Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Honey, what you don't know could fill a book

This weekend, I attended the McGraw Seminar for Reporters New to the Education Beat at the Hechinger Institute in New York City.

The information was really good. The sessions were really dense. Really.

In less than 72 hours, I - along with about 40 other journalists from across the country - got a crash course in No Child Left Behind, Teacher Pay vs. Student Achievement, Literacy and the all elusive Rigor, among other things. I believe I learned more about education in these past few days than I learned in 16 years worth of real education.

I have to say that attending the seminar was enlightening. Really, I suppose humbling would be a better word. By any account, I was a crasher to the conference. Sure, I applied and was accepted, but this seminar was for EDUCATION reporters.

In case you've been living under a rock, I cover the town of West Warwick. All of it. Cops. Courts. Sewers. Municipal Government. Everything. The reason I got in is because a good portion of my coverage is devoted to my local school district. I'm glad they made the exception.

Honestly, I thought I'd been doing a good job covering my school district. I wrote about the budget crisis. I've been following their soon to materialize legal woes. I've spent days observing special needs programs so that I can highlight them. I attend school committee meetings. What else could I do?

Apparently a lot.

Listening to the questions the other attendees asked with such authority, I felt downright ashamed. While they talked about achievement gaps, merit based pay and a whole bunch of acronymns I dare not repeat, I realized that there was so much more to education that I didn't know.

So much more of a story that I was missing.

I stayed relatively quiet during the weekend. Honestly, I felt that my questions would only serve to halt the conversation - not advance it. As a friend of mine once told me, I didn't feel like I knew enough to ask a question. So I listened. And took a lot of notes.

Over the next few days, I'll begin combing through my notes (half a stenopad's worth, front and back) to bring the information I learned to the wonderful readers of Ten95. (Sorry for not blogging sooner -- I didn't have my computer with me at the conference.)

If you get nothing else, I hope you'll be able to pull some story ideas that you can use in your district. Stay tuned.

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Posted by T Dot at 2:57 PM | link

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Awesome post. I'll send it to the education reporter at the paper I'm interning at...he'd really appreciate it. And I will too.

Six reporters (me included) covering all of Hayward, San Leandro, and Castro Valley (Calif.)...

We all are having to help out in each other's beats.

Posted by Blogger Aaron Morrison @ 7:56 PM, July 24, 2007 #
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