Newsprint media coverage of selected education reform reports
Holmes, Ashley Lynn
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An analysis of the newsprint media’s coverage of education reform reports can illuminate the relationship between the American educational system and the newsprint media. This historical analysis seeks to document and explain how a national sample of newspapers and popular periodicals reported on the release of six education reform reports in the United States between 1893 and 1983. This study attempts to answer the following questions: 1) How did newspapers and other popular periodicals report on major education reform reports between the 1890s-1980s? 2) Did patterns emerge in how the newsprint media reported on education reform reports over time? 3) What continuities and changes appear over time in newsprint media coverage? 4) What are the implications for education policy and practice in relation to the newspapers’ and popular periodicals’ coverage on the education reform reports? The findings of this study are as follows. First, beginning with the coverage of Report of the Committee on Secondary School Studies in 1893 until coverage of Conant’s The American High School Today: A First Report to Interested Citizens in 1959, the newsprint media consistently supported the recommendations of the education reform reports examined here and their proposed improvements. Second, the newsprint media’s coverage of education reform reports consistently reflected the general tone of those reports. Third, newsprint media coverage of reform reports changed with the Youth: Transition to Adulthood and A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform. Specifically, the coverage of the Youth: Transition to Adulthood and A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform was characterized by a lack of consensus about the reports on the part of the newsprint media. Fourth, a steady increase in the use of commentary by newspapers was noted from 1893 to 1983. Fifth, the newsprint media consistently compared the US school system to education systems of other nations. Implications of these findings for education policy agenda setting and further research are suggested.