John Merrow: Trust Teachers, But Verify Success
A veteran education reporter reflects on four decades of covering America's schools.
By Kristina Rizga,| Thu Aug. 4, 2011 2:10 PM PDTIn October 1988, a small group of education leaders came together to define the rules for what they hoped would become the "incubators" of influential ideas for improving public education. They called these new schools charters.
Veteran education reporter John Merrow was in the room, chronicling the optimism of the moment, and he would keep following the charter-school story for the next two decades. The evolution of the charter-school movement, from its lofty original intentions to stubborn realities on the ground, is just one of hundreds of tales Merrow and his team pursued in the past four decades. Merrow, who has worked with PBS NewsHour since 1985, has a doctorate in education policy from Harvard and has written two books on education. His latest, The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership, is a fascinating walk down the memory lane of education reform. It has deeply personal reflections on everything from "testing frenzy" and grading to paying teachers and preventing bullying. Unlike most books on K-12 education issues, which seems to be written for policy wonks rather than parents and students, Merrow’s gets to the heart of the matter with style and grace.
I caught up with Merrow to talk about The Influence of Teachers and his thoughts on improving schools.