District Management

Member Stories

April 14 – April 20
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Marta Jewson writes for The Lens on the reasons behind one elementary school’s closure, as a group strives to convert New Orleans’ last five traditional public schools to charters.

 
 

Julie Chang and Dan Hill of the Austin American-Statesman examine the political divide among Texas Republicans on the issue of school choice in rural areas.


 

Latest News

Dallas Dance Resigns as Baltimore County Schools Superintendent

Baltimore County School Superintendent Dallas Dance announced his resignation abruptly Tuesday morning, surprising teachers, parents and county leaders. His last day will be June 30.

He gave no reason for the resignation, and a spokesman said he is not leaving for a specific job.

“I have received several offers, but I have not firmly decided. I look forward to sharing in the upcoming weeks what I will be doing,” Dance said Tuesday afternoon.

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.


 

Latest News

Why Charter Operators Exiting Tennessee’s Turnaround District Can Walk Away

When two charter school operators announced plans to leave Tennessee’s turnaround district this spring, many people were surprised that they could break their 10-year agreements. Across the nation, there’s nothing to stop charter operators from leaving, even when they promise to be there for a long time. And by design, that’s not unusual in the charter sector. For better or worse, operators are given that autonomy.

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.”


 

Latest News

Why District Layoffs Hit Poor Schools the Hardest

This week San Diego Unified sent out layoff notices to roughly 1,500 employees, and it’s all but certain those layoffs are going to hurt the poorest schools worst.

Neither San Diego Unified nor the San Diego Educators Association, the local teachers union, would send me a list showing which schools have the most teachers facing layoffs. (San Diego Unified’s spokeswoman said they wouldn’t provide it. Teachers union president Lindsay Burningham didn’t respond.)

Latest News

How Districts Are Joining the Fight to Close a Troubling Training Gap Among America’s School Leaders

In the months after 9/11, news exploded about patriotic Americans who rushed to join the armed forces to serve their country.

But that fateful day in 2001 inspired other kinds of patriots as well, civilians who decided to serve the country in less obvious ways.

Christina Grant, for instance, then a recent college graduate, left her cushy, high-paying job at a New York City law firm to become a teacher.

“I had this huge crisis of conscience,” she said. “I realized I couldn’t spend my life just making rich people richer.”

Member Stories

March 2 – 9
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business reports on how Michigan State Superintendent of Schools Brian Whiston offered an 18-month reprieve to 25 persistently low-performing schools in Detroit facing closure if academics do not improve.


 

As standardized tests in Ohio are ready to begin, Shannon Gilchrist of The Columbus Dispatch looks at whether third-graders are too young to have developed the computer skills to take a timed test.

EWA Radio

Alternative Schools: Are Districts ‘Gaming’ the System?
EWA Radio: Episode 112

Heather Vogell of ProPublica discusses a new investigation into how districts utilize their alternative schools — campuses set up to handle struggling and troubled students. ProPublica concluded that by reassigning students unlikely to graduate out of mainstream classrooms, some traditional high schools were “hiding” their true dropout numbers, and boosting their own ratings within their state’s accountability system.

Latest News

De Blasio’s Questionable School Consultants Cost Taxpayers Millions

A retired principal who lied to corruption investigators, the co-author of a book written by Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña and a nonprofit headed by an insurance fraudster are among those riding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s School Renewal Program gravy train, The Post has learned.

Two key elements of Hizzoner’s costly improvement initiative — which critics have called a failure — are the hiring of “leadership coaches” to boost principals’ performance and the contracting of nonprofits to supply students with social services and after-school programs.

Member Stories

February 23 – March 2
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

Brian McVicar of Michigan Live spoke with parents facing some unsettling questions. For instance, if their children’s schools are closed because of poor academic performance, where would the kids go to get a better education? And, just as important, how would they get there?


 

Latest News

Pastors, Savvy Connections and Chicago Schools: How One Private Company Raked In $50 Million

This is a story about how a savvy company came to Chicago and raked in more than $50 million in contracts from the school system in just four years, becoming one of the district’s biggest vendors.

Camelot Education runs six small schools that re-enroll high school dropouts or students who have been expelled. It’s a service the city needs, the school district insists, and by most accounts Camelot runs solid programs that are making a difference for some troubled teens. 

