Demographics & Diversity

Overview

Demographics & Diversity

K-12 Education

The U.S. population is becoming more diverse than ever. In the fall of 2014, the country  reached a demographic milestone: For the first time, black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American children made up the majority of the approximately 50,000 students in the nation’s public schools.

K-12 Education

The U.S. population is becoming more diverse than ever. In the fall of 2014, the country  reached a demographic milestone: For the first time, black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American children made up the majority of the approximately 50,000 students in the nation’s public schools.

The number of non-white students is expected to grow even more over the next several years as a result of immigration and birth patterns among Hispanic and Asian populations. By 2023, students of color will represent nearly 55 percent of K-12 students in public schools, according to projections from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Meanwhile, the student population is changing in other ways, too. The share of students from low-income families is on the rise, as are students — including children born in the U.S. — who are learning English. (One in five school-age children were living in poverty in 2014, based on NCES data. About 9 percent of public school students were English language learners in 2013-14.)

The demographic changes have amplified challenges that U.S. schools have grappled with for decades — challenges such as preschool access, racial disparities in student discipline, and stark achievement gaps that show black and Hispanic students far behind their white and Asian peers. It’s also highlighted the issue of diversity in the teaching workforce, as more than 80 percent of teachers are white.

Racial and economic segregation have also emerged as major issues of concern for students of color. Research by the UCLA Civil Rights Project, the U.S. Government Accountability Office and other organizations has found that Latinos are the most segregated student group — even more so than blacks, though both groups tend to be enrolled in schools where poor children comprise the majority. These schools are more likely to employ inexperienced teachers and have higher discipline rates, and they are less likely to offer students access to gifted education programs or advanced-level courses. A 2016 GAO study finds a big jump from 2001 to 2014 in the share of public schools with mostly poor students who are Hispanic or black. The figure rose from 9 percent to 16 percent.

Today’s public schools also are grappling with issues related to other types of student diversity, including sexual orientation and gender identity. For example, high-profile debates have unfolded over bathroom access for transgender students. In addition, lesbian, gay and bisexual students experience substantially higher levels of physical and sexual violence and bullying at high schools, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2016.

Higher Education

Diversity and demographics are central to key debates in postsecondary education. How much should colleges and universities do to ensure their campuses are welcoming to students of color? Are these institutions enrolling and graduating enough students from lower-income backgrounds? What about the balance between male and female students, both on campuses overall and within specific departments? How inclusive is higher education with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity?

As the nation’s demographic makeup shifts and more people pursue education after high school, colleges and universities are confronting these questions and other challenges that come with change.

Enrollment of minority students in higher education institutions has gone up since the turn of the century. According to NCES data, of the 17.3 million undergraduate students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities in fall 2014, 7.7 million were students of color. Among Hispanic undergraduate students alone, enrollment has more than doubled since 2000 — from 1.4 million to 3 million. Black student enrollment also has seen a large boost, growing by 57 percent in 14 years.

But despite these increases, degree attainment for black and Latino students still lags behind their white and Asian peers. As of 2014, 15 percent of Hispanics and 22 percent of blacks between the ages of 25 and 29 had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to the Pew Research Center. By comparison, 41 percent of whites and 63 percent of Asians in the same age group had a bachelor’s degree.

There are many reasons for the gap. Black and Hispanic students are more likely to be first-generation college students — students whose parents did not attend college — and may require additional financial and academic supports during their college years. Hispanics are also more likely than other groups to attend community colleges. Meanwhile, blacks are overrepresented in for-profit colleges, which have much lower graduation rates than public and private colleges.  

In addition, black and Latino students are underrepresented at more-selective institutions. Part of the reason, research indicates, is that high-achieving minority students often choose so-called “safety schools” that may be closer to home or schools that have large proportions of same-race students, such as minority-serving institutions.

Just a few generations after the majority of colleges and universities agreed to enroll female students, women now comprise the majority of all students enrolled in four-year colleges nationwide. But from campus to campus — within the student body, faculty, administration, and academic departments — issues of gender equity frequently surface.

Sexual orientation and gender identity also are garnering more attention in postsecondary education, as colleges and universities seek to ensure that LGBT members of their communities are supported. The public bathroom privileges of transgender individuals has been a recent issue, sometimes putting universities at odds with federal or state policies that affect their institutions’ access to public funding.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Slight Gains for Hispanics on ACT, but Achievement Gap Persists

More Hispanic students are taking the ACT college-entrance exam, and in some states their scores inched up, new data show. But the achievement gap persists for the class of 2017, with many Hispanic students failing to meet benchmarks for university-level work.

EWA Radio

Are the Feds Ignoring Segregated Schools?
EWA Radio: Episode 140

(Pexels/Pixabay)

In a cover story for The Nation, Emmanuel Felton of The Hechinger Report argues that the federal government has substantially abandoned Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in which struck down the doctrine of “separate but equal” education. Felton found nearly 200 school districts still under federal orders to desegregate, but many of them have failed to submit the requisite progress reports.

Latest News

Rising exodus of students puts more pressure on Minnesota schools

Minnesota students have had the right to attend school in other districts since 1990, but the number of elementary and high school students exercising that option is surging. Last year, about 132,000 Minnesota students enrolled in schools outside their home district, four times the number making that choice in 2000, a Star Tribune analysis shows.

Latest News

Despite Feeling ‘Defrauded’ By The End Of Daca, Dreamers Refuse To Return To Their Country Of Origin

DACA youth were “defrauded” by the government and were victims of their own success, a panel of experts, including DACA recipients, concluded at one of the workshops for journalists at the conference “EWA: Journalism for Latinos in Education in the Trump Era” on Monday in Anaheim.

The elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), announced by the Trump administration last week, was called a “fraud” by the panelists.

Latest News

Back to School in North Carolina—But Not for School Nurses

North Carolina public schools average only one school nurse per 1,086 students, according to the results of the state’s most recent Annual School Health Services Report.

The typical school nurse here serves two to three schools, but some cover as many as six, Ann Nichols, the school health nurse consultant with the North Carolina Division of Public Health, said when presenting these findings to the state Board of Education last month.

EWA Radio

When Students Talk Back, These Teachers Listen
EWA Radio: Episode 139

What do teachers learn from their most challenging students — the interrupters, the ones who push back or whose difficult home lives spill over into the classroom? Sarah Carr, the editor of The Teacher Project at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, discusses a new podcast partnership with The Atlantic, featuring candid conversations with educators and students, as each recall pivotal moments in their relationships.

Latest News

Counting DACA Students

How many students are affected by President Trump’s decision to end the program that shields young, undocumented immigrants, ages 15 and up, from deportation?

Counting students who have received approval for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) isn’t easy. The reason is that schools, both high schools and colleges, generally don’t ask students if they have DACA status. So the data aren’t collected. 

