Friday, October 06, 2006

She's gone!

Education Reporter Claudette Riley who has cranked out some really excellent pieces on the education of the children in our area has left the Tennessean for a smaller Gannet paper in SW Missouri. I hadn't seen her byline in some time--not since the extensive coverage of the TCAP/AYP flap and the school board elections. I assumed she was on a well deserved vacation but who gets a 2 month vacation? So I called her number at the Tennessean this morning and heard her voice tell me that I had reached 'the former desk of Claudette Riley'. Those calls are now being forwarded to Pamela Coyle. This explains why every one and their brother has been covering the education beat at the Tennessean lately.

I consider the loss of a good education reporter at least on par with the loss of an excellent principal or school board member. Their experience, sources and understanding of the system is of huge help in holding the system accountable and letting the community know exactly what's going on in the system--which ultimately results in a better experience for the children.

On the cusp of retaining or firing our superintendent of schools, with a majority of newbies on the BOE and with the budget process just around the corner this is not a good time for Nashville to be without an education reporter that is up to speed and able to crank out the information our community needs to keep abreast of what is going on. Ms Riley was usually the only reporter at the school board meetings. I never saw any other reporter in the committee meetings. She certainly worked hard and knew her stuff. While the Tennessean figures out who will replace her we'll have to keep an extra sharp eye on the system ourselves.

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