Monday, August 31, 2009

A Little Late

Sometimes I really despair about the level of education reporting that goes on in this country, especially in the New York Times. It's bad enough that they employ David Brooks, who occasionally insists on writing about education. Then I see an article in the paper like the one yesterday in which the Times discovers the reader's workshop. The Times describes it at one point as a "radical approach" seemingly unaware of the fact that it's been around for over two decades at this point and that it's the official reading policy of choice for the New York City public school system (which, for those of you keeping track, is where the New York Times is based in case that wasn't clear). It's a little sad to consider that the paper of record is about two decades behind the curve in reporting education news.

What makes the article worse is that it's painted as a pitched battle between the workshoppers (who would just let kids read whatever they wanted) and the core knowledge crew (who think that every kid should be reading Moby Dick). As I've said before, isn't there a middle ground here between Crime and Punishment and Captain Underpants? Certainly things can boil down that simply, but it seems like in real life - or even in the version of life depicted in the Times' story - it's possible to seek out a balance between the two extremes.

I just noticed as I was writing this that as of this moment (Monday morning at 7:21 a.m.) the story is the most e-mailed story from the New York Times. So maybe this is news to people after all. If that's the case, it's no wonder people are confused about education. Their news is 20 years old! That's bad news when a Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll shows that most Americans get their education news from newspapers or straight from school employees. Turns out, only one of those sources might actually be worth listening to.

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