Agenda

Covering Campus Conflict in the Time of Trump: Agenda
Atlanta • October 2–3, 2017

Monday, October 2, 2017

10 a.m.: (Optional) Journalists’ Tour of CNN

CNN has graciously agreed to give 20 EWA members a journalists-only tour of their newsroom, and a chance to talk with members of CNN’s newsgathering, digital and data analysis teams to learn about their state-of-the art techniques of building traffic. The tour will start at 10 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters, located at One CNN Center, Atlanta, GA 30303. Please be at the entryway at 9:45 a.m. so you can go through security.

Latest News

5 Former Education Secretaries: Keep DACA Intact

The Obama-era program that shields nearly 800,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation just got a powerful endorsement: Five former U.S. education secretaries, both Republicans and Democrats, have written to Congress asking lawmakers to keep the program intact.

Latest News

Who Benefits From the Expansion of A.P. Classes?

Millions of federal and state dollars are spent each year on increasing the number of Advanced Placement classes in low-income majority black and Latino high schools. Is this a benefit to the students or a payday for the testing company?

Latest News

‘We Didn’t Know It Was This Bad’: New Act Scores Show Huge Achievement Gaps

New results from the nation’s most widely used college admission test highlight in detailed fashion the persistent achievement gaps between students who face disadvantages and those who don’t.

Scores from the ACT show that just 9 percent of students in the class of 2017 who came from low-income families, whose parents did not go to college, and who identify as black, Hispanic, American Indian or Pacific Islander are strongly ready for college.

EWA Radio

The End of DACA?
EWA Radio: Episode 138

With the Trump administration’s announcement of plans to phase out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), a key focus is on college students who fear deportation. But ending DACA, which offers protections to roughly 800,000 immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children, has significant repercussions for K-12 school communities as well.  

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s the Price of High-Quality Child Care for All Kids?

Taryn Morrissey recalls that when she had her first child several years ago, “I knew how expensive it was going to be.” Morrissey is, after all, an associate professor at American University who studies child-care policy. Then she started shopping for child-care centers and got hit with sticker shock.

“It’s REALLY expensive,” she said with a laugh.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Hispanics Now Nearly One-Quarter of U.S. Students, Data Reveal

New U.S. Census data show a dramatic increase in the number of Hispanics attending school, reaching nearly 18 million in 2016. The figure — which covers education at all levels — is double the total 20 years earlier.

“Hispanic students now make up 22.7 percent of all people enrolled in school,” said Kurt Bauman, the chief of Census Bureau’s Education and Social Stratification Branch, in a statement.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

New Poll: Public Values Career Classes, Support Services at Schools

When it comes to judging a school’s quality, what matters most? A new poll suggests the American public puts a premium on offerings outside of traditional academics, including career-focused education, developing students’ interpersonal skills, and providing after-school programs and mental health care.

At the same time, even as local schools were generally viewed favorably in the national survey, parents said they would consider taking advantage of vouchers for private or religious schools if the price was right.

Latest News

Many Worry That Students of Color Are Too Often Identified as Disabled. Is the Real Problem the Opposite?

New research challenges a piece of common wisdom about special education: that black students are too often told they have a disability. It’s true that 15 percent of black students in the U.S. are identified as disabled, while only 13 percent of white students are. Some worry that misplacing black students in special education segregates them and lowers expectations for their success. The disparity has even prompted action from the federal education department, which has long cautioned school districts against over-identifying students of color.

Latest News

Even With Affirmative Action, Blacks and Hispanics Are More Underrepresented at Top Colleges Than 35 Years Ago

Even after decades of affirmative action, black and Hispanic students are more underrepresented at the nation’s top colleges and universities than they were 35 years ago, according to a New York Times analysis.

The share of black freshmen at elite schools is virtually unchanged since 1980. Black students are just 6 percent of freshmen but 15 percent of college-age Americans, as the chart below shows.

Latest News

Uncertainty for DACA Recipients

Currently, most undocumented students are protected from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, a policy enacted by the Obama administration. But with immigration arrests up, many are unsure about their future.

EWA Radio

When Students Attend White-Supremacy Rallies, How Should Colleges Respond?
EWA Radio: Episode 136

In the aftermath of the white supremacy gathering in Charlottesville, Va., some universities are under pressure to take action against students who attend rallies organized by hate groups. Nick Roll of Inside Higher Ed discusses the situation and how postsecondary institutions are responding. How do universities balance respect for free speech with concerns about cultivating an inclusive campus environment?

Latest News

University of Texas at Austin Removes Confederate Statues in Overnight Operation

With little warning, the University of Texas at Austin removed three Confederate monuments from its campus overnight, 10 days before classes are set to begin. Work to remove statues of two Confederate generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and the Confederate cabinet member John Reagan began late Sunday and continued into the early morning. A statue of James Stephen Hogg, Texas’ 20th governor, was also being removed.

EWA Radio

On the Menu: Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts and School Nutrition
EWA Radio: Episode 135

Tovin Lapan of The Hechinger Report visited Greenville, Miss., to examine how President Trump’s proposed budget cuts could impact rural school communities that depend heavily on federal aid for after-school and student nutrition programs. What does research show about the connections between connecting students’ eating habits and test scores?

Latest News

AP Interview: DeVos Says She Should Have Decried Racism More

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday distanced herself from her comment earlier this year about the nation’s historically black colleges and universities being pioneers of school choice, saying that in the past “there were no choices” for African-Americans in higher education.

EWA Radio

‘Eddie Prize’ Winner Kelly Field: Reporting on Native American Students
EWA Radio: Episode 134

Journalist Kelly Field recently won a top honor at EWA’s National Seminar for her compelling series, “From the Reservation to College,” on the education of Native American students. Field’s coverage for The Chronicle of Higher Education — supported by an EWA Reporting Fellowship — follows several students from the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana. Their experiences highlight the significant educational challenges facing Native communities in the U.S. today.

Latest News

When Universities Swallow Cities

In March 2016, as New Haven struggled to balance its shrinking budget, Mayor Toni Harp joined alders and local unions calling for a State Senate bill to help fine-tune Yale University’s property-tax-exempt status. Universities and their medical centers are registered with the Internal Revenue Service as 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit groups. Because of the public services that higher-education institutions provide to surrounding communities, their property holdings are exempt from taxation in all 50 states.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

More Efforts Proposed in Congress to Help Undocumented Youth

"Interviewing DREAMers" panel at EWA's 2016 National Seminar in Boston

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — or DACA — continues to make headlines, with several bills introduced in Congress this month aimed at protecting undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children and providing them with a path to citizenship.

DACA provides recipients access to higher education, putting educators on the front lines of the debate over undocumented youth. Many colleges and universities have created special websites or designated personnel to help DACA students navigate college and feel safe on campus.

Latest News

Rising Popularity Of Dual-Language Education Could Leave Latinos Behind

WASHINGTON — Meri Kolbrener moved to a gentrified neighborhood in northwest D.C. so her children could get a guaranteed spot in the Oyster-Adams Bilingual School. The public school is not far from where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner live, a neighborhood that used to be predominantly Latino but changed color years ago. Now, many wealthy white parents, who once kept their children out of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), are flocking to programs like Oyster-Adams’ because, as Principal Mayra Canizales put it, “dual language became sexy.”

Latest News

90% Of Parents Think Their Kids Are On Track In Math & Reading. The Real Number? Just 1 In 3, Survey Shows

One parent thought teachers with emergency certificates had CPR training. Another heard the phrase “school climate” and thought her child’s school had a broken air-conditioning system.

These are just a few of the misconceptions the Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Learning Heroes has heard while trying to help parents understand the jargon-heavy education landscape at their children’s schools. And though they may be amusing examples, they reveal a concerning communication gap between schools and parents.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Parent Activists Flex Their Muscles in Education Policy Debates

From room mom to PTA president, parents have long played an important and active part in their children’s schools. But increasingly, parents are taking on a new, potentially powerful, role — activist.

In many states, parent groups have become a political force to be reckoned with — swarming  city halls and state capitols and flooding the phone lines of elected officials to voice their opinions on issues such as the Common Core State Standards, standardized testing, and school choice.

Latest News

6 Problems The NAACP Has With Charter Schools — And 5 Of Its Ideas For How To Reshape The Sector

After calling for a temporary ban on new charter schools last year, the NAACP has revealed what would it would take to get the civil rights group to support the privately run, publicly funded sector.

The lengthy report, released Wednesday, allows for the fact that some charters are doing well, but also relates an exhaustive list of concerns. About 5 percent of the country’s public school students attend charters, with an even larger share of black students, the focus of the NAACP report.

Latest News

He Called The School Board Racist. Now, He’s Joined It.

DECATUR, Ill. — Back when he was a member of a notorious street gang, Courtney Carson was as loyal as they come. When he heard that a confidant had flipped from the Black Stones to the rival Gangster Disciples, he rounded up some friends and confronted the defector at a high school football game.

The warring sides stomped up the stadium’s concrete bleachers, taunting each other. Then someone threw a punch. In no time, fists and feet were flying and the crowd was running for cover.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Arizona State Steps Up Game on Studying Latinos’ Political Engagement

Arizona State University, in an effort to break new ground around the engagement of Latinos in the political process, has created a new chair on the topic and hired a top political scientist, Rodney Hero, to fill the post.

The new chair is just the latest move by ASU, which serves nearly 100,000 students, to enhance its Hispanic programs as its Latino enrollment has increased (to about 20 percent).

Latest News

Ruling Could Expand Special Education Services To More Iowa Students

A legal judgment could force Iowa schools to change how they determine which students qualify for special education, potentially allowing thousands of more children to qualify for services, advocates say.

Administrative Law Judge Christie J. Scase issued a ruling that requires the Iowa Department of Education to reimburse an Urbandale family for private tutoring costs incurred after their child was denied access to special education programming at school. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Finding — and Keeping — Teachers of Color

The nation’s public schools are serving increasingly diverse populations of students, yet the teachers in those schools are mostly white.

“It is absolutely right — we do not have parity,” said Richard Ingersoll, a professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, during the Education Writers Association’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

He and other experts gathered for the EWA panel last month talked about a problem many school districts struggle with: How to recruit and retain teachers of color.

Latest News

Race and Ethnicity Is Top Diversity Issue for Education Journalists – Education and the Media

Education journalists rank racial and ethnic diversity as the highest priority among a range of diversity goals for their profession, according to a survey released Monday by the Education Writers Association. Nearly half of the 170 survey respondents ranked racial/ethnic diversity as the top priority, while 27 percent chose economic class diversity and 13 percent picked language diversity. The other diversity choices receiving lower rankings were gender, generational, physical ability, and sexual orientation. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Trump Era Serves Up ‘Teachable Moments’ for Character Ed.

Days after Donald Trump won the White House, the Brookings Institution published an essay suggesting the 2016 presidential election should serve as a “Sputnik moment” for character education.

The campaign’s “extraordinary vitriol and divisiveness” offers a strong argument for a “renewed emphasis on schools’ role in developing children as caring, empathetic citizens,” wrote Brookings scholar Jon Valant.

Latest News

Alabama Schools Struggle With Teacher Diversity

While evidence shows a diverse teacher workforce can benefit all students, researchers are finding just how important it is for black students to have black teachers.

But that’s not always easy to accomplish in Alabama. Ten school systems in North Alabama have no black classroom teachers.

Though 33 percent of public school students are black, only 19 percent of Alabama’s teachers are, and while 55 percent of students are white, nearly 79 percent of teachers are white.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Keeps Public School Parents Awake at Night?

When it comes to their children’s education, what are parents’ biggest concerns? Paying for college is No. 1. After that, they worry about their children’s happiness and safety at school.

But academics? Not so much. Parents do care, but as long as their children are perceived to be happy and succeeding — especially if that’s what teachers are telling them – they figure everything is fine in that area.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Community College Challenges Explored at Civil Rights Conference

The ongoing issues Latino students face in community colleges was the focus of a town hall meeting held earlier this month Phoenix, Arizona, during the annual conference this week of the largest Latino civil right organization in the U.S.

While more Hispanic students are graduating high school and enrolling in college, many still need remediation or are taking longer than the standard two years to earn an associate’s degree.

Latest News

DeVos’s Hard Line on New Education Law Surprises States

Betsy DeVos, who made a career of promoting local control of education, has signaled a surprisingly hard-line approach to carrying out an expansive new federal education law, issuing critical feedback that has rattled state school chiefs and conservative education experts alike. President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015 as the less intrusive successor to the No Child Left Behind law, which was maligned by many in both political parties as punitive and prescriptive.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

New ‘Gates Scholarship’ to Offer Full Ride to 300 Students of Color

Starting July 15, high school seniors who are Hispanic, from low-income backgrounds and believe they have strong leadership credentials can apply for a private scholarship to cover virtually all college expenses.

Launched this year, the new program from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will award its first full scholarships to 300 students in 2018. The support will include not just tuition, but also cover fees, housing, books and other costs.

Latest News

All-boys’ High School Completes First Year; Boasts Wait List For Fall

One of D.C.’s newest schools, Ron Brown College Preparatory High School is also its only single-sex public high school. Named after the first African-American U.S. Commerce Secretary, the school is part of D.C. Public Schools’ “Empowering Males of Color” initiative.

