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BEST OF THE WEEK
Many Baltimore education stories are rooted in the challenging issues the city’s schools are facing, while positive stories might cover a graduation. In the Christian Science Monitor, Stacy Teicher Khadaroo takes a look at some of the social studies curriculum changes coming to Baltimore Public Schools through BMore Me and their progress thus far. Her story, Reimagining Baltimore: Schools invite students to help (above), is our best of the week.
 
The BMore Me curriculum launched this spring with 6th, 8th, and 9th graders and is focused on engaging students, 80 percent of whom are black, in their community’s history. Each grade level’s curriculum is focused on answering a key question. “Sixth-graders explore ‘Who deserves a monument?’ by looking at heroes in history and mythology and discussing who is honored locally,” Khadaroo writes. 
 
While it’s too soon to see the long-term impact of the curriculum, the story provides insight into an innovative new program that appears to be giving students a sense of agency in their community. Perhaps there are other similar efforts that education reporters can cover? “Nationally, more than half the states, including Maryland, have shifted in recent years to encourage this type of inquiry approach to social studies teaching, says Lawrence Paska, executive director of the National Council for the Social Studies.
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HONORABLE MENTIONS

🏆 NBC News: DeVos, unions drive Democratic candidates to back away from charter schools
🏆 The Economist: What budget cuts during the Great Recession did to pupils’ test scores
🏆 NYT: Inside the elementary school where drug addiction sets the curriculum
🏆 Seattle Times: ‘It was hush money’: College students got settlements that required silence
🏆 The Atlantic: How the Democrats got radicalized on student debt
🏆 Governing: Absenteeism costs schools money. A simple change can reduce it.

Missed some previous editions? You can see the archive of past newsletters here

A CALL FOR MORE AGGRESSIVE COVERAGE
In a far-ranging new interview, the mild-mannered Chapman talks about the frustrations of being a beat reporter trying to produce important stories and the need for more breadth and depth in education coverage in New York City and nationally.
 
“It’s very hard to execute critical coverage as a beat reporter,” says Chapman. “You have to be working with these people every day. Any criticism has to be airtight. They fight you on everything. So it’s a lot of work. It’s much easier to write pieces that are less critical than are more critical.”

Chapman won’t name names — he won’t even name favorites! — but if you read between the lines you’ll see a powerful critique of education coverage by someone who’s uniquely positioned to know what he’s talking about.

ICYMI: Last week's column focused on early campaign coverage of education issues.

MEDIA TIDBITS

📰  BETTER 2020 PRIMARY COVERAGE: Slowly but surely, I’m seeing more and better Campaign 2020 primary coverage out there, from education reporters and others. EdWeek’s Politics K-12 team has covered the long history of Democratic support for charter schools and the quite limited role charters play in some of the early primary states — and notified us about the long-rumored NEA candidate forum scheduled for July 5th. Chalkbeat’s Matt Barnum fact-checked Bernie Sanders’s errant claim about "massive budget cuts" to education. NPR aired a story about the “progressive primary” between Sanders and Warren. The Post wrote about centrist candidates are looking to become the “Joe Biden alternative.” The Hill covered Cory Booker talking about bad charter laws in some states. Brown University professor Matthew Kraft’s NYT latest oped raised questions about some of the Democratic candidates’ proposals to raise teacher pay.  NBC published a strong piece about charters and Democratic candidates.
 
📰  “EDUCATIONISM” IN EDUCATION JOURNALISM: The week’s most-discussed article on Twitter is probably Nick Hanauer’s Atlantic essay, Better schools won’t fix America, in which Hanauer describes how he no longer believes that fixing education will, on its own, solve broader inequality and social mobility problems. Asked about the media’s role in perpetuating an education-focused view, Hanauer told us that while he doesn’t follow news coverage closely, education reporters may be letting readers off the hook by “not putting more pressure on them to put equal amounts of energy into raising wages.” NYT education reporter Dana Goldstein told us that media representation of non-education issues affecting families “has gotten a lot, a lot better over the past five years or so.” She sees “fewer facile miracle stories.” I would only add that education remains tremendously important, both individually and societally. And thanks to Sean Reardon, among others, we know that some districts are doing much better educating kids than others
 
📰  PUBLIC EDITORS PLAY A ROLE: Public editors, usually charged with scrutinizing controversial pieces of journalism and engaging with readers, are increasingly rare these days. But their value remains clear. For example, NPR’s Elizabeth Jensen wrote about the outlet's overly optimistic coverage of DCPS graduation rates a little while back. And I know that the work of The Grade has helped inform and improve education coverage. So I’m cautiously optimistic about a new initiative from the Columbia Journalism Review to assign four public editors to track the journalism at the NYT, the Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC.
 
📰  COVERING CHICAGO: Asked to reflect on the year since Chalkbeat opened up shop in Chicago, Chicago editor Cassie Walker Burke writes that some of the highlights have been when the new bureau has been able to “make an impact on the education conversation in Chicago.” As for the lows, Walker Burke mentions “stories that I thought would have resonated with readers more than they did.” She cites some of the stories in a series on teacher diversity as an example. In contrast, the response to the outlet’s coverage of the city’s new curriculum initiative has been strong, and readers seem to love the first-person pieces by educators. Check out Ray Salazar’s classroom curriculum reflection for a great example.