EWA Radio

Invisible Hazard: Traffic, Air Quality, and the Risks for Students
EWA Radio: Episode 110

Jamie Hopkins of The Center for Public Integrity discusses her new investigation (produced in partnership with Reveal) into how proximity to busy roadways is impacting the air quality at thousands of public schools. How close is “too close” for campuses? Why are students of color and those from low-income families more likely to be at risk? Where are parents and health advocates gaining ground in addressing air quality concerns near schools? And how can local reporters use CPI’s online databases to inform their coverage of these issues?

Latest News

St. James Parish Schools Nearing End Of Long-Time Desegregation Case

The U.S. Justice Department reached an agreement Monday with the St. James Parish public school district on a plan of action that, when complete, will end court supervision of the district’s schools.

The consent order, approved by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, addresses all remaining issues in the district’s school desegregation case and, when implemented, will lead to the closing of the decades-long case, the Justice Department said in a news release.

Latest News

How Jeff Sessions Helped Kill Equitable School Funding in Alabama

A lawsuit in the 1990’s had Alabama poised to fund poor black school districts as fairly as wealthy white schools. As state attorney general, Jeff Sessions fought the effort passionately. He never spent a legal sentence arguing that Alabama’s educational system was equitable, that it didn’t clearly favor white and wealthier children while short-changing others. He simply argued the courts had no rightful place saying or doing anything about it.

Latest News

We Live Here: A Neighborhood School On the Brink of Closure

Over the last 15 years, cities across the country have faced wave after wave of school closures. Places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia closed down dozens of buildings at a time. 

But the district that closed the most schools during that time was Detroit Public Schools. 

Since 2000, the city has seen nearly 200 school buildings shuttered. 

So, what happens to a neighborhood — and the kids who live there — when a school closes? 

Latest News

Deadly Chattanooga Crash Prompts Kansas Proposal for School Bus Seat Belts

Kansas lawmakers could debate and vote this year on becoming the seventh state to require seat belts on school buses. A bill introduced by Clay Center Republican Rep. Susie Swanson would require all school buses purchased after Jan. 1, 2018, to have lap-shoulder seat belts. Such belts cross from the shoulder to the waist, as well as extending over the lap.

Latest News

Dozens Of Struggling Schools In Detroit Are Set To Close — But Nearby Options For Their Students Aren’t Much Better

Michigan education officials’ aggressive school closure plan faces a major challenge: It’s unlikely that most students displaced by closures will end up in substantially better schools.

That’s because there are few schools in struggling cities like Detroit that have test scores significantly higher than the schools facing closure.

In Detroit, where 25 schools serving roughly 12,000 kids are on the chopping block, there are only 19 schools with scores above the bottom quarter, many of which are full to capacity.

EWA Radio

“Rewarding Failure”: Education Week Investigates Cyber Charters
EWA Radio: Episode 107

Reporter Arianna Prothero discusses Education Week’s eight-month investigation of online charter schools,  including how some companies aggressively lobby states to craft regulations that allow them to flourish despite spotty records on student achievement. Why do some students opt for this kind of alternative publicly funded education? What do we know about attendance, academic achievement, and school quality in cyber charters? Who are the big players in the cyber charter industry, and how much is known about their policies, practices, and profits?

Prothero answers these and other questions and shares story ideas for local reporters covering online charter schools in their own communities.

Member Stories

January 6 – January 12

More districts and states are enacting rules to monitor school water safety. “The action is an acknowledgment that the largely voluntary testing system present in most of the country isn’t sufficient,” writes Stacy Teicher Khadaroo for The Christian Science Monitor.

Eric Kelderman of The Chronicle of Higher Education with an important insight into the likely education secretary under Trump: “Ms. DeVos shows her belief in developing civil society through the contributions of individual citizens rather than government.”

Member Stories

December 22-29
Here's what we're reading by EWA members this week

What will education in California look like under President Trump? Nan Austin of The Modesto Bee offers her take, noting the ”stability built in by state law and sheer size.”

 

In this story on tall tales during exam week, one Indiana University professor tells Michael Reschke of The Herald-Times that this ”can be an especially dangerous time of year for grandmothers, grandfathers and pets,” who all seem to fall suddenly ill.

