Time Magazine: Ed Reform Pub of Record?

We regularly bemoan that the mainstream media doesn’t pay much attention to education reform issues.  Check out the editorial pages of the top 25 dailies, and see how many op-eds or letters to the editor or front-page headlines speak to education topics.  While there are some pockets of strong coverage (USA Today for one), education still lacks the top billing of domestic issues like healthcare or the environment.

And then there is Time magazine.  If you haven’t seen it already, this week’s cover has a picture of a cute baby dressed up as Albert Einstein, under a header noting we have a genius problem.  Or more simply, NCLB is ignoring the smart kids.  Not a new concept, but one that is now getting national attention on newstands across the United States.

Writing about the “smart kids” makes for interesting copy.  While every parent wants their child to fall into that category, it can be difficult to personalize a story on the topic in a way that the reader understands the problem and wants to do something about it (particularly if it may take resources away from their child).  So Eduflack was ready to write this off as a one-time exception, an itch that Time editors needed to scratch.

But Eduflack would be wrong.  Last month, there was the Time cover on Myths about Boys (the good news for those of us with sons is they are not lost causes).  In June, they ran a “Report Card on NCLB” cover.  April brought a cover story on teaching the Bible in public schools.  And December 2006 offered us a great cover series on how to build a student for the 21st century.

That’s five cover stories in the last nine months.  And Eduflack hasn’t even mentioned the April 2006 cover on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Stand Up campaign, billed under the header “Dropout Nation.”

It’s hard enough to get a story written in a publication like Time.  Getting a cover story can be downright impossible.  So what does it say when Time has dedicated five covers in recent months to K-12 education reform issues?  Time recognizes that education reform is a top domestic issue in the United States, and is a top priority for its readers.  There are new and different things are happening in the education arena.  And education issues draw reader attention … and magazine sales.

I don’t know why Time continues to do it, but I’m glad they do.  These collection of covers demonstrate that education reform is more than just NCLB and testing.  Hopefully others can take a lesson from some of Time’s editorial pursuits.   

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