Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series | Linda Perlstein

“The Educated Reporter”

Linda Perlstein is currently the public editor for the Education Writers Association helping journalists improve coverage of schools and children. She is a former staff writer for the Washington Post and the author of two books, Tested: One American School Struggles to Make the Grade and Not Much Just Chillin’:The Hidden Lives of Middle Schoolers.

Her blog can be found here: http://www.educatedreporter.com

Why did you start blogging?

As the public editor for the Education Writers Association, I coach reporters who are writing about education. To stay connected with all of our members I wrote a newsletter, but found that many of the things I wanted to share would be valued by a broader audience. So I started my blog, “The Educated Reporter”, back in September. One issue with a blog geared mostly to journalists is that blogs rely on comments. Most of my readers are journalists and reporters and by nature are very reluctant to comment publicly. Instead of comments on the blog, many of them send me private emails and comments through Facebook. So in a sense, there’s not as much public conversation in the blog as I’d like, but it’s nice to hear from my readers regardless. Plus, my blog is still new.

What would you like your readers to learn from reading your blog?

My main goal is for my readers to think differently about issues they see out there everyday. I feel like in the media, many of the same issues related to education are rehashed in the same language over and over again. I want to be able to highlight common mistakes that people make and hope it will help them become a better journalist.

What was your favorite story to work on?

The most interesting story I’ve worked on came from the time I spent in the middle school which I used in writing my book. But in general, working at the Washington Post gave me a lot of opportunities to come across interesting quirks or trends. Many of which I discovered before reading them elsewhere. It allowed me to think outside of the box. I worked on stories like the phenomenon of teachers teaching out of their field of  expertise or why there were no asian teachers teaching in a school with a majority of asian students. One story that sticks out was from this school system whose policy asked teachers to mix up the order they called attendance. This was so those with last names towards the end of the roster would feel discriminated. Once in a while a brief fun story like that was fun to work on.

In your recent article, “Nobody is writing about learning“, you speak of the lack of stories being shared about actual teaching. There are many education blogs written by teachers who ‘report’ from their classrooms and about their teaching experiences. Do you think these bloggers are the new reporters for education?

Just because journalists aren’t writing about it doesn’t mean the content isn’t out there. Teachers still need for journalists to process the same stories they’ve been covering because their work is presented to a much broader audience. At the same time, I think journalist would benefit from reading teacher blogs. These bloggers are having open conversations and probably wouldn’t talk to a reporter in the same manner. Though we come across a problem since these Edubloggers, for the most part, are  anonymous as a culture and community. We all need to start having honest conversation to learn on a greater scale. Nobody should have to hide.

What advice can you give those who want to write about education?

Most importantly, start at the ground level. Most journalists want to hear from the direct source of the story. They want to hear what’s going on in your classroom or what changes have been made in your schools. I think the public wants to hear from them too. The more honest and open you can be about what’s going on in your classroom the better.

This is part of Schoology’s Behind the Blog: EduBlogger Series. The Schoology Team would like to thank all of the wonderful education bloggers who have participated in the series. For more information about Schoology and these bloggers, please contact Crystal Grandison, Schoology Community Manager, via email crystal@schoology.com.
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