Written by Karen Wolfe for L.A. CityWatch | VOICES | http://bit.ly/1glVILw
08 Oct 2013 :: Let's hope the cup-a-joe to the LA Times Education page is a slowly sipped Latte Venti, not just one shot of espresso. The jolt provided by the digital distractions needs some staying power for other topics.
Until now, on any given day, most visits to the LATimes.com education webpage would result in one or two articles plus a collection of sensational crime stories whose loose connection to education seemed only to be that someone in the article, at one time or another, either attended or worked at a school, which pretty much covered, well, anybody.
But the iPad roll out, which has raised so many important education questions, seems to be just what the LA Times needed to illuminate readers' understanding of real education issues. Follow-up stories have dug into the various aspects of the iPad plan and far beyond, like Howard Blume's article about a Northern California school district doing digital right.
Award-winning columnist Steve Lopez dug deeper, exploring the software and curriculum, and Pulitzer Prize-winning business section writer Michael Hiltzik wrote about it,asking what educational problem the ipads are supposed to fix.
Curriculum? Educational problem? Wow! The Op-Ed Page has been lively, too, with pieces by the editorial board that at least continue an important dialogue about the responsibilities of the board and the superintendent, even if they demonstrate only a cursory understanding of the issues. Last week, the Times even printed an Opinion piece about LA's charter schools program by best selling author Diane Ravitch, a leading voice on public education. These pieces are far more relevant to education than crime reports loosely connected to a school, and links to them should be included on the LATimes.com education page (clearly indicating which pieces are news and which are opinion).
There will be plenty more to report on. The recent and massive power shift on the school board plays out in many ways, and readers deserve an analysis of what that change means in the form of policies, how those policies will be felt at school sites, or to tax assessments, or in terms of an educated citizenry and how the politics play out along the way.
The Times should shine a light on the importance of LA as the second largest school district in the country. The Times should help readers understand how the inevitable conflict plays out between a board whose new majority soundly defeated former Mayor Villaraigosa's corporate reform candidates and an administration some think represents the remnants of that agenda.
The Times should be assisting the public to have a lively debate about a new curriculum that some see as helping children to think critically, some view as taking the humanity out of teaching and some think will depend on the implementation.
There are some news websites providing this kind of analysis, like the Washington Post's "The Answer Sheet" and the LA Daily News, and for the more obsessive among us, LASchoolReport, Diane Ravitch's Blog and lately right here on CityWatch.
Readers interested in education benefit from an analysis of these dynamic and important topics, and they will continue to be drawn to news websites that offer them.
Need a refill?
(Karen Wolfe is a public school parent and member of the Venice Neighborhood Council Education Committee.)