Coming Monday - A New Way to Cover Education, It's About Students and Teachers: A Letter from the Editor

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Schools are everywhere in American life. We all attended them. Those with children would have spent a lot of time with them. We pay hefty taxes to support them, and news accounts regularly discuss them.

Nevertheless, consider how much you know about what actually happens in classrooms today. How much do you know about

Get ready to change that. we’re about to take you inside

In one of the most challenging and ambitious endeavors we’ve undertaken, we’ve been working with Cleveland school classrooms since last fall, when students returned following pandemic-induced school closures. Deployed human reporters. The reporter started with students in her 4th grade classroom and this fall he will continue working with the 5th grade students.

Reporters Hannah Drone and Cameron Fields were with the students in class and at home. They have worked with and worked with all the professionals Cleveland schools use to help their students succeed.

We call this project Cleveland’s Promise, which has a double meaning. It’s about the kids who promise Cleveland’s future. And it’s about this community’s promise to provide these children with what they need to grow up – so they can have a bright future.

This is an entirely new form of educational reporting. For countless years, education reporting relied on the traditional reporting of governments and school boards. Many fights between districts and teachers’ unions. Discussion about money issues. School fundraising ceremony. standardized test. school report card. charter school. Educational strategies and theories.

What we’re not writing about are the people at the center of the problem: children.

When we started talking about this at the beginning of 2021, we explored the challenges Cleveland schools face in educating children living in poverty, and what we can do to address those challenges. We set a goal to clarify what the district is doing in

We have long reported how poverty makes education more difficult. Research shows how the brain’s ability to learn is hampered when children experience trauma while living in violence. We also know how homelessness interferes with the educational process. Those without the means struggle to provide their children with the clothing, transportation and supplies they need to attend classes and succeed.

What does all this mean for the children and teachers in the system?

When I was thinking about how to approach my goals, I called Eric Gordon. We have had regular meetings and conversations with Eric, who has been his CEO of his school in Cleveland for 11 years. He has always proved to be an inspiring and passionate advocate for education.

When I raised the challenges he faced, he responded almost immediately. It’s Greater Cleveland set in a school.

Greater Cleveland is a project we started almost five years ago to explore the challenges faced by children living in poverty. For nearly two years, the reporter spent countless hours with a handful of families, documenting the additional challenges that those without means face in making ends meet. Our goal was to revitalize and support Greater Cleveland. Ultimately, the series persuaded hundreds of people to join the Open Table, now called the Community of Hope. Led by the late Amber Donovan, this movement worked with children who had recently left foster care to help them thrive.

I have been a journalist for over 40 years and consider Greater Cleveland to be the high water mark of my career. It opens a window into the daily lives of people who face overwhelming obstacles. It inspired our readers.

I was pleasantly surprised by Eric’s suggestion to use this model in schools. Because this means granting access that schools generally don’t offer. Reporters do not have unlimited access to classrooms. Eric didn’t hesitate, as he recently explained to project reporters Cameron Fields and Hannah Dorough:

It wasn’t what I had contemplated. We have this amazing story telling about these hidden people who are the treasures of our community. The point is to uncover the hidden gems of people whose stories deserve to be told and celebrated for what they can accomplish despite incredible circumstances. there was no moment. There was never a moment when I wasn’t involved in this project…

You know, I’ve been here for 15 years, and in those 15 years, people completely underestimate my kids, their families, and how much effort they put into getting the education they’re getting. I’ve come to believe that I appreciate it.and give Having been in the classroom for over a year, I got to see these remarkable young people, their families, and their teachers in real time at their amazing work. The truth about who my kids and family really are.

Like I said, Eric is inspiring.

There are some rules for this unusual kind of report. Most importantly, do no harm. I will not write an article if there is any indication or suspicion that it will harm the subject of the article. They give us free access to their lives. They should not suffer as a result.

Second, don’t use the actual name. Anyone searching the web twenty years later for details about her one of these students shouldn’t be able to dig up what we wrote about the challenges they’ve been working to overcome.

Cleveland’s Promise goes live on Monday at with an introduction by Greater Cleveland’s lead reporter and editor Leila Atassi, who is overseeing the latest projects. Also coming up on Monday will be the first installment in the series. It’s the highlight.

Create a new story every weekday for two weeks, then settle into a twice-weekly cadence and end up with hundreds of stories. No end date. Check out The Plain Dealer for the story of the series that begins on Sunday, September 25th and continues on Wednesdays and Sundays thereafter.

This project was a significant commitment of resources for us. There are currently about 75 staff in the newsroom. So having her two most talented reporters devoted full-time and not producing articles for most of the year shows how important it is for us to do so.

And I would like to point out that it is only with your support that we are able to carry out this work. The money you pay to subscribe to or The Plain Dealer allows you to hire Cameron and Hannah capable reporters and dedicate them to such a difficult endeavour.

Please come on Monday. I am proud of what your support has produced.

I said earlier that Greater Cleveland is our high water mark.

I think the water level is rising.

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