center for education reform

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Education journalism rating site launches with vow of neutrality

The Center for Education Reform's new journalism-rating site, The Media Bullpen, launched this morning. A new website that will rate national and local news coverage of education issues — funded and run by advocates of school choice — launched this morning with vows from its publisher and editors to stay impartial. Published by the Center for Education Reform, the Media Bullpen's stated goal is to promote better education journalism by judging news stories on their accuracy, balance and context, and to give readers additional information about the underlying issues. The Center for Education Reform is a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that promotes charter schools and vouchers. The Media Bullpen site is also backed by funders — like the Gates, Walton, Bradley and Gleason Foundations — that have traditionally supported choice-based models of school reform. The backers' clear ideological origins earned raised eyebrows from journalists in December and January after the CER posted a preview of the site and began recruiting editors who, in the words of the job notice, both practiced sound journalistic ethics and held a "passion for education reform." (The phrase "education reform," though claimed by various groups, has been most closely associated with those that favor charter schools and are critical of teachers unions.) But Jeanne Allen, the president of CER, said that though she will be the site's publisher, it will have editorial independence from its parent advocacy organization. "We don't want folks who think they know the answer," Allen said in an interview yesterday. "At CER, we think we know the answer, but that's not what this is about."