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Journalist Who Made the Jump Has Landed

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The December 6, 2007 Message column focused on The Jump, an organization made up of former journalists eager to help veteran colleagues who've recently left newspapering to take the next career step. Among those featured was Jump board member Todd Engdahl, a multi-position player at the Denver Post for 31 years, who alluded to "projects down the road" when asked about his own future employment opportunities. In the end, that road led to Education News Colorado, a new website that springs from HeadFirstColorado.org, an online magazine focusing on education reform. The new site describes itself as "the only news service devoted to continuing, in-depth coverage of education policymaking in the legislature and state government and to serious analysis of such issues as school choice, accountability and education reform," and early signs suggest that it will develop into a fine web resource.

Education News Colorado has only been live for two weeks, but it's already populated by a plethora of content, including plenty of legislative-news updates mainly penned by Engdahl, an education-bill tracker and assorted timely blog posts -- among them, "It's CSAP Season (Again)," authored by Curtis D. Holmes, a social studies teacher at Smoky Hills High School. Holmes' background informs his comments about the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP), which gets underway in most area schools tomorrow, March 5. "There is an achievement gap to be sure," he writes, "but the biggest achievement gap is between what is claimed that the CSAP does, based on a statement of belief (they create accountability and will improve schools), what they actually do when the rubber meets the road, and the reality of CSAP that I witness each year (and the current system of testing)."

The site appears to be on solid financial footing; sponsoring organizations include the Public Education & Business Coalition, the Piton Foundation, the Donnell-Kay Foundation, the Colorado Children's Campaign and the Colorado League of Charter Schools. And while Colorado Education News is hardly agenda free, Engdahl's solid journalism background makes it far more useful than a good many advocacy sites. After the Jump, he seems to have landed in a good place. -- Michael Roberts

Update, March 5:

In an e-mail, Alan Gottlieb, another former Denver Post scribbler working on Education News Colorado, provides some more information on this subject, including an interesting tidbit about funding that portends a long life for the site. He writes:

Thanks for the nice plug for Todd Engdahl, who deserves every word of it. Ednews/HeadFirst just received a three-year grant from a regional foundation last week, totaling $330,000. This will allow us to expand the site to more comprehensive, daily education news coverage. We intend to give the dailies more than a run for their money on education coverage.

An interesting side note is that I’m the editor of the two online publications, the blog, etc. I was thrilled Todd was available, especially since he hired me in 1988 and brought me to The Denver Post from the hinterlands of Connecticut. I worked at the Post for nine years (88-97), many of them during Todd’s tenure as city editor. It’s great to be working with him again.

Alan Gottlieb

Call it a tandem jump. -- Michael Roberts

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