It all starts with Literacy.

Staff reflections: Howard Goodman


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In this series, “Staff Reflections,” we introduce the members of the Innovations for Learning team, who will tell us what brought them to our organization and why they’re excited to do this work. 
Today: Howard Goodman, Staff Writer 

I’m Howard Goodman and I write and manage the blog you’re reading.

I came to Innovations for Learning in August, after a long career in newspapers as a reporter, feature writer, columnist and editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, South Florida Sun Sentinel and elsewhere, including newspapers in Shanghai and Hong Kong, China. No, I don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese. Those papers were in English.

I’ve covered everything from cops, prisons and city government in Philadelphia to the botched 2000 presidential election in Palm Beach County, Florida.

But my first reporting assignment was K-12 education in Salem, Ore. And for three years I covered higher education for the Philadelphia Inquirer. So I have a longtime interest in this field and a strong appreciation of education’s importance to our nation’s future.

Immediately preceding my stint on higher ed, I had been the Inquirer’s prisons reporter.  And I came to see the two beats as opposite sides of the same coin.

With higher education, the underlying story was aspiration — the crucial issues involving students’ access, whether the cutthroat competition to get into elite private colleges or the increasing financial struggle for a good public education.  What the aspirants understood was that higher education was the gateway to society’s better-paying jobs and a brighter future for themselves. Take the larger view, and you could see that the spread of higher education meant a more innovative economy for the nation.

The prisons beat held the opposite story: the story of American failure. The United States was setting world records for it incarceration rate and the bulging prison population had an unmistakable profile. By great majorities, the inmates were black and Hispanic and male — young, poor and ill-educated, coming from the most crime-ridden and hopeless of city neighborhoods.

There was no easy way to reverse this. These young people had grown up amid family dysfunction, absent fathers, the barriers of racism, the allures of gang membership and drug-trade riches. But there was one place in this morass where society might — just might — make a difference: the schools. If educated, these kids might be equipped to face some better future than prison, than a drug-corner death.

So I feel privileged to be able to work for an organization that doesn’t just believe it’s possible to improve education for so many of the disadvantaged young — it’s doing something about it.

My goal as staff writer for Innovations for Learning is to tell the world that positive change for education is possible. In fact, change is taking place — not just by IFL but by many organizations and individuals. Conceived by people with vision, shaped by digital technology, often funded by philanthropy, new ideas and initiatives are springing up all over the educational landscape.

It’s the education story that doesn’t get nearly enough attention. And it’s the one I hope to tell.

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