Catherine Venable Moore — Writer & Producer

Fayette County Schools

In Appalachia, Current Projects, Education, Fayette County, Print on July 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Walker School, Fayette County

I’m surrounded by several box feet of newspaper clippings chronicling the past 30 years of the Fayette County School system, leafing through the yellowing history of a troubled agency, playing catch up and attempting to make some kind of sense of its struggles. In 2010, the state took over Fayette’s schools, citing curriculum and facilities problems, but the system has been in crisis for much longer. Here’s an overview of a new series I’ll be working on this summer and fall for the Beckley Register-Herald:

A recent study ranked West Virginia’s schools at 47th in the nation. ranks Fayette County at 53rd of 55 county systems in West Virginia, based on student proficiency and attendance/graduation rates. This bottom-of-the-barrel status calls for an in-depth look at what went wrong, and what’s needed to see positive change moving forward. The series assumes that improvement is needed. It will build a narrative charting the system’s past, present, and future. It will also explore the alternatives parents are choosing over the public system, and some of the major issues currently in play, including finances, school closures, and economic development. It will cultivate parents, teachers, administrators, board members, state department of education officials, experts, and the students themselves as sources. The series will deploy data analysis, as well as strong story-telling and personal interviews, to give readers all the tools they need for an informed and actionable opinion.

Talking with my education sources sometimes feels like entering a strange, upside-down world with a language and culture all its own. Wish me luck, and hope to see you on the other side…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *