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. For more information on how we think about journalistic impact, check out MORI, the custom WordPress plugin we built to track the impact of our work.
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.
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.