Written on 4 August 2015, 12:38pm under Homegrown
In my school district we’re less than a month away from the first day of school. As I oversee the annual ritual known as “Finish your summer packet or else” I’m also beginning to see the annual resurgence of back-to-school articles. Which sparked this quick post, because what’s the use of having a blog if not to serve as a vehicle for my musings and such.
Back-to-school stories abound. New laptops, Common Core, cost of back-to-school school supplies, and teachers’ tales of heading back to the classroom are typical favorites when other education stories rarely see the light. Here are two that easily come to mind:
School segregation: Nikole Hannah-Jones has returned to the topic she expertly covered on the anniversary of Brown v Board of Education, exploring in The New York Times Magazine how segregation is the continuing tragedy in Michael Brown’s school district one year after his death. This issue is one that adversely impacts school districts across the country. There is little political will to address this situation, and education reporters can bring attention to this through more consistent coverage like Jones exhibits. To paraphrase an Economic Policy Institute report, commentators (and reporters!) can’t continue to write ad nauseum about the “achievement gap” and quote education policymakers citing education as “civil rights issue of our time” and not spotlight the racial isolation of Black students (and other students of color) in public schools.
Homeless students: Like a recent NPR story out of Florida, periodically stories appear on local school districts working to identify and help homeless students. These are feel-good and pleasant. What doesn’t get enough ink is that federal law requires specific services be provided to students without a stable home. The McKinney-Vento Act, which oversees such regulations, mandates that states and school districts register homeless students for school without delay, provide transportation, and deliver other services that are routinely ignored. Education policymakers can’t eradicate homelessness, but education reporters can ensure they are held responsible for providing homeless children with the support they need.
As an education writer I choose to focus on how education intersects with issues of race, culture, gender, and class because this is an area that is undercovered and often misunderstood. I’m not seeking clones, but it would be nice to see more conscientious and painstaking education reporting that carves a new path rather than follows the same, well-worn template.
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