I was telling this guy at a social occasion what I did for a living — that the work was invigorating and interesting, that I hoped it was making a difference, that I loved my job — when his eyes narrowed.
“Yes, but you’re an education reporter.”
I knew what this guy was thinking, though he didn’t have to say it. He assumed I spent my days covering choir concerts, bake sales and school plays. Education — a low-impact beat.
This guy hasn’t been to Indiana lately.
But more to the point, Indiana’s education policy is changing more rapidly than in almost any other state. What was a fledgling private school voucher program when I arrived is now one of the nation’s largest. Indiana’s charter school market is booming. The state’s constitutional protections for property taxpayers have implications on school budgets that aren’t yet fully clear. The stakes of standardized tests for students and for educators have never been higher. A process as esoteric as a re-write of the state’s academic standards now merits real estate in the governor’s State of the State address.
Covering that has been the real thrill — diving deep into issues that I know impact a great many in this state and explaining what those tectonic and sometimes-complicated changes mean for the average parent, the average teacher or the average taxpayer.
Two years, eight months, one day and 633 posts later, I’m bidding all of that, and all of you, farewell for now. As you might already know, today is my last day at StateImpact Indiana. I’m moving to Seattle to report on education and youth issues for NPR member station KPLU.
Excited as I am for a new challenge in a new place, leaving will be difficult. I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time here. I work with talented colleagues, whom I’ll miss dearly. I’m so grateful for the behind-the-scenes work my editors at WFIU & WTIU News and my colleagues at NPR and Indiana Public Broadcasting undertook to empower me and Elle Moxley as reporters and ultimately make this project a success.
Thank you to all of you who commented, read, listened, watched or questioned. At the end of the day, it’s you for whom we at StateImpact labor.
Hard as it is to say goodbye for now, I leave the project in highly-capable hands. Elle is the right reporter at the right time for this project, especially as the academic standards re-write heats up. Even if from half a country away, I look forward to reading her work. She’s brilliant and she’s a hard worker, and she won’t be alone — my bosses have already begun the search for a reporter to fill my vacancy.
I’m certain I’ll return one day for a tenderloin and a basketball game. Until then, I’ll still be on Twitter. And I’ll miss you all.