The effort seeks to help the city’s young African-American and Hispanic men, a group that has struggled for years: In the 2014-15 school year, just 57% of black males in D.C. and 60% of Hispanic males graduated on time, compared with 87% of their white peers, according to district statistics.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond Boundaries: Deeper Reporting on School Attendance Zones

When Baltimore County school officials wanted to move boundary lines in 2015, some parents predicted declining property values and voiced fears of sending their children to school with “those kids.”

Liz Bowie, a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, pushed for clarity on the coded language. Doing so, she told a packed room at the Education Writers Association’s recent National Seminar, is crucial to news coverage of school boundaries and the often related issues of segregation, class bias, and equity.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Sourcing Stories: Getting Beyond the ‘Usual Suspects’

Tired of interviewing the same people?

Keith Woods, the vice president of newsroom training and diversity at NPR, has an antidote for you: Reach out beyond the familiar faces to more diverse sources.

Woods spoke at an EWA National Seminar session called “Untold Stories: Broadening Your Source Base,” or, as moderator Dakarai Aarons, the vice president of strategic communications at the Data Quality Campaign, dubbed it, “Ditching the Usual Suspects.”

Latest News

Examining The Achievement Gap Between White And Black Students In Alabama

While test scores in Alabama schools generally mirror poverty levels, poverty is only one factor, research has shown. 

The Alabama state department of education’s chief academic officer Dr. Barbara Cooper is charged with improving achievement for the 730,000 students in Alabama’s public schools. 

Even though black students in affluent areas perform better than black students in impoverished areas, there is still a gap, Cooper said.

Key Coverage

The Fight for Fairmount Park Elementary

She applied her “listen-to-me lipstick,” a hot pink that commanded attention, and got into her Toyota 4Runner for the long drive to Fairmount Park Elementary. It was time for some frank talk with the teachers who were struggling in one of Pinellas County’s toughest schools.

Latest News

Report: Black Girls Thought to Need Less Protection

Adults think that black girls are less innocent, less in need of protection and nurturing, and seem older than similarly aged white girls, which could lead to stiffer punishments in school, a new report said Tuesday.

The report also said American adults think black girls know more about adult topics and about sex than white girls of the same age. And those perceptions are greater when it comes to younger black girls ages 5-9 and 10-14. The discrepancy continues to a lesser degree with girls ages 15-19.

Latest News

Why Some of D.C.’s Leading Men of Color are Heading Back to Preschool

At Turner Elementary School in Southeast D.C., Torren Cooper is the only male of color who works directly in the classroom, even though the student body is 98 percent African American. Cooper is a literacy coach helping some of Turner’s youngest pupils with their reading and writing skills, including rhyming, alliteration, letter sounds and writing their names.

He is one of eight young men of color doing this work in D.C. Public Schools through a new program called the Leading Men Fellowship, which is wrapping up its first year.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Five Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

A wrap-up of education news this week involving or affecting Latino students:

Big step for SUNY Albany: Havidán Rodríguez, a higher education leader in Texas, is the first Hispanic president of the State University of New York at Albany. “I am honored and privileged to have been chosen to serve as the University at Albany’s next president,” Rodríguez said.

Latest News

Educators Examine Minority Teacher Retention Crisis

Black teachers say they face numerous challenges in public schools that cause many to leave the profession. Indeed, the teachers of color shortage “has as much or more to do with retention than recruitment,” according to a recent report from NEA Today.

Although recruitment efforts have improved over the past years, minority teachers often find themselves victim to the same policies that impact their students.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Strong Scores for Hispanic Students Helps NYC’s Success Academy Win Charter School Prize

Success Academy Charter Schools, a network of 41 schools in New York with a high Latino student enrollment, was awarded the 2017 Broad Prize for charter schools this month along with $250,000 in prize money.

The prize, awarded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, recognizes a public charter school management organization that has demonstrated high academic achievement, particularly for low-income students and students of color. The foundation announced the award during the National Charter Schools Conference held in Washington, D.C.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Teachers Union Offers Support to Educators in Puerto Rico

Educators in Puerto Rico are getting support from the American Federation of Teachers in their efforts to thwart a plan to close schools as a way of helping the island deal with its financial crisis.

AFT president Randi Weingarten sent a letter in April to the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico urging them “not to make devastating funding cuts to the education system that serves the 379,000 students in Puerto Rico.” The federal fiscal board is overseeing Puerto Rico’s efforts to deal with bankruptcy and resolve its debt.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Details, Data and Voices: K-12 Reporters Tell ‘How I Did the Story’

A teacher shortage in Oklahoma. Data-driven analysis of the Detroit School Board election. Teen suicide. The impact of an influx of Central American youths on a high-poverty Oakland school. Four of this year’s Education Writers Association award finalists recently shared their stories and took questions from a packed room at the EWA National Seminar on how they did their work.

Rocking the Beat

Blog: The Educated Reporter

D.C.’s ‘Opportunity Academies’ Aim to Get Students Back on Track

The rapid improvement over the past decade in Washington, D.C.’s district-run schools — as measured by rising test scores and graduation rates — has drawn national notice.

But officials with the District of Columbia Public Schools remain concerned that too many students still slip through the cracks, with 31 percent failing to graduate high school on time, based on the most recent DCPS data.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

DeVos Won’t Be Speaking at EWA Seminar But Here’s What Other Education Secretaries Had to Say

When U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos declined EWA’s invitation to speak at its 70th National Seminar, it prompted coverage from The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, among others, in part because of her already limited press availability in the nearly four months since she was appointed to the cabinet post.

EWA Radio

‘Bridging the Divide’ – Can Schools Break Down Racial Barriers?
EWA Radio: Episode 118

A recent Baltimore Sun series by reporters Liz Bowie and Erica Green offers a penetrating look at issues of race and segregation in Maryland public schools. The four-part project, supported by an EWA Reporting Fellowship, examines hurdles to school integration, community resistance to redrawing boundary lines, and how well-intentioned efforts to create more diverse campuses often fall short.

Member Stories

March 23 – 30
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Natalie Pate reports for the Statesman Journal as the Oregon Education Association keeps the pressure on the state legislature to add money to the budget for education.


 

Justin Murphy and Erica Bryant of the Democrat and Chronicle discuss Rochester Career Mentoring Charter School, which has been plagued by teacher turnover and scandal.


 

Key Coverage

Hartford, Conn., Experiment Shows Challenges, Rewards of Diversity in Schools

Twenty years ago, public education in Baltimore and this New England capital had much in common.

Tens of thousands of minority students, living in pockets of poverty, attended schools that weren’t preparing them to graduate.

But after a lawsuit, Hartford took a different path. The city and state committed to take apart the system of de facto segregation in its public schools and institute voluntary integration.

Key Coverage

Within Integrated Schools, De Facto Segregation Persists

They were classmates and best friends, and they both wanted to get into the 11th-grade Advanced Placement English class at Columbia’s Hammond High School.

