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A word from our co-founder: why I’m returning to reporting

As a co-founder of Chalkbeat, I’m proud of the network of excellent education news bureaus we are building and of the evolution of what used to be EdNews Colorado into something bigger and better.

And I’m excited that as part of this evolution, I will spend a portion of my time going forward contributing in-depth reporting to Chalkbeat Colorado.

To some of you who have followed EdNews/Chalkbeat from its beginnings six years ago, this news might strike you as a bit odd. After all, in EdNews’ earlier days, I was a regular contributor to the opinion and commentary section of the site, weighing in with my thoughts on a variety of issues. I stopped writing my sometimes pointed commentaries a couple of years ago to concentrate on building Chalkbeat.

And now I’m going to be a part-time news reporter, among other Chalkbeat duties. Wait, you say. Aren’t opinion writing and news reporting oil and water? How can someone who has written opinion go back to newswriting? I believe I can, and I hope I can help send an important message by doing so.

The longer I’ve been around public education the more I’ve come to appreciate the importance of nuance. There are no easy answers to the challenges facing our public education systems. It’s too easy when writing commentaries to sacrifice nuance and context on the altar of pithiness, to choose sides instead of following facts into the murk of complexity.

A consensus exists among Chalkbeat’s leadership, myself included, that the debate over public education here and across the country gives off far more heat than light. My desire going forward is to illuminate issues through strong reporting and writing rather than sprinkling gasoline on the fire by injecting my opinions.

I was a newspaper reporter for 15 years here and elsewhere before I left journalism to work on policy, and then returned to journalism to launch this site and write commentary. So I have far more experience as a reporter and editor than a commentator or opinion writer. I’m excited to return to the world of shoe leather reporting; to dig into meaty issues and present fair-minded reports about what I learn.

My belief is that the work will speak for itself, and that I can and will present nuanced, fair reports. My editors will keep me honest and if readers have a beef with what I write they are sure to let us know.

And there are so many rich topics to explore. There is a yawning chasm between the making of policy and its implementation. The threads connecting policy to implementation to practice are often tangled and too rarely reported upon. In particular, thorny issues of equity and privilege, and the collective impact of thousands of individual families’ choices, are topics that fascinate me and bear exploring.

I can’t wait to get started, and you’ll see some of my reporting on the site very soon.