 

Member Stories

December 8-15
Some of our favorite stories by EWA members this week

Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel investigates how Orange County school board members spent $500,000 of taxpayer money over the last two years. “One board member paid $2,500 for a school mural that depicts herself,” she writes.

 

Starting in January, Portland Community College will teach a specially designed curriculum for nursing students left stranded by the closure of the for-profit ITT Technical Institute earlier this year, Andrew Theen reports for The Oregonian.

Member Stories

December 2 – December 8
Here's what we're reading by EWA members

Boys are less likely than girls to take advantage of college-prep services in California. Larry Gordon of EdSource reports on the how and why.

The school district in Ohio’s capital created a counseling response team to aid students at campuses beset by tragedy. A team of roughly 20 personnel responded to 17 incidents last year, write Bill Bush and Shannon Gilchrist for The Columbus Dispatch.

EWA Radio

Wanted: More Women Superintendents in Texas (and Beyond)
EWA Radio: Episode 96

Shelby Webb of The Houston Chronicle discusses her reporting on the gender disparity among superintendents in Texas. She and EWA public editor Emily Richmond also explore some of the reasons behind this statewide — and national — trend, its impact on learning, and what some experts say would help make school and district leadership jobs more appealing to female educators. 

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. 

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: The Educated Reporter

Where Students Miss the Most Class, and Why That’s a Problem

By woodleywonderworks [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

The precocious teen who’s too cool for school – earning high marks despite skipping class – is a pop-culture standard, the idealized version of an effortless youth for whom success comes easy.

Too bad it’s largely a work of fiction that belies a much harsher reality: Missing just two days a month of school for any reason exposes kids to a cascade of academic setbacks, from lower reading and math scores in the third grade to higher risks of dropping out of high school, research suggests.

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.

EWA Radio

‘Glen’s Village’: From Childhood Trauma to the Ivy League
EWA Radio: Episode 82

Glen Casey, a young man who escaped the drugs and violence of his West Philadelphia neighborhood, looks on as his school is demolished. (Philadelphia Public School Notebook/"Glen's Village")

Veteran education writer Paul Jablow and multimedia journalist Dorian Geiger discuss their documentary of a young man who escaped the drugs and violence of his West Philadelphia neighborhood thanks to the intensive interventions of a network of support, including his mother, teachers, and social workers. Glen Casey is now a successful student at the University of Pennsylvania and plans on a teaching career. But how unusual is his story, particularly in a public school system of ever-dwindling resources?

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)
EWA Radio

When Schools Become Crisis Centers
EWA Radio: Episode 75

Flickr/Will Foster

As Casey McDermott reports for New Hampshire Public Radio, teachers in the Granite State are increasingly functioning as de facto case managers for vulnerable students. She talks with EWA public editor Emily Richmond about the issues facing youth and their families, ranging from homelessness to food insecurity to substance abuse. The focus on vulnerable students is part of NHPR’s new “State of Democracy” project, examining the real-world implications of policy decisions.

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.” 

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

When States Take Over Schools

Students at Roose Elementary School in Detroit in March 2016. (Flickr/A Healthier Michigan). The Motor City is just one example of where a state has intervened to assume oversight of a struggling public education system.

Most reporters dread seeing the next school board meeting on the calendar. But as more states take over failing schools, removing them from local control, some journalists are finding open and easily accessible meetings harder to come by, and recognizing the value of what they’ve lost.

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

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.  

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.

EWA Radio

Iowa Is First: The Presidential Candidates – and Their Education Plans
EWA Radio: Episode 57

(Flickr/Phil Roeder)

Iowa prides itself on holding the first caucuses of the presidential election year. EWA public editor Emily Richmond talks with statewide education reporter Mackenzie Ryan of the Des Moines Register about what it’s like to be at the epicenter of the presidential race insanity, her coverage of Republican hopeful Marco Rubio, and the big concerns for Iowa voters when it comes to public schools. 

Key Coverage

Growth Mindset Means More Than Just Praising Kids for Trying

The approach has been misinterpreted by some to mean simply praising effort.

But that’s misunderstanding the thinking behind a growth mindset, Dweck said. Telling students, “Keep trying; you can do it,” doesn’t work, she said. Teachers instead should ask students these questions: “What strategies have you tried? What will you try next?” “It’s not just effort,” Dweck said. “You need strategies.”

