Many of us working in this space can write these pieces on autopilot. They are derivative when we are in dire need of well reported, factually reliable, and original journalism that tells us what we don’t already know and doesn’t consist of hoary canards.
Instead, what we are getting are screeds masked as journalism.
Education reporting has to be more ambitious — and occasionally it is, as shown by the work of Nikole Hannah-Jones in her reporting on school segregation. While our opponents believe we prefer to live in an echo chamber, we would much rather have our work analyzed—even challenged—thoughtfully and without an obvious agenda.
Ambitious, valuable journalism means not using tired phrases such as “corporate reform” or coming to pat conclusions such as “the real problem is persistent poverty.” It does not sneer at data.
It acknowledges the modern wave of the education reform movement cannot possibly be responsible for policies and practices that have been in place for decades. Good journalism is not caricature and it does not look for easy villains and heroes.
Why is this kind of journalism not more common? In concert with the very uncertain future of the industry, it is no secret that education reporting is afforded less respect than other beats.
When The New Yorker allows its film critic to deliver a poorly informed rant, that gives you an indication of the esteem in which education reporting is held.