Chalkbeat

Coming Monday: A fresh new way to see Chalkbeat stories — in context

Exciting news: Chalkbeat is about to get a new and improved homepage! And since we know many of you don’t feel your day has really begun until you visit Chalkbeat, we want to give you the very first heads up before the changes launch Monday.

A little about what to expect: We’re starting small and plan to roll out more improvements in the months to come. Your local homepage won’t change — you’ll still be able to get all of your Indiana education news right here. But now, for the first time ever, we’ll have a national homepage, too.

That new national page, Chalkbeat.org, is where you’ll be able to find the best stories from all our Chalkbeat locations (now including Detroit!). You can also follow Chalkbeat on Facebook and Twitter to find the most interesting developments in educational equity from across our locations.

The new national homepage is a direct response to requests from readers. Some readers are devoted Indiana community members who want an easier way to learn from other locations where Chalkbeat exists. Others live in places where Chalkbeat doesn’t exist (not yet at least!), but still want to follow our coverage from Colorado, Indiana, New York, Tennessee, and now Detroit. We hope we’re serving these needs better starting today.

Another change: You’ll be able to see — and search — Chalkbeat by topic more easily, to find the latest updates on, say, state testing, all across the country. You’ll also have more opportunities to connect local stories to the big national picture, thanks to better options we’re offering about which stories to read next.

We’re not stopping here. The new homepage is just one step in our ongoing evolution to better serve our readers and the story we cover. To do that we’ll need to continue learning from you. Please take this survey to let us know what you’d like to see us do next — and please come back on Monday to see our new homepage in action.

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An Introduction

Indiana education is evolving. Here’s how Chalkbeat is growing to keep you informed.

PHOTO: Alan Petersime
Indianapolis Public Schools students line up at CFI 27.

When I first came to Indianapolis eight years ago, the failures of the city’s largest school district were on full display.

Indianapolis Public Schools was losing thousands of students to township, charter, and private schools. The continued dismal performance of several district schools put them on the brink of unprecedented state takeover.

Marion County was home to so many children living in poverty that they could fill the Indianapolis Colts’ football stadium, the local newspaper calculated, and then form a line outside it more than three miles long.

Among the first people I met in the city was an Indianapolis teacher who went Dumpster-diving at suburban schools for classroom supplies.

Still, the city was coming together in critical ways to support students and schools. Nonprofit organizations filled gaping needs, with school supplies, uniforms, and mentoring services. Education leaders searched for solutions as small-scale as targeted neighborhood initiatives and as big-picture as completely making over the entire school district.

Today, there’s a lot that has changed — and a lot that hasn’t. People across the state are re-thinking public education. Yet in many places, our students, teachers, and schools continue to face many of the same challenges.

I recently joined Chalkbeat as the new Indiana bureau chief to lead our coverage of the city’s schools and the state’s education policy landscape.

I’m coming from the Indianapolis Star, where I reported on education, politics, and diversity issues. I’d collaborated with Chalkbeat on stories about school integration and English-language learners.

I’ll be overseeing the work of our Chalkbeat Indiana reporting team: Shaina Cavazos covers state education policy, dissecting complex legislation and the politics that drive changes. Shaina has been investigating the underperforming Indiana Virtual School, raising ethical questions about its spending of public dollars, and revealing it hired few teachers and graduated few students.

Reporter Dylan Peers McCoy has been following the dramatic changes as Indianapolis Public Schools embraces charter partnerships, turning over control of some of its schools to outside groups.

I’ll also be contributing my own reporting, with a focus on charter schools and Indiana’s recent moves to publicly fund early childhood education, a topic that has gained greater attention with research showing how critical a child’s first years are to future academic success.

We’ll continue to do what Chalkbeat has always strived to do: provide strong, independent, in-depth coverage of efforts to improve public education for all kids, especially those from low-income families.

Please let me know about stories you’d like to see us write, or share feedback about anything our team has written. We’d love to hear from you.

Stephanie Wang can be reached at swang@chalkbeat.org.

Holiday Reading

Here are five Chalkbeat stories to read this Presidents Day

PHOTO: Getty Images
A statue of George Washington with the American flag in the background in front of Independence Hall.

Happy Presidents Day! We’re off today, and we hope you’re enjoying a three-day weekend too.

I’m planning to spend part of today catching up on Chalkbeat stories. Since last summer, when I started as executive editor, I’ve felt like a student again. I’ve never worked in education journalism before, so I’ve tried to read as much as I can — and there’s no better place to start than Chalkbeat’s reporting.

In honor of the holiday celebrating George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and our other past presidents, I’ve rounded up a special reading list — for myself and for you, our trusted Chalkbeat community.

Two stories that take place in schools named after U.S. presidents:

Why one Brooklyn high school is making a big bet on teacher training

Indianapolis needs tech workers. IPS hopes that George Washington will help fill that gap.

Two stories about local education leaders (even though they probably won’t ever get a national holiday in their honor):

Can this Detroit principal help her students learn quickly enough to save her school?

Meet the Memphis educator leading the charge to take down her city’s Confederate monuments

And one recent story that has nothing to do with Presidents Day but is so terrific I had to include it:

Tight-knit and tightly budgeted: Inside one of Denver’s smallest schools

-Bene

P.S. Got other education stories you think I should read? Send them my way!