Key Coverage

A Special Report on Student-Data Privacy

Intelligent and creative use of data in K-12 education is a driving force behind efforts to use digital curricula and assessments to personalize learning. Data use can be the difference maker in understanding individual students’ strengths and weaknesses. But the expanded, more sophisticated use of data has opened the doors wider for potential problems, especially regarding the privacy of student information.

Key Coverage

More State Takeovers Of Public Schools Possible

The recent takeover of the Little Rock School District by the Arkansas State Board of Education has angered parents and surprised even seasoned school reform observers. The move dissolved the local school board — one ousted board member, Jim Ross, called it a “coup” — and parents took to social media to decry the action.

Key Coverage

Teaching Kids: Henry County School Lets Students Set Own Pace

The school’s computer-based approach could be replicated across the state if education reformers appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal get their way. There’s no conclusive evidence that it works better than traditional methods, but there is a growing group of proponents in other states. Many wonder whether it will prove too expensive, widening the gap between schools that can and cannot afford it, but advocates say it doesn’t have to be costly.

Key Coverage

How Washington Created Some of the Worst Schools in America

Flash forward 46 more years. The network of schools for Native American children run by an obscure agency of the Interior Department remains arguably the worst school system in the United States, a disgrace the government has known about for eight decades and never successfully reformed. Earlier this fall, POLITICO asked President Obama’s secretary of education, Arne Duncan, about perhaps the federal government’s longest-running problem: “It’s just the epitome of broken,” he said. “Just utterly bankrupt.” The epitome of broken looks like Crystal Boarding School.

Report

High School Closures in New York City

In the first decade of the 21st century, the NYC Department of Education implemented a set of large-scale and much debated high school reforms, which included closing large, low-performing schools, opening new small schools and extending high school choice to students throughout the district. The school closure process was the most controversial of these efforts. Yet, apart from the general sense that school closures are painful, there has never been a rigorous assessment of their impact in NYC.

Report

State Capacity to Support School Turnaround
Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance

More than 80 percent of states made turning around low-performing schools a high priority, but at least 50 percent found it very difficult to turn around low-performing schools. 38 states (76 percent) reported significant gaps in expertise for supporting school turnaround in 2012, and that number increased to 40 (80 percent) in 2013.

EWA Radio

Beyond Test Scores: “Mission High” Redefines Student Success
EWA Radio: Episode 46

(Nation Books)

What does it really take to help students succeed at school and life, and how much of those gains can really be measured by test scores?

Those are some of the questions journalist Kristina Rizga set out to answer in her reporting on a San Francisco high school, first published by Mother Jones magazine. Her investigation turned into a four-year project and the new book “Mission High: One School, How Experts Tried to Fail It, and the Students and Teachers Who Made It Triumph.”

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Seattle Schools Ban Elementary Suspensions

Journalist Claudia Rowe, middle, speaks about discipline policies in Seattle schools during a panel discussion at the 2015 EWA National Seminar. (Source: Lloyd Degrane for EWA)

Discipline practices thought to disproportionately affect students of color have been at the center of debates across the country. And with a growing body of research showing the negative long-term effects of zero-discipline policies, especially on minority youth, many school districts have moved to abandon them. 

EWA Radio

Summer Reading List: “The Prize”
EWA Radio: Episode 38

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

In 2010, billionaire Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced an unprecedented gift: he would donate $100 million to the public school district of Newark, New Jersey (dollars that would eventually be matched by private partners).

Dale Russakoff, a longtime reporter for The Washington Post, spent more than three years reporting on what turned into a massive experiment in top-down educational interventions—with decidedly mixed results. 

Seminar

69th EWA National Seminar

The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is thrilled to announce that its annual conference will take place from Sunday, May 1, through Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in the historic city of Boston.

Co-hosted by Boston University’s College of Communication and School of Education, EWA’s 69th National Seminar will examine a wide array of timely topics in education — from early childhood through career — while expanding and sharpening participants’ skills in reporting and storytelling.