Since meeting in summer school just before ninth grade, Mikey Peterson and Eli Sauerwalt had been through a lot together. They’d each battled depression, they’d failed classes, they’d encouraged each other to do better.

As 10th-graders in English, the teens were each hoping for a prized recommendation to the AP English class for their junior year.

Key Coverage

Struggles of New East Baltimore School Show Challenges Of Integration

On the day that the Henderson-Hopkins school opened its doors to let children in, Crystal Jordan marveled at its light-filled rooms, curving stairs and interior play areas.

She couldn’t believe her family’s good fortune. In a city with so many struggling schools, her fifth-grade daughter was entering a new public school backed by some of the city’s most powerful institutions, and driven by a vision in which students of all socioeconomic backgrounds would learn together, and be held to high standards.

Key Coverage

Bridging the Divide
The Struggle to Move Past Segregated Schools

Jeff Sanford went to the debate at the high school cafeteria with an open mind.

The boundary lines for 11 schools in the Catonsville area had to be redrawn to relieve overcrowding. But there was a chance to achieve something more, something that could help improve the lives of all children: integration.

Sanford, an African-American father of two boys, had volunteered to represent Johnnycake Elementary on the boundary committee that would recommend changes to the Baltimore County school board.

Member Stories

March 16 – 23
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business provides updates on the escalating efforts from the Motor City’s public school district to block the state’s School Reform Office from closing 16 schools that have been deemed failing for at least three years.


 

For the CTPostLinda Conner Lambeck takes a look at who is left out of a new school funding proposal that Stamford Mayor David Martin calls ”woefully inadequate.”


 

Key Coverage

Struggles of New East Baltimore School Show Challenges of Integration

On the day that the Henderson-Hopkins school opened its doors to let children in, Crystal Jordan marveled at its light-filled rooms, curving stairs and interior play areas.

She couldn’t believe her family’s good fortune. In a city with so many struggling schools, her fifth-grade daughter was entering a new public school backed by some of the city’s most powerful institutions, and driven by a vision in which students of all socioeconomic backgrounds would learn together, and be held to high standards.

EWA Radio

“The View From Room 205”: Can Schools Conquer Poverty?
EWA Radio: Episode 109

Peabody Award-winning radio journalist Linda Lutton of WBEZ in Chicago discusses her new documentary following a class of fourth graders in one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Is a “no excuses” school model a realistic approach for kids whose families are struggling to provide basics like shelter and food? How does Chicago Public Schools’ emphasis on high-stakes testing play out at William Penn Elementary? How can education reporters make the most of their access to classrooms, teachers, students, and families? And what lessons from “Room 205” could apply to the ongoing debate over how to best lift students out of poverty?

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Report: Latino Kindergartners Trail White Peers in Math by 3 Months

Latino students in kindergarten trail their white peers in math by approximately three months’ worth of learning, a new study by Child Trends Hispanic Institute has found. 

Researchers drew a nationally representative sample of students from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 2010-2011 who were followed through the end of their fifth-grade year. Sixty-two percent of the 2,199 Latino students studied had at least one foreign-born parent, and 45 percent spoke only Spanish or predominantly Spanish at home. Nearly half lived in poverty.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Education Deans Share Ideas for Recruiting, Retaining Latino Teachers

Last summer, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics convened a meeting of education deans from Hispanic-serving institutions across the country to brainstorm ideas for getting more Latinos into the teaching profession. The group recently released a white paper with their recommendations — among them a challenge to recognize and remove implicit bias in education.

EWA Radio

‘The Book of Isaias’: A Memphis DREAMer’s Uncertain Path
EWA Radio: Episode 106

Journalist Daniel Connolly spent a year embedded at a Memphis high school to learn first-hand about the educational experiences of Hispanic immigrants’ children. Connolly’s new book focuses on star student Isaias Ramos, “the hope of Kingsbury High.” The author explores how Isaias, born in the U.S., seeks to overcome obstacles to his plans for college. How did Connolly (The Memphis Commercial Appeal) gain such extraordinary access to the students, educators, and families of this school community? What does Isaias’ journey tell us about the hopes and aspirations of Hispanic immigrant families? And how are real world realities pressuring public schools to redefine expectations for student success?

Key Coverage

Broke: Why More California Families Are Becoming Homeless

California is failing to keep parents with young children from slipping into extreme poverty and, ultimately homelessness.

Despite federal and state money earmarked specifically to support children’s wellbeing, government programs are inadequate to meet the region’s rising housing costs and falling incomes, leaving the poorest families on the street.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Georgia Judge: DACA Students Can Pay In-State Tuition Rate

Undocumented immigrants in Georgia who came to the U.S. as children and have received temporary protection from deportation under the Obama administration will now be able to pay in-state tuition at the state’s colleges and universities, a judge ruled in the years-long court case Tuesday.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

What’s Next for the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics?
A Q&A With Outgoing Executive Director Alejandra Ceja

Alejandra Ceja has been the executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics since 2013 — a position she’ll give up at noon on Jan. 19, the day before the presidential inauguration. I recently sat down with her at the U.S. Department of Education to talk about the state of Latino education, the Initiative’s first 25 years, and what we can expect from the Initiative under the next administration. 

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length. 

EWA Radio

‘Unprepared’ in Memphis: The Realities of College Readiness
EWA Radio: Episode 99

In a new series, Memphis Commercial Appeal reporter Jennifer Pignolet tells the story of Shelby County students working hard to make it to college — and to succeed once they arrive. And their challenges aren’t just financial: for some, like Darrius Isom of South Memphis, having reliable transportation to get to class on time is a game changer. And what are some of the in-school and extracurricular programs that students say are making a difference? Pignolet also looks at the the Tennessee Promise program, which provides free community college classes to qualified students, and assigns a mentor to help guide them. 

THANKSGIVING BONUS: EWA journalist members share some of the things they’re grateful for this year. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Texas Education Board Rejects ‘Racist’ Textbook

After months of controversy surrounding a proposed Mexican-American studies textbook that critics called racist and inaccurate, the Texas State Board of Education voted this week to reject its adoption. 

The board rejected the textbook on Wednesday 14-0, with one board member absent. A final vote will take place today, but even if the board votes “no” again, the text could still show up in Texas public school classrooms — just not on the board-approved list of instructional materials.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Will Education Fare Under President Trump?

The long, strange election cycle came to an end Tuesday with the election of Donald Trump as the next president. And while his campaign platform was scarce on education policy details, there’s no question his administration will have a significant impact, from early childhood to K-12 and higher education.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latino Students, Charter Schools and the Massachusetts Ballot Question

This Election Day, Massachusetts voters will decide whether to lift the cap on the number of charter schools in the state — a hotly contested ballot measure that’s drawn more than $34 million in fundraising among the two sides and garnered national attention, with parents of students of color and advocates for minority students on both sides of the issue.

