Hi, we’re Chalkbeat New York, a news site covering educational change in New York schools.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news organization covering educational change efforts in the communities where improvement matters most. The network has bureaus in New York,Colorado, Indiana, and Tennessee. Chalkbeat was created as a merger of GothamSchools and EdNews Colorado, independent news nonprofits now known as Chalkbeat New York and Chalkbeat Colorado. Our mission is to inform the decisions and actions that lead to better outcomes for children and families by providing deep, local coverage of education policy and practice.
At Chalkbeat, we believe that great journalism, purposefully practiced, can make a big difference. By great journalism, we mean thorough, knowledgeable, and contextualized reporting that helps people make the decisions they need to improve our world.
We’re particularly focused on the challenge of improving our country’s public schools, especially in the communities where a quality education can help transform life trajectories.
As journalists, we are very comfortable disclosing that we would prefer to see students learn more, rather than less, and live richer, more fulfilling lives, rather than struggle. But we do not take a position on the best path to improving schools or even exactly what better schools should look like. Our job is to provide parents, practitioners, policymakers, and citizens with the news, context, explanation, and investigation they need to inform their debates and decisions.
Our approach has five components. We are:
- Focused on what matters most
- Rooted in local communities
- Platform agnostic
- Committed to building expertise
- Dedicated to building a sustainable model
Focused on what matters most
There are endless stories to be told about public schools, the people who work in them, and the children they serve. At Chalkbeat, we try to focus on what’s really going to matter, not just what’s happening. We do this by assessing every development through the lens of five major “storylines” we believe drive educational change:
- teaching and learning: the work happening inside schools
- politics and policymaking: the officials and advocacy groups that create school law and policy
- bureaucracy and operations: the evolving structures governing schools
- out-of-school context: the environmental factors that students bring to school
- educational tools: curriculum, textbooks, standards, and assessments
That means we don’t just report the test results each year; we also scrutinize what the tests say, how they match the local curriculum and standards (or not), and how they influence students’ classroom experience. We don’t just look at what the school board said last night; we examine what their debates and decisions will mean for the way schools are governed, educational materials are delivered, and students ultimately served. And we don’t just offer stories by our reporters; we also share contributions from practitioners, parents, and students.
This year, we are paying extra attention to three issues that seem to be front and center so that community members can engage in informed debate: admissions and enrollment, implementation of the Common Core standards, and the rollout of the state’s new teacher evaluation system.
Rooted in local communities
Education is fundamentally local: locally governed, locally debated, and locally practiced. That’s why Chalkbeat reporters live and work in the communities we cover. And it’s why we focus on both the New York City Department of Education and the Board of Regents and legislature that set education policy for the state.
We publish our stories on our website every day because we know that our most committed readers want a single place to find all the latest education developments. We also publish a daily newsletter delivered straight to your email.
Since our first priority is to reach our readers, we also want to publish our stories in the media you already read. That’s why we’re committed to working with distribution partners to help us achieve our mission of informing education’s diverse community.
Committed to building expertise
Too often, reporters assigned to the education beat struggle to understand the many complex challenges facing public schools and why they matter. Then, as soon as the reporters have gotten their bearings, they get pulled away by some more prestigious beat (or, lately, by budget cuts). The result is stories that can lack context and, in turn, a less informed public.
At Chalkbeat, we believe that education is one of the most important topics to cover—and one of the most challenging. Our reporters and editors care passionately about education and are committed to learning as much about it as possible. We take our jobs as information providers seriously, and so we know that we have to become as knowledgeable as we can.
Dedicated to building a sustainable model
One of the biggest challenges facing serious journalism about public policy is finding long-term sustainable support that strengthens our editorial independence. Our approach has two main components. First, as a network of local bureaus, we can share economies of scale, pulling together to build the infrastructure that a strong news organization requires.
Second, we work with diverse partners to create multiple sources of support. One key partner is philanthropy. As a nonprofit, we work with generous individual donors and foundations that believe in the power of high-quality, independent journalism. Our supporters are members of the communities we cover as well as national organizations dedicated to growing our country’s civic infrastructure.
We also work with sponsors, who can support our work while also sharing their message with our readers. To learn more about becoming a Chalkbeat sponsor, please contact us here. We also accept paid submissions to our jobs board, where the savviest education employers can connect with the most informed professionals.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED
We are always looking for ways to get to know our readers better. We want to hear about your experiences with the public schools, learn what kind of stories you’re most interested in reading, and entice you to contribute to the discussion in our comments and First Person sections.
- To tell us what you’re interested in and what expertise you’d like to share, please go here.
- To send a story idea, email our tips line.
- To submit an idea to our First Person section, send an email to our community editor.
- To learn about our comments section, click here.
- To make a donation, click here.
- To become a Chalkbeat sponsor, click here.
While we await our 501c3 status, Chalkbeat is a project of the Colorado Nonprofit Development Center, a fiscal sponsor. We are actively building a national board with the help of three founding members who are currently serving in an advisory capacity: Sue Lehmann, Gideon Stein, and Jill Barkin.
