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The Seattle Times state government legislative recap focused on major education reform
Anyone who knows me knows that education is one of my major issues. Public education has been called everything from a "failed experiment" to the "silver bullet." I have written in the past about how it is an issue that remains vitally important but doesn't get covered in the way that it should. While I am happy that Brian Rosenthal is writing about the issue, I am disappointed that The Seattle Times's writer is perpetuating the failed style that has plagued education journalism for so many years.

First, a little background on the issue. The Republican Party controls the education committee in the Washington legislature. This is a major victory for the party to control an important committee in what is known to be a very liberal section of the country. The GOP, who recently proposed large scale education reforms in the state, is now drastically altering their reforms under pressure of opposition from unions, and from withing their own party. Without going on to much of a rant, it is worth noting that this type of action is common on education reform bills across the country, regardless of the proponent party.

While this is a story that is important to cover, it is indicative of the type of journalism that fails to help improve the state of public education in this country. As the famous Washington D.C. think-tank the Brookings Institution noted in their 2009 report on education reform, one of the great problems with education reform is that not many people understand the complex issues facing education. Furthermore, those who are supposed to educate the public on the issues, journalists, fail to do an adequate job.

Brookings noted that in the first nine months of 2009, only 1.4 % of all published journalism pieces dealt with education. And of those pieces, the majority did not attempt to address education issues, but rather focused on the economic and political issues surrounding reform. Journalists have a distinct ability to bring complex social issues to the masses in a simplified understandable way. Because we have that ability we have the responsibility to do this. When it comes to education, however, we fail to address the problems with education in our areas and prefer to focus on the easier to report angles of politics, crime and money.

While I am very pleased that Rosenthal is reporting this issue at all, it remains one of theses articles that will only point out that there is problems in education. If that is all you accomplish then the story is no long that important. We all know there are problems with public education, but very few of us can actually point out what they are. While this story needs to be reported, it does not accomplish anything other than proving that there are political challenges in the Washington legislature in regards to education. I would like to see a story like this paired with a story that address specific problems in Washington schools.
 





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