It was an honor to appear on WHYY’s Radio Times yesterday for their segment on “The State of Camden Schools.” I was particularly pleased to have them bring Camden parent Carmen Crespo on the show along with the Education Law Center’s David Sciarro. For those who want more on the backstory, here it is. But kudos to Radio times for booking a second show, and getting some different voices on.
I’ll let the speak for itself, and if you haven’t had a chance to listen, I advice you do. The combination of knowledge from David’s long advocacy on education issues in New Jersey, and Carmen’s real-life, up-to-the-minute perspective was excellent.
But I want to focus on something a little different. I doubt many folks went over to the Twittersphere during the show, but there were really informed questions and comments there. It highlights what I think is a broader point. If you care about education issues, the mainstream media likely is not feeding you enough. Wonky, in-depth articles just don’t get enough clicks, and it’s hard for a beat reporter to really focus in on a single issue. Plus, reporters are often constrained by having to include quotes from both side, even if one side refuses to acknowledge research (sadly, being objective has come to mean being equal opportunity, not analyzing all ideas with a critical eye). That means looking for other sources. The issues being brought up on twitter were critical, things such as the co-location of charters and traditional schools in the same building, lessons from other reformy areas such as New Orleans, and more. Here’s a sample:
@whyyradiotimes Question: Turn around that last question: Is there ANY evidence that state control makes schools better?— Jersey Jazzman (@jerseyjazzman) August 12, 2014
@whyyradiotimes Would someone be able to please explain the school co-location situation in Camden?— Sue Altman (@suealtman) August 12, 2014
These are really informed questions, and one of the amazing things about them is that they come from people who also do good writing on education and New Jersey. Here’s Jersey Jazzman’s blog, Joseph Russell’s South Jerseyist, Sue Altman as a contributor to Edushyster, and Marie Corfield’s blog. If you aren’t reading these voices or others like them, you’re missing a great opportunity to understand issues.
I want to highlight one more question, because it came up last week on this blog. Sue Altman asks:
If you’re curious about that question, I would go check out Edushyster’s recent interview of Owen Davis. It builds on reporting about the money being made from land deals, legal work and gentrification. Those are all issues that are cropping up in Camden now.