As those of us who know us probably know, over the past few years education reporter Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog has cross-published many of my education pieces, starting with You Think You Know What Teachers Do, Right? Wrong and including Pearson’s Wrong Answer and my critique of a pro-PARCC testing Op Ed written by the superintendent of the school district in which I grew up.
Early in the planning stages for this trip, we started by planning long weekend trips to various destinations within driving distance, in part to see whether a trip like we’re now planning would be feasible. In November of 2014, we spent four days in Washington, D.C., where our hotel happened to be around the corner from The Washington Post. Valerie had published my pieces a few times by that point, so I sent her a note saying that we happened to be be walking past her building. She invited us up, and we were thrilled to meet her in person and be treated to a tour of The Washington Post’s newsroom.
Valerie was so impressed by Elizabeth’s knowledge of education policy and politics — I believe the question that floored her was when ten-year-old Elizabeth asked her, “So which public schools do you think are worse these days, Washington D.C.’s or Philadelphia’s? — that she offered Elizabeth a chance to write something for The Washington Post. That, of course, led to Elizabeth’s viral speech about the PARCC test a month or so later, and Elizabeth’s publication in The Washington Post and appearance on, of all things, Fox & Friends. Even then, we were planning this trip, and we told Valerie about our then very tentative plans.
Valerie and I continue to keep in touch, and as our trip solidified into reality, she asked me to do a Q&A with her. At first I demurred, as we weren’t ready to take the risk of our jobs finding out quite that soon. But now we felt comfortable going ahead. Enjoy the Q&A, which makes for a good FAQ about the planning stages of this trip!
To top it all off, a radio producer in New Zealand read Valerie’s column and enjoyed it enough to ask if I’d do a radio interview for their radio show out of Auckland. So sometime tonight, while I’m asleep, listeners in New Zealand will be hearing about our plans. I will post a link to that when I get it.