Monday, August 9, 2010

Late to the party?

The attention over the past 24 hours to the changes to the physical and health education curriculum came as somewhat of a surprise to me. Though the Star ran the piece online Sunday, and it was picked up by other media throughout the day, this isn't new. It's old. I wrote about the rest of the curriculum coming into force back at the end of May, shortly after school boards received notice the remainder of the revised curriculum would still be implemented.
I can't find the memo online, but boards were notified in May, after originally being told in April that the entire revised curriculum would be axed as a result of the public backlash (which may have been aided and abetted by media who simply didn't understand what the entire curriculum document actually changed). That's why it came up at the board meeting I was at, which is what led to the article.
I'm not really surprised to see how when the Star pulls a Canadian Press-authored article on the coming changes -- which teachers were trained for back in April and May -- everyone jumps. I get it, it's the Star, the country's most widely read newspaper. One that wasn't in the room or wasn't paying attention when its local boards were talking about this back in the spring, or that wasn't appropriately tipped off by staffers at the ministry when the decision was made to implement the new curriculum, sans the sexual education component.
Of course, it does lead one to wonder whether this article ever would have been written had that particular component not drummed up the attention it did back in the spring. After all, how many media write about changes to the curriculum? A new junior science curriculum was released in the spring of 2008 and implemented in the 2008-09 year. Hear anything about it? Nope.


Banderblogger said...

Maybe I'm just waxing nostalgic, but wasn't there a time when the big dailies had dedicated education reporters that dealt with education news and not just the sensational aspects of it? The new Phys.Ed curriculum, even sans Sex. Ed., is news and, I agree, the Star missed it.

Anonymous said...

some of the larger dailies still do have ed. reporters on staff but very very few small weeklies have that luxury any more. Most don't. They use beat reporters to do education issues as they come up but Hugo's one of the last of a dying breed in Ontario.

I find education news often predictable and very much seasonal.

I wrote exclusively about education in my region but as fewer and fewer families had kids in the system there was just less interest by readers for the glut of education news that sometimes
presents itself.

When fewer than 27% of my regions families have kids in the system, the interest and issues lay elsewhere. School closures are the one issue that dominates lately.

Curriculum changes, EQAO, report cards, etc.etc. are thrown over for politics or news that relates more to those who've either heard the education stories before or who are tired of it.


Education Reporter said...

Banderblogger and CC:
The Star has two education reporters. The Globe has one dedicated to K-12 and one for higher ed. Other metro papers in Ontario have education reporters (usually just one), but they're subject to the caveats CC outlines above.

Even I am not exclusively an education reporter. I spend far more time covering Woodstock city council and Oxford County council. Summertime, I'm as general of a general assignment reporter as you can find. Outside metro papers and even within, it's increasingly difficult to find that specialized reporter who's sole responsibility is a particular beat.

Education in Canada just isn't seen as an important enough beat to survive the day in many newspapers. I say newspapers because beat reporters in broadcast disappeared a long, long time ago. In Ontario in particular, with an increasing prominence of higher-order things like policy and curriculum happening more provincially than locally, it's even more challenging to convince local editors that an issue out of the ministry office on Bay Street is pertinent to a local readership. So, we depend on the few who can dedicate those resources and then everyone jumps on the bandwagon to localize the issue when it "breaks."

It confuses me. It really does. Especially when I look south of the border where education coverage is far more important— although they too struggle with the same issues we do. It's happening at every level too, with reporters specialized in local districts, state matters and federal department stuff. There are so many niches that the U.S. is a very appealing career prospect.

The silver lining? The internet. Those of us with a passion for writing and journalism in specific areas have no limits to how we can expand on this online. Aside helping keep us current and practising the craft on the subject of our choice, it also helps build our reputation — our brand — as a place to turn to, as writers whose experience is valued. It may create a world where those writers are then hired to a newsroom because of what they've built in terms of expertise in an online setting— David Akin keeps coming to mind as someone who works very hard at his internet presence and has leveraged that (either overtly or by chance) into new jobs.

I could go on (and on, and on), but perhaps that's better left for chatter at some establishment, as those involved quaff the beverage of their choice.


Banderlogger said...

The problem is much of the coverage that the big dailies give education, is then sensational slant. The phys.ed. curriculum is a good example of that. Everyone hones in on the salacious details of exactly what the students are going to learn about sex, but they fail to see the significance of the entire curriculum. Sure, you have to give the readers what they want, but there is also a responsibility to tell them what they need to know.

And what's with allcustom including an ad for term papers at the end of his post? That stinks.

Education Reporter said...


The perils of allowing anonymous posting is the occasional spam comment.
It has been deleted.