November 23, 2008

When the news hole shrinks, any mention is a blessing... well, sort of

Adam Emerson used to be the Tampa Tribune's higher-ed reporter. As the Tribune's owner Media General has been laying off reporters and editors left and right over the past year, assignments have shifted, and Emerson now has the K-12 education beat. So when he called me up with the news, it was also to ask about Florida's graduation rate. Basic story: in the last week, the Florida Department of Education released its annual data on graduation. They published two sets of statistics, both including and excluding GEDs from the number of students in each cohort receiving a diploma. They did not publish the alternate rate that they will have to start publishing in a few years, where the students who drop out to take GEDs will still be part of the cohort schools are responsible for. Some progress in transparency is still progress, and as I told Emerson, Florida's education commissioner is smoothly preparing both his board and the public for when the official graduation rate drops because of the change in definition. I suspect he may also be giving signals to the superintendents around the state that they'll no longer be able to hide problems with the dropout-to-adult-GED path or with GEDs.

We talked about this and other topics in a longish phone call, and as I usually do, I wished him well on the story, especially on getting enough space for it. Well, Emerson's story is now published, and in a 130-word story, my name is in there three times. He's a good reporter, and any gap between the published story and the first paragraph above is entirely a matter of the space he had to tell the story. I like seeing my name in print as much as the next yahoo, but yeow, that's a rapidly-shrinking news hole.

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Posted in Accountability Frankenstein on November 23, 2008 11:10 AM |