Report

Changes in Income-Based Gaps in Parent Activities with Young Children from 1988-2012
American Educational Research Association

Numerous studies show large differences between economically advantaged and disadvantaged parents in the quality and quantity of their engagement in young children’s development. This “parenting gap” may account for a substantial portion of the gap in children’s early cognitive skills. However, researchers know little about whether the socioeconomic gap in parenting has increased over time. The present study investigates this question, focusing on income- (and education) based gaps in parents’ engagement in cognitively stimulating activities with preschool-aged children.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

A Push for More Latino College Graduates in Texas, but Not by ‘Business as Usual’

Latino children will “pretty much determine the fate of Texas” during the 21st century, the state’s Higher Education Commissioner Raymund Paredes said in his annual address this week.

That’s why the state will need to get more creative in educating Latinos and ensuring they graduate from college. “Doing business as usual,” won’t work, he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman

Key Coverage

In One Corner of the Law, Minorities and Women Are Often Valued Less

The 4-year-old boy was mentally disabled, unable to speak in complete sentences and unable to play with other children because of his violent fits of hitting and biting.

The decision facing one Brooklyn jury last year was how much a landlord should pay in damages to the boy — named “G.M.M.” in court documents — after an investigation showed he had been living in an apartment illegally coated with lead paint. To determine that, the jury would have to decide how much more the boy would have earned over his lifetime without the injury.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Will Californians Vote to Overturn Ban on Bilingual Education?

The fate of the U.S. presidency isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance on Election Day 2016.

Come Nov. 8, dual-language education could either get strengthened or further suppressed in the state with the highest percentage of English-language learners, as voters in California face a decision about overturning the state’s longstanding ban on a bilingual approach to educating these students.

Key Coverage

From the Reservation to College

President Obama wants more American Indian students to graduate from college. But look at the challenges these high schoolers face, and it becomes clear why that is a tall order.

Read more from an occasional series of articles on the transition to college for students at Browning High School on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana.

Key Coverage

Higher Ground: KIPP Strives To Lift New Orleans Grads Past Their Struggles

Eleven years ago, as Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters receded, experts promised to transform the city by upending its schools, fixing poverty and crime by and through degrees. …

Far more students graduate from New Orleans public high schools now: 75 percent, up from 54 percent before the storm …

But the real test is what happens after high school. The new New Orleans won’t materialize if beaming teenagers walk off the graduation dais as if it were a gangplank.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Programs Providing ‘Excelencia’ in Latino Education

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Excelencia in Education has released its annual list of college programs and community groups that are effectively supporting the educational advancement of Latino students in higher education, or “Examples of ¡Excelencia!“ 

Here’s a look at this year’s honorees.

Pathway to the Baccalaureate Program, Northern Virginia Community College

Key Coverage

Held Back: Battling For The Fate Of A School District

The Detroit public-school system was contending with an operating debt of more than $500 million, and the Citizens Research Council of Michigan had estimated that the total debt topped $3.5 billion. For years, money intended for students has instead been paying off old loans, and academic achievement has consistently ranked among the worst in American cities.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

In Texas, Latinos Run the Largest City School Districts

Source: Flickr/ via Tim Patterson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The school districts in Texas’ eight largest cities all have Latino superintendents at the helm, as do half of the top 20, Dallas-based KERA News reported Tuesday. The story comes after the recent hire of Richard A. Carranza as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District, the largest in the state and seventh largest in the country. 

Key Coverage

Why Appalachian Colleges Are Recruiting Hispanics

More of the teenagers graduating from high schools in Appalachia look like Janeth Barrera Cantu, and fewer look like the middle- and upper-class whites from which local colleges and universities have historically drawn their enrollments. So Lenoir-Rhyne and other schools in the region have started trying to recruit Hispanics, who—like Barrera Cantu—increasingly want college educations.

EWA Radio

Bright Lights, Big City: Covering NYC’s Schools
EWA Radio: Episode 89

(Unsplash/Pedro Lastra)

Today’s assignment: Reporting on the nation’s largest school district, with 1.1 million students and an operating budget of $25 billion. Patrick Wall of Chalkbeat New York has dug deep into the city’s special education programs, investigated whether school choice programs are contributing to student segregation rather than reducing it, and penned a three-part series on on one high school’s effort to reinvent itself. He talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about his work, and offers tips for making the most of student interviews, getting access to campuses, and balancing bigger investigations with daily coverage. A first-prize winner for beat reporting in this year’s EWA Awards, Wall is spending the current academic year at Columbia University’s School of Journalism as a Spencer Fellow.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Crossing Borders Means Repeated Grades, Denied Enrollment for Some Mexican-American Students

Source: Bigstock

There are hundreds of thousands of students who cross borders to attend schools in both the U.S. and Mexico during their elementary, middle and high school years, but poor communication between the two nations often results in significant obstacles for their academic advancement, researchers said at a binational symposium in Mexico this week.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Crossing International Borders for a Better Education

Public Domain

Crossing an international border can be a hassle. But some parents in Mexico do it every day in pursuit of a better education for their children. 

San Antonio-based KENS 5 recently aired a story of a father who walks his two young children across the Mexico-Texas border daily so they can attend school in the U.S. The trek is worth it, he says.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Growing Segregation of Latinos in Public Schools Poses Challenge for Academic Success

Source: Leland Francisco/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

More than six decades since the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision declared that segregated schools are “inherently unequal,” Latino students from low-income backgrounds are becoming increasingly isolated in public schools across the country.

The most-segregated schools Latinos attend often have fewer resources, including less access to Advanced Placement courses and Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) programs, compared with schools with high populations of affluent and white students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

Back-to-School: You Need Stories, We’ve Got Ideas

The boys (and girls) are back in town. For class, that is.

See how forced that lede was? Back-to-school reporting can take on a similar tinge of predictability, with journalists wondering how an occasion as locked in as the changing of the seasons can be written about with the freshness of spring.

Recently some of the beat’s heavy hitters dished with EWA’s Emily Richmond about ways newsrooms can take advantage of the first week of school to tell important stories and cover overlooked issues.

Key Coverage

The Most Economically Segregated School Districts

The most economically segregated school districts in the country have childhood poverty rates that differ from neighboring school districts by more than 40 percentage points, highlighting the stark contrast among K-12 schools located just miles apart from each other.

The finding, included in an analysis released Tuesday from EdBuild, a nonprofit focused on education funding inequality, is just the latest in mounting pile of research focused onschool funding inequality.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Where Are the Latino Teachers?

Source: Flickr/ Mundial Perspectives (CC BY 2.0)

When Edgar Ríos was one of 126 students in the first class of a new charter school in Chicago in 1999, almost all of his teachers were white.

