Media Institute Chides IL Reporters on PK Coverage

In its latest newsletter, the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media chides local reporters for not catching on to some of the subtleties of of Rod's preschool for all proposal: 

"News coverage left a number of educational, logistical and
implementation questions unexamined, such as the benefits that can be expected,
what constitutes quality, accountability, where to find additional well-trained
teachers and so on."

That might well be true.  Tracey?  Stephanie?  Roz?  But most reporters seemed to realize pretty quickly that this was indeed nothing more than a political play, and -- realistically -- moved on. 

From Hechinger:

When Governor Rod Blagojevich announced his Preschool for
All initiative, asking for $45 million in new money, the media gave the
proposal a lot of attention. And well they should. While the evidence is clear
that high-quality pre-K is valuable and most parents support such programs, a
slew of educational questions are nonetheless ripe for journalists to pursue.
But its money and politics that seem to most excite reporters about
preschoolat least thats what a content analysis of coverage by University of
Maryland researchers (commissioned by the Hechinger
Institute) found last year. Blagojevich is running for
re-election. Preschool also has come up in the governors race in
Ohio, where Democratic
candidate Ted Strickland is talking about using $50 million in unspent welfare
dollars to expand the state program.

If Blagojevich is successful in selling his proposal, his
state would become the first to offer pre-kindergarten to every three- and four-year-old.
(Georgia, Oklahoma
and Florida offer it to four-year-olds; New Jersey is building toward universal pre-K, and its
on the ballot in California.)
Yet most initial news reports on Blagojevichs proposal missed that key point
(AP and The Nation are exceptions). And
subsequent news coverage left a number of educational, logistical and implementation questions unexamined, such as the benefits that can be expected,
what constitutes quality, accountability, where to find additional well-trained
teachers and so on. Journalists in

Illinois and other states considering such programs also should familiarize themselves
with studies of the programs in the states with universal programs, which will
help them push experts and school officials to clarify claims on either side. The big question being raised about Blagojevichs plan is
whether its financially prudent for Illinois,
where the K-12 schools already are facing serious funding deficits that
threaten special education and after-school programs. The Chicago Tribune ran an editorial criticizing the universal aspect
of the plan in light of the states shaky financial footing an angle pursued by its education reporters
and the St.Louis Post-Dispatchs ed
staff. Lots to dig into here.

Check out the following links to coverage of Blagojevichs
plan:

Preschool
for some
Doubts
cast on preschool proposal
Illinois
preschool plan spurs concerns about funding, staffing

Filed under: Media Watch

Leave a comment