I have been a fan of report Avi Wolfman-Arent since he appeared on the education reporting scene last fall. He writes for WHYY/Newsworks, and he has conducted investigative pieces on charter schools, the DOE, opt-out and has also conducted interviews with Mark Murphy and others in the education landscape of Delaware.
Yesterday, Avi wrote a very well-researched article on Delaware’s climbing graduation rate in an article called Progress or Illusion: Examing Delaware’s Drop-Out Rate. Last February, the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Markell were praising the rise in Delaware’s graduation rate, but Avi discovered the increase wasn’t what it appeared to be. He found out it had more to do with better reporting of numbers by school districts than a mark of progress on the state’s part. And the timing issue was crucial on the DOE’s part the day of the announcement, considering their appearance before the Joint Finance Committee on the FY16 budget, their meeting with the House Education Committee on Race To The Top funding, and Arne Duncan’s visit to Delaware the next day. As well, they were beginning to feel the mounting threat from the opt-out movement.
Today, he wrote about the rapid proliferation of charter schools in Wilmington in the excellent Wilmington, The City With Too Many Charter Schools. Avi got both sides and perspectives in this story, with the side of too many charters being pushed by Dan Rich, a member of the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee, and the other side by Mike Petrilli, the President of the Thomas Fordham Institute, a “conservative-leaning education think tank” as he described them. In my research on Rodel, I found the Thomas Fordham Institute is one of the leading corporate education reform advisory groups and has influenced Delaware education reform considerably over the years, especially through Rodel’s Paul Herdman. I take anything Petrilli says with a grain of salt because he is paid a considerable amount of money, like Herdman, to perpetuate the idea of more and more charter schools.
Avi continues to be a welcome addition to education reporting in Delaware, and I highly recommend checking his articles out and putting Newsworks in your favorites! Blogs are very different from mainstream journalism, and we don’t always get both sides of the issues, but Wolfman-Arent does this in great detail with great transitions in his articles.