RealJobs: Aundrea Cline-Thomas

With a Tuesday through Sunday work week Thursdays are my hump days. On this day I was dragging. Multiple alarms had already gone off and with each one I thought just five more minutes. As I said in a previous post, the first thing I do in the morning as I will myself out of bed is check my email and twitter feed on my phone. Today I saw a national network posted that later that day President Obama would announce that Tennessee was one of 10 states in the country that would be awarded a No Child Left Behind waiver. No big deal to most, but it quickly got me out of bed. When it comes to education that’s a huge deal! I called the station to make sure they knew and hopped in the shower. I knew I had a lot of phone calls to make as soon as I got into work.

I’m an education reporter. It started with my first job years ago. If you asked me when I was little what I wanted to be when I grew up I would’ve said a teacher. As a first generation American, being black and coming from a very middle class background only to attend BC I know that education is the great equalizer. So I feel there is no coincidence in this assignment. It just manifested itself in a different way because I decided early that I wasn’t going to be able to handle ill mannered children.

It’s not sexy but the education beat is incredibly important. Whether you have children or not you will be confronted with the ramifications of education or the lack there of. The quality of education children receive is everyone’s business! Right now all across the nation it’s trying to be revived after being in cardiac arrest for so long. Schools in Tennessee in Kentucky are some of the worst in the nation so there is a major push to change that.

I digress! (Sometimes I just have to get on my soapbox for one second.) The No Child Left Behind waiver means that states set their own guidelines on how to improve student achievement. It’s the first time that it’s been done. What does this mean? What do parents need to know? How can I make the story easy to understand and visual? I called the PR people from Metro Nashville Schools, the State Department of Education, Vanderbilt’s College of Education and the Teacher’s Associations. I was trying to find out more information while putting potential interviews on standby. Meanwhile, I’m also responsible for pitching other potential story ideas, at least 3 relevant ones each day!

Tennessee Schools Awarded ‘No Child Left Behind’ Waiver by Aundrea Cline -Thomas

I go into the morning meeting just before 10am to tell producers and the News managers what I’ve learned. The Governor would be speaking at noon. All of the details about the plan were not yet available. In just a few hours I had to figure it out, get the necessary interviews, tweet it, keep the staff in the loop and tell the public about it in the 4, 5 and 6 pm shows in one minute and thirty or so seconds.

It was a very busy day! As with everyday it’s a race against the clock. I’m not paid to have all the answers, I’m paid to find them. Some days are harder than others.


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