They were good teachers, he says. His favorite, though, was a teacher “who could speak Spanish with my mother and father, so I didn’t have to translate.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Latinos, Standardized Tests and the Opt-Out Movement

Karen Falla of Univisión Dallas, left, moderated a discussion on standardized testing and the opt-out movement with panelists Peggy McLeod of National Council of La Raza, José Palma of the University of Minnesota, and Ruth Rodriguez of United Opt Out National (not pictured). Source: Leticia Espinosa/ Hoy

While the number of parents who opt out of having their kids take their states’ standardized tests has grown nationally, much of this movement appears to be made up of white, wealthier families. Latinos and other minorities seem to be less inclined to avoid standardized testing.

That should not be the case, said Ruth Rodriguez, an administrator with United Opt Out National.

EWA Radio

Revisiting “Savage Inequalities” of School Funding
EWA Radio: Episode 85

HarperPerennial

For more than two decades, “Savage Inequalities” — a close look at school funding disparities nationwide — has been required reading at many colleges and universities. And with a growing number of states facing legal challenges to how they fund their local schools, author Jonathan Kozol’s work has fresh relevance. Education journalists Lauren Camera (US News & World Report) and Christine Sampson (East Hampton Star) talk with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about how Kozol’s book has influenced their own reporting.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Dual-Language Programs on the Rise Across the U.S.

Graduates in white and purple robes exited the auditorium, their newly turned tassels bouncing as they sang and danced to a recording of the popular Latin salsa tune, “Vivir Mi Vida.”

They had just graduated from the Margarita Muñiz Academy in Boston — many with more than a high school diploma. Forty-six of the 51 new alumni of the dual-language school had also earned a Seal of Biliteracy, an official recognition of their academic proficiency in both English and Spanish.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

D.C.-Area Latino Youth Programs Get Financial Boost

Source: Flickr via ||read|| (CC BY 2.0)

A community program working to reduce violence through soccer and an after-school robotics class serving Latino youth in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan region have each received up to $50,000 in grants to aid their efforts from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Reporter Armando Trull provides insight into these two programs in a story for WAMU. 

Key Coverage

The Question of Tech Equity

The red-brick building of Ashburn Community Elementary School sits on a quiet street of bungalows, two blocks from the commuter rail line that cuts through the city’s Far Southwest Side.

The principal, Jewel Diaz, is a veteran who’s led Ashburn since 2003, the year after it opened. Nearly all of her students are low-income children of color, and a survey the school conducted last year showed that dozens of them don’t have internet access at home. To make up for this, Diaz has tried to compensate at school.

Multimedia

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Low-income and minority students are less likely to have experienced, high-quality teachers, research shows. What steps can school districts and educators put in place to improve these statistics? Panelists share some strategies.

  • James Cole, U.S. Department of Education
  • Sonja Santelises, Education Trust
  • Dyan Smiley, American Federation of Teachers
  • Jeffrey Solochek, Tampa Bay Times (moderator)
Multimedia

Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Getting in Deep: Immersing Yourself in a Difficult Education Story

Award-winning Boston Globe journalist Meghan Irons shares lessons from her reporting on two complex stories about students and race: one on equity and campus climate at Boston Latin, the nation’s oldest public school; and another that looked closely at school desegregation 40 years after the tumultuous debut of court-ordered busing in Boston.

  • Meghan Irons, The Boston Globe
  • Denise Amos, The Florida Times-Union (moderator)
Report

No More Free Lunch for Education Policymakers and Researchers
Brookings Institution

The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), like No Child Left Behind before it, requires states to report information on the academic achievement of students in each of their schools, both overall and for various subgroups of students. A subgroup of particular interest to policymakers and researchers is economically disadvantaged students, who, on average, score much lower on standardized tests than their higher-income peers.

Report

Drop Out, Push Out, & School-to-Prison Pipeline
GLSEN

Educational Exclusion: Drop Out, Push Out, and the School-to-Prison Pipeline among LGBTQ Youth provides an in-depth look at the conditions that effectively push LGBTQ youth out of school and potentially into the criminal justice system. The report provides specific, real world guidance to address the hostile school climates and damaging policies and practices that contribute to pushing LGBTQ youth out of their schools.

Read the report.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Education With Cultural Sensitivity

(Bigstock)

Most education journalists probably remember last year’s viral video depicting members of the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity singing a racist chant.

“I thought it was a really isolated, terrible incident,” recalled Kimberly Hefling, then an education reporter for The Associated Press. But her colleague, Jesse Holland, didn’t see it as a major news event at all.

Key Coverage

Scholar: After Fisher, Schools Should Reassess Diversity Policies

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled to uphold the use of race in college admissions, colleges and universities should assess their policies in a way that takes a more nuanced look at diversity, a higher education scholar said Tuesday.

Liliana M. Garces, assistant professor of higher education at Pennsylvania State University, said the court’s majority opinion in the case — known as Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — “reflects a robust understanding of diversity.”

Multimedia

Interviewing DREAMers
Video Resources from the 69th EWA National Seminar

Interviewing DREAMers

Undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children are often known as “DREAMers,” for the failed Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. In the face of instability, many DREAMers have turned to advocacy. DREAMers share their immigration stories and discuss the media’s approach to reporting on the undocumented.

EWA Radio

Students of Color Are the New Majority: Can Teachers, Schools Keep Up?
EWA Radio: Episode 76

Flickr/K.W. Barrett

For the first time in the nation’s history, students of color outnumber their white peers in public school classrooms. In a new 12-part series for Slate, The Teacher Project at Columbia University explores what that means for students, teachers, schools, and broader communities stretching from Boston to Hawaii.

Sarah Carr, editor of The Teacher Project, talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about why terminology matters when reporting on school diversity, the challenge of preparing a largely white, female teacher workforce for working with diverse student populations, and how de facto school segregation continues to influence opportunities and outcomes for kids of color.

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

What the Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action Could Mean for College Admissions

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the Fisher v. University of Texas case challenging the state university system's admissions policies. (Flickr/David)

The issue of race and diversity in college admissions once again is front and center, as the U.S. Supreme Court will rule soon on the high-profile affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas.

Panelists during a discussion at the Education Writers Association’s national conference in May offered mixed predictions about how the court will rule on whether the use of race in admissions is constitutional and how far the effects of the ruling could reach.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

NYC Schools Initiative Aims to Improve Student Diversity

Source: Flickr/ via Mikel Ortega (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Schools in New York City are being asked to consider voluntary diversity plans in an effort to combat widespread segregation in the city’s schools. 

According to its online call for proposals under the Diversity in Admissions Initiative, the city’s education department ”seeks to empower schools to strengthen diversity among their students through targeted efforts to change their admissions process.” 

