There will be a bigger post next week about the ins and outs of digital storytelling when it comes to education journalism in particular, but in the meantime do yourself a favor and check out USA Today’s big investigation into sloppy state and national recordkeeping that allows a small number of abusive teachers to leave one district or state and get jobs somewhere else — even if they’ve been found to have abused kids verbally or physically.

One measure of the story’s reach is how much it’s been picked up by other news organizations. The USA Today piece (Broken discipline tracking systems let teachers flee troubled pasts) has been picked up by several other outlets, including WBEZ Chicago Public Radio (How Teachers Accused of Misconduct Can Stay in Classrooms), the LA Times (Some teachers are getting fired in one state but hired in another), The Seventy Four (3 Things Every Parent Must Know About USA Today’s Jaw-Dropping Teacher Discipline Investigation). CBS This Morning also picked up the story, as did EdWeek.

The story has also generated some real-world action on the part of the nonprofit and state agencies in charge of tracking and sharing the teacher data so that abusive teachers can’t get rehired in other stats: Nation’s disciplined teacher data to be audited state by stateStates look to mend gaps in teacher screening systems. That’s the dream of many journalists, and the USA Today team involved in this project seemed to be helping fix a small but important flaw in the teacher supply system. 

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