Boston, Massachusetts
Blog: The Educated Reporter

The Secret to Great School Budget Stories? Dig, Dig, Dig

A Dallas Independent School District's Citizen Budget Review Commission meeting in 2011. Dallas Morning News reporter Tawnell Hobbs found rampant misspending in an investigation of the district's finances that covered four years of financial records.  (Flickr/Todd Overman for DISD)

News stories on school district budgets often stick to whether spending is up or down, whether employees received raises or not. So Dallas Morning News reporter Tawnell Hobbs helped attendees at the Education Writers Association National Seminar delve deeper into school spending and unlock the juiciest stories during a session in Chicago on April 20.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Reporting on Schools: Why Campus Access Matters

Hallway of Bryan Adams High School in Dallas, Texas. (Flickr/Dean Terry)

Back in December, reporter Lauren Foreman of the Bakersfield Californian sent an email titled “Banned from classrooms” to a group of education journalists.

“One of my district’s assistant supes told me today reporters aren’t allowed to observe classroom instruction, and parents aren’t even allowed to freely do that,” she wrote. Foreman wanted to know what policies were in other districts and how she ought to respond.

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Minority Students in Md. School: We’re Perceived as ‘Academically Inferior’

Latino and black students in Montgomery County, Md., told school district officials they are sometimes perceived as “academically inferior” and want change under the district’s next leader. The speech by a group of seven minority students was given at a community gathering hosted by the Montgomery County Education Forum amid the district’s search for a new superintendent. 

Blog: Latino Ed Beat

School Districts Put Emphasis on Educating Parents

Adults meet at the English Club for English Language Learners at the Rockaway Township Free Public Library in New Jersey. 
Source: Flickr/RT Library (CC BY 2.0)

School districts in Texas’ Bexar County are offering more options for parents to further their education in order to get more involved in their children’s, including after-hours classes in learning English as a second language or preparing to a GED. 

Report

It’s About Time
Learning Time and Educational Opportunity in California High Schools

IT’S ABOUT TIME draws on a statewide survey to examine how learning time is distributed across California high schools. The survey, conducted by UCLA IDEA during the 2013-2014 school year, included a representative sample of nearly 800 teachers. Survey findings highlight inequalities in the amount of time available for learning across low and high poverty High Schools.  Community stressors and chronic problems with school conditions lead to far higher levels of lost instructional time in high poverty high schools. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Education and the Election: What Happened and What It Means

Source: Flickr/Ginny (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The midterm election results have big implications for education, from Republicans’ success in retaking the U.S. Senate to new governors coming in and a slew of education ballot measures, most of which were defeated.

The widely watched race for California’s schools superintendent came down to the wire, with incumbent Tom Torlakson edging out challenger Marshall Tuck — a former charter schools administrator: 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Students Learning Lessons of Midterm Elections?

Today is a day off from school for millions of students as campuses in some districts and states — including Michigan and New York — are converted into polling stations for the midterm elections. To Peter Levine, the director of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, that’s a missed opportunity to demonstrate democracy in action.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Early Education Plans Hit Snags

Students play at an early education center in New Orleans (Source: Mikhail Zinshteyn/EWA)

Early education gets support from both sides of the aisle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce runs campaigns advocating for it. So does Hillary Clinton. And research appears conclusive that it’s important.

But as states respond to the data, a new challenge emerges: implementing early education programs successfully. Several recent stories provide different looks at how some locales are scaling up their early education offerings.

EWA Radio

Illinois Lawmakers Use Influence on Teacher Licensing
EWA Radio, Episode 10

Chicago Tribune investigation turns up instances of lawmakers intervening in teacher licensing decisions on behalf of their friends and donors. Tribune education reporter Diane Rado speaks with EWA’s Emily Richmond and Mikhail Zinshteyn about her ongoing coverage of licensing issues, and what it means for local students and schools.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Happens When States Take Over School Districts?

Dan Varner of Excellent Schools Detroit speaks at the 67th National Seminar.

State takeover districts have been lauded as the savior of children left behind by inept local school boards — and derided as anti-democratic fireworks shows that don’t address the root causes of poor education. Three panelists took an hour during EWA’s National Seminar in Nashville to get beyond the flash and noise and discuss the real challenges of state school takeovers, a process all acknowledged is disruptive.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Atlanta Cheating Scandal: New Yorker Magazine Gets Personal

The July 21 issue of The New Yorker takes us deep inside the Atlanta cheating scandal, and through the lucid reporting of Rachel Aviv, we get to know some of the teachers and school administrators implicated. We learn not only how and why they say they cheated, but also about the toxic, high-pressure environment they contend was created by Superintendent Beverly Hall’s overwhelming emphasis on improving student test scores.