Working with four founding reader advisors, Sanda Balaban, Chad Gleason, Steve Lazar, and Andy Snyder, we’re also working to grow a diverse, dynamic reader advisory board that guides our coverage, holds us accountable for meeting our goals, and helps us build strong relationships in our community.
Chalkbeat New York
Philissa Cramer is bureau chief of Chalkbeat New York. She co-founded GothamSchools, Chalkbeat’s predecessor, in 2008. Prior to that, as a reporter at Insideschools, she visited schools all over New York City and contributed to the third edition of New York City’s Best Public High Schools. Philissa has also written about education issues for the Village Voice, the Nation, and the New Republic. She studied the history and policy of education at Brown University.
Geoff Decker is Chalkbeat New York’s senior reporter. He joined the team in 2011 from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, where he covered Brooklyn schools for NYTimes.com‘s The Local blog and contributed to the New York Times. Geoff studied journalism at Marist College.
Sarah Darville is a Chalkbeat New York reporter. She joined the staff in 2013 after working as an intern in the summer of 2011. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she edited the Columbia Daily Spectator, and a 2013 Google Journalism Fellow at the Nieman Journalism Lab.
Emma Sokoloff-Rubin is a Chalkbeat reporter and community editor. She joined the team in 2013 after researching education in Argentina as a Charles Howland Research Fellow. She co-authored a book about a Brazilian Women’s Movement and has written for Foreign Affairs, The Nation, The Atlantic, Reuters, the Huffington Post, and other publications. Emma studied history and creative nonfiction at Yale and was awarded Yale’s John Hersey Prize in journalism.
Patrick Wall is a Chalkbeat New York reporter He joined the team in 2013 after covering the South Bronx for DNAinfo New York. He has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Crain’s New York Business, City Limits, and others. He earned a master’s degree from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame. He also taught fourth grade on the South Side of Chicago through Teach for America.
Chalkbeat network staff
Elizabeth Green is co-founder, CEO, and editor-in-chief of Chalkbeat. Elizabeth previously co-founded GothamSchools, now Chalkbeat New York, and covered education for The New York Sun and U.S. News & World Report. She has also written about education issues for The New York Times Magazine. Elizabeth serves on the board of the Education Writers Association. In 2009-2010, she was a Spencer Fellow in education journalism at Columbia University, and in 2011, she was an Abe Journalism Fellow studying education in Japan. Her book, Building a Better Teacher, will be published in August 2014 by W. W. Norton.
Alan Gottlieb, co-founder of Chalkbeat, founded Education News Colorado (now Chalkbeat Colorado) in 2008. After a post-college stint in the Peace Corps (Ecuador) Gottlieb spent 15 years as a newspaper journalist, then moved into the world of education policy as a foundation program officer before returning to journalism. Alan is the author of two books: In the Shadow of the Rockies, a book about the inaugural season of Denver’s Major League baseball team. and the novel Ultimate Excursions. A native of Chicago’s South Side, Alan has a B.A. in English from The Colorado College and an M.S.J. from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
Anika Anand is the director of engagement for Chalkbeat and was previously a reporter for GothamSchools. She has been published on California Watch, MSNBC.com, Salon, the New York Daily News and others. She graduated from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism with a master’s degree in business and economics reporting and studied journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Foundations that have given from 2012-2014:
- Arabella New Venture Fund
- Brett Family Foundation
- Carson Foundation
- Colorado Health Foundation
- Daniels Fund
- Davis Foundation
- Donnell-Kay Foundation
- Ford Foundation
- Gates Family Foundation
- Greater Memphis Community Foundation
- Hyde Foundation
- John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
- I Dream a World Foundation
- La Vida Feliz Foundation
- Lumina Foundation
- Mai Family Foundation
- Moriah Fund
- Piton Foundation
- Rita Allen Foundation
- Sea Change Capital Partners
- Walton Family Foundation
Individuals who have made charitable gifts of more than $100 from 2012-2014
- Marco Antonio Abarca
- Kristin Alcouffe
- John Anderson
- Paul Appelbaum
- Bruce Broderius
- Chris Buck
- Jill Conrad
- Mary Conway-Spiegel
- Boykin Curry
- Lesley Dahlkemper
- Christel DeHaan
- Justin Elghanayan
- Adrienne Fasse
- Jill Fellman
- Roger Fiedler
- Karen Fisher
- Brett Fuhrman
- Chris Gabrieli
- Jane Goff
- Harry and Jean Gottlieb
- John Green
- Gaelen Hadlett
- Mark Hesse
- Ken Hirsh
- Roger Kilgore
- Charlie Ledley
- Sue Lehmann
- Jonathan Lewinsohn
- Valerie Marcus
- Colin Moran
- Bill Myers
- Buffy Naake
- Norwood Robb
- Geoffrey Roehm
- Susan Sawyers
- Katharine Shoemaker
- Anne Sneed
- Gully Stanford
- Rob Stein
- Almirrah Tiller
- Whitney Tilson
- Robert & Betty Tointon
- Eric Tucker
- William Weintraub
- Andrea Weiss
- Richard Wenning