim Might …

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