July 2, 2007

Newsworthiness: WaPo Style

The Washington Post publishes a front page, 2,250 word profile on the mayor’s pick to be the new DC public schools chancellor, Michelle Rhee, to coincide with her appearance today before the city council’s confirmation hearing. Fenty’s Agent of Change.

Several days earlier, the inimitable Washington Post editors buried the story about its meeting with one of the best school superintendents in the country, Montgomery County’s Jerry Weast, on the back page of the Metro section. (See here and here the most recent evidence of Montgomery’s national leadership in graduation rates and AP tests passed by African-american students).

And it’s not like the Weast profile was of interest only to a limited suburban Maryland readership. Weast made news with his comments about NCLB. Indeed, the lede of the Post story (if you could find it) was as follows: “Montgomery County School Superintendent Jerry D. Weast said yesterday that the federal No Child Left Behind law has created a culture that has education leaders nationwide ‘shooting way too low’ and that it has spawned a generation of statewide tests that are too easy to pass.”

Apparently, the Post attaches more significance and news print to whether the untested and unorthodox choice of a novice 37 year-old administrator raised test scores enough in her three years in a Baltimore classroom back in the 1990s to oversee DC’s public schools (enrollment 65,000), over more prominent coverage of one of the nation’s most forward-thinking, accomplished, and effective superintendents who has made Montgomery County (enrollment 139,000) one of the country’s best school districts.