📰  MIXED FEELINGS ABOUT FEEL-GOOD STORIES: The Dreamer who’s going to Yale. The elementary school kid who paid off everyone’s lunch debt. The immigrant student who’s going to the Ivy League. I have mixed feelings about these feel-good stories. Obviously, they're uplifting, but they also could mislead readers into focusing on exceptions rather than patterns. Rags-to-riches stories “pervade pop culture and local news," a recent article in Governing noted. But the reality seems to be that society (including schools) usually reinforces inequality. So maybe we should consider that when figuring out which stories to run, and note the systemic realities in the feel-good stories that we produce?

The Grade takes a closer look at education journalism through weekly columns and newsletters and via Twitter and Facebook

PEOPLE, JOBS, & AWARDS

KPCC education reporter Priska Neely (above) has written a fascinating reflection of how her own childhood affected her reporting on the people, policies, and research that shape early childhood. 

🔥 USA TODAY reporters Erin Richards and Matt Wynn were part of a team that compared teacher salaries to housing costs all over the country, a story that we named best of the week last week. They held a Reddit AMA on Tuesday to discuss what they found.
 
🔥 Erin Einhorn had some exciting but bittersweet news: She is leaving Chalkbeat Detroit to join NBC News Digital as a national reporter. “I won't be going far. I'll be covering schools and other issues, covering Detroit and other places, and doing it in exciting new ways,” she tweeted.
 
🔥 Meanwhile, The Grade favorite Monica Rhor is leaving USA Today to return to the Houston Chronicle as an editorial writer, columnist, and a member of the editorial board. Don’t miss Rhor’s last project for USA TODAY: Pushed out and punished: One woman's story shows how systems are failing black girls, an up close and heavily reported look at how black girls are treated by schools.
 
🔥 Freelance education reporter Rachel Cohen took home two local Society of Professional Journalism awards, in the categories of Magazine Investigative Journalism for this story and Weekly Newspaper Investigative Journalism for this story. Congrats!
 
🔥 Go, Zahira! Former education reporter Zahira Torres is joining ProPublica’s local reporting network. Previously, she covered education for The Denver Post and LA Times before returning to her El Paso roots to lead the paper’s investigations. Not too long after, she was promoted to editor, the first Latina to hold the title.
 
🔥 Welcome! John Holland is the new education editor at The Baltimore Sun, replacing Richard Martin who left to join the LA Times. Holland started late last month and will be overseeing the criminal justice and education teams. Also: Let's all welcome Elizabeth Barcelos, whose LinkedIn profile says she's been covering education for the San José Spotlight since April! Follow her on Twitter here.

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EVENTS, DEADLINES, ANNOUNCEMENTS

⏰ In case you hadn’t noticed, #IRE19 (the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference) began Thursday in Houston. If you’re there, be sure to check out the session on "Uncovering inequities in education"  today (Friday) at 3:45pm. The Sourcing While Female panel with Bethany Barnes, Erica Green, Melissa Segura, and Shoshana Walter will be held Saturday at 3 p.m. Winners for the Golden Padlock Awards, “celebrating” the most secretive government agency in the United States, will also be announced Saturday. No surprise then that Michigan State and Charleston County Schools are both finalists.
 
⏰ Books! Freelance education journalist Melinda Anderson is writing a book for Simon & Schuster, titled “Becoming a Teacher.” It’s scheduled for publication next year. It will be “a candid look at teaching—the rewards, systemic obstacles, and nitty-gritty of the job. As told through the life and career of a veteran Black public school teacher,” Anderson tweeted. Meanwhile, education writer Natalie Wexler’s book “The Knowledge Gap is coming out Aug. 6 from Avery.
 
⏰ The National Center on Disability and Journalism at Arizona State is now accepting entries for the 2019 Katherine Schneider Journalism Award for Excellence in Reporting on Disability. Entries must have been published or aired between July 1, 2018, and July 31, 2019. The deadline to enter is Aug. 5, 2019. And if you’re working on a story about disability now, here's a column Amy Silverman wrote for The Grade last year about how to write better stories about students with disabilities. It’s full of helpful tidbits and warnings.
 
⏰ Jobs, jobs, jobs. Chalkbeat is hiring a managing editor to lead their editing team, oversee editorial operations, and boost newsroom leadership. Applications are due June 17 (that’s Monday). The Hechinger Report is hiring a staff writer based in Mississippi. And EWA is hiring a Communications & Marketing Manager “to drive our efforts to inform and engage the national education journalism community.” And for high school students, applications are now open for Bell Voices’ internship. It runs Aug. 13-29 and comes with a $250 stipend. The deadline is June 23.

Belated thanks to Richard Prince for mentioning Kristen Doerer’s interview with Claudio Sanchez earlier this year. Much appreciated! 
THE KICKER
Read it all here
 

That's all, folks. Thanks for reading, and have a great weekend!

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