EWA Radio

Are ‘No Second Chances’ Discipline Policies Hurting Florida’s Students?
EWA Radio: Episode 74

Infinity Moreland, now a senior at North Port High School, was expelled in the fall of 2014 for a fight she did not start. (Sarasota Herald-Tribune/Rachel S. O'Hara used with permission)

Education journalist Shelby Webb of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune spent six months digging into student suspensions and expulsions in Florida, and her findings took the local school board by surprise: Sarasota County has the second-highest rate of expulsions in the Sunshine State. But the district’s process for expulsions was certainly built for volume: as many as 14 students have been expelled with a single “yes” vote by school board members, some of whom haven’t even read the background on the individual students’ cases. The Herald-Tribune’s project also examines questions of equity of school discipline policies across Florida where — echoing a nationwide trend — many students of color face more severe punishments than their white peers.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Getting High-Quality Teachers to Disadvantaged Students

Teacher Lisa Jones leads a lesson at Watkins Elementary School in Washington D.C. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Education)

How do you get the best teachers in front of the students who need them the most? It’s an issue getting increased attention, but a tough problem to solve.

An Obama administration official said he’s encouraged by state plans developed to “ensure equitable access to excellent educators,” as required in 2014 by the U.S. Department of Education.

EWA Radio

Palo Alto’s Student Suicides
EWA Radio: Episode 73

(Pixabay/kaleido-dp)

What’s behind a cluster of student suicides in the heart of ultra-competitive Silicon Valley?

In a cover story for The Atlantic, journalist Hanna Rosin investigated a disturbing cycle stretching back more than a decade for Palo Alto and Gunn high schools. She spoke with EWA public editor Emily Richmond: How are local educators, parents, and students are responding to the crisis? What’s next for the investigation by federal health officials? And how can reporters improve their own coverage of these kinds of challenging issues? Rosin’s story, “The Silicon Valley Suicides” won 1st Prize for magazine feature writing in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Student Protests Spread in Oregon After Latest ‘Build a Wall’ Clash

This election season, it has become common to read about candidates’ anti-immigrant rhetoric trickling down into schools and, in many cases, being used to insult Latino students. Over the past several days, the polarizing phrase “build a wall” — presumed to be inspired by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s immigration plan to curb illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border — has been making headlines in Oregon, as it has inspired hundreds of studen

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Proposed Mexican-American Studies Textbook in Texas Called Racist, Inaccurate

This image appears on the cover of a newly proposed textbook for Mexican-American studies in Texas. The image itself is controversial, and the text in the book has ignited cries of racism and factual inaccuracies. Source: Flickr/ via Jorge Gonzalez (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Texas advocates of ethnic studies in public schools celebrated two years ago when the State Board of Education voted to create instructional materials for classes like Mexican-American and African-American studies that school districts could choose to offer as electives in the state. The decision wasn’t exactly what proponents of Mexican-American studies had asked for — to establish a statewide curriculum — but it was something. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why Do Massachusetts Public Schools Lead the Nation?

Massachusetts, a strong performer on both national and international educational rankings, is home to Boston Latin, the nation's oldest public school. (Wikimedia Commons/Daderot)

When it comes to the story of Massachusetts’ public schools, the takeaway, according to the state’s former education secretary, Paul Reville, is that “doing well isn’t good enough.”

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond ‘Free Lunch’: Mining School Data on Poverty

Reporters can find a wealth of story ideas on schools and poverty that are deeper than just statistics on how many students sign up for free and reduced-price meals. (Flickr/U.S. Department of Agriculture)

For education journalists, writing about poverty poses many challenges. But one of the most overlooked is that it’s often difficult to know much about the socioeconomic background of students in a given school. Reporters often rely on two things: anecdotal evidence and the percentage of students who receive a free or reduced-price lunch.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A New 2016 “Common Core,” With Social-and-Emotional Muscle

By BMRR (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

At the age of nine, Amalio Nieves saw his father die from gun violence in Chicago. And as a child, Nieves himself was robbed at gunpoint. Now he’s always thinking about his young niece Jordan and the year 2100 – when Jordan will be the parent of a child that leads America into a new, unknown century.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Missing Class: Using Data to Track Chronic Absenteeism

Fickr/dcJohn (CC BY 2.0)

For every savant who’s skilled enough to ditch class and still ace the course, many more who miss school fall way behind, increasing their odds of dropping out or performing poorly.

The implications are major: If a school has a high number of students repeatedly absent, there’s a good chance other troubles are afoot. Feeling uninspired in the classroom, poor family outreach, or struggles at students’ homes are just some of the root causes of absenteeism, experts say.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education Secretary John King Talks Integration, Diversity at EWA National Seminar

Greg Toppo of USA Today, left, facilitates a keynote by U.S. Secretary of Education John King at EWA's 69th National Seminar Monday, May 2. (Photo by Katherine Taylor for EWA)

Racial diversity and the socioeconomic integration of schools can be powerful tools to help improve educational opportunities for students, but much depends on whether states and local communities prioritize them, Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. stressed in remarks here on Monday.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Angela Duckworth: Raising Test Scores Is Not a Sign of Grit

In the dozen years that Angela Duckworth has researched the concept of grit, she’s found new ways to test its validity, identified examples of it in popular culture, and worked to bust myths about its application in schools. But she hasn’t developed a just-add-water curriculum package that interested schools can use to develop the character trait in their students.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Behind the Pulitzer Prize-Winning Failure Factories Series

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Cara Fitzpatrick was in labor when her husband – and colleague at the Tampa Bay Times – asked her “So what can you tell me about segregation in Pinellas County?”

The paper had just decided to do a large-scale investigation into the district’s schools that were serving predominately low-income, black students. Two years later, Fitzpatrick’s son is walking and talking and she and the rest of the team have earned a Pulitzer Prize for their series Failure Factories.  

Key Coverage

Money, Race and Success: How Your School District Compares

We’ve long known of the persistent and troublesome academic gap between white students and their black and Hispanic peers in public schools.

We’ve long understood the primary reason, too: A higher proportion of black and Hispanic children come from poor families. A new analysis of reading and math test score data from across the country confirms just how much socioeconomic conditions matter.

Children in the school districts with the highest concentrations of poverty score an average of more than four grade levels below children in the richest districts.

EWA Radio

Inside Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer Prize-Winning ‘Failure Factories’
EWA Radio: Episode 70

Kindergartner Tyree Parker sits at the front doors of Maximo Elementary as he waits for school to open. (Tampa Bay Times/Dirk Shadd)

Update: On May 2, “Failure Factories” won the $10,000 Hechinger Grand Prize in the EWA National Awards for Education Reporting.

The Pulitzer Prize for local reporting this year went to the Tampa Bay Times for an exhaustive investigation into how a handful of elementary schools in Pinellas County wound up deeply segregated by race, poverty, and opportunity.