Articles by

Steve Beatty

  • Article

    Published by

    Early-morning bus pickups from The Lens on Vimeo. Steve Beatty is the editor of The Lens, a nonprofit, nonpartisan newsroom in New Orleans. Below, he writes about the impact The Lens is having covering local charter schools. A unique reporting effort by a Knight Foundation-funded nonprofit newsroom is creating more openness and accountability in the sweeping charter-school movement in New Orleans. Most recently, the Louisiana Department of Education said coverage by The Lens led officials to issue a “notice of concern” to a charter school board that violated the state’s sunshine law. That board quickly moved to remedy the problem, and it now makes clear that the public is allowed to speak before the board votes on any matter. Before The Lens wrote about this, frustrated community members simply left the meeting after being denied a chance to speak. A Knight Foundation Community Information Challenge grant in 2011 allowed The Lens to create its Charter School Reporting Corps, now entering its third school year. An editor oversees a cadre of about 15 freelance reporters who are dedicated to covering every meeting of each charter board in the city. That’s no small task, with 44 boards overseeing 77 schools, and most of those boards meet each month. The Lens has covered about 95 percent of all meetings in the past two years, and the freelancers have developed other stories out of the meetings that go beyond the meat-and-potatoes coverage of board meetings.