Report

Lacking Leaders: The Challenges of Principal Recruitment, Selection, and Placement
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute

Thomas B. Fordham Institute

A school’s leader matters enormously to its success and that of its students and teachers. But how well are U.S. districts identifying, recruiting, selecting, and placing the best possible candidates in principals’ offices? To what extent do their practices enable them to find and hire great school leaders? To what degree is the principal’s job itself designed to attract outstanding candidates?

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Common Core a Tainted Brand?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam addresses attendees at the 67th National Seminar.

Tennessee joins a phalanx of other states in ending its relationship with one of the two Common Core-aligned assessment groups.

The state’s top three education leaders sent a letter to Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) announcing that Tennessee will be seeking a new set of tests and leaving the consortium. Education Week has more.

Report

Great Principals at Scale
Bush Center and New Leaders

School leaders are critical in the lives of students and to the development of their teachers. Unfortunately, in too many instances, principals are effective in spite of – rather than because of – district conditions. To truly improve student achievement for all students across the country, well-prepared principals need the tools, support, and culture that enable them to be the best.

Report

Preparing Principals to Raise Student Achievement: Implementation and Effects of the New Leaders Program in Ten Districts
By Susan M. Gates, Laura S. Hamilton, Paco Martorell, Susan Burkhauser, Paul Heaton, Ashley Pierson, Matthew Baird, Mirka Vuollo, Jennifer J. Li, Diana Lavery, Melody Harvey and Kun Gu

New Leaders Principals Affect Student Achievement in Their Schools

  • Students who attended schools led by New Leaders principals experienced slightly larger achievement gains on average than similar students in schools led by non–New Leaders principals.
  • The magnitudes of achievement effects varied substantially across districts. They also varied across principals.

A Variety of Factors Could Explain the Observed Relationship Between New Leaders Principals and Outcomes

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Live From Nashville: EWA’s 67th National Seminar

I’ve often made the case that there’s no reporting beat where the reporters are more collegial – or more committed to their work – than education. EWA’s 67th National Seminar, hosted by Vanderbilt University, helped to prove that point.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA Community Member Insights: Making Sure Your Voice Is Heard

EWA is at Vanderbilt University this week for our 67th National Seminar. We invited some of our community members to contribute posts from some of the sessions. Today’s guest blogger is Swati Pandey of The Broad Foundation.

When Felice Nudelman asked a group of college presidents to share their worst fears, the first was obvious: a crisis on campus. The second was a little more surprising.

Report

Building A GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic (2014)

For the first time in U.S. history the nation’s high school graduation rate rose above 80 percent, according to the 2014 Building a GradNation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic report released April 28 by Civic Enterprises, the Everyone Graduates Center, America’s Promise Alliance and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Report: Don’t Underestimate School Boards’ Impact

When it comes to the decisions that most directly affect the business of public education and what happens in classrooms, few people are as influential – and often as unacknowledged – as local school board members.

Indeed, a new report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute suggests the makeup of local school boards can have a measurable effect on student achievement.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Beyond Teachers: Who Else Is Your District Employing?

Credit: Flickr/ecastro

You may know that teachers make up roughly half of the education staff in school districts, but who are the other employees on the rolls? To provide a clearer picture, I broke down data from the U.S. Department of Education on district staffing to visualize this often-overlooked slice of the workforce.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Urban School Reform: Beyond Stars and Scandals

This week, we’re revisiting some of the top sessions from EWA’s 66th National Seminar held at Stanford University. We asked journalists who attended to contribute posts, and today’s guest blogger is Kyla Calvert of San Diego Public RadioStream any session from National Seminar in your browser, or subscribe via RSS or iTunes.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

A Troubling Time Capsule: JFK on the State of Public Education

With today marking the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s death, I thought I would share a post I wrote last year.

In his commencement speech at San Diego State College, the president of the United States covered unsurprising territory in describing the challenges facing the nation’s public schools – inequities for minority students, a high dropout rate, and the need for better teacher training.

EWA Radio

Urban School Reform: Beyond Stars and Scandals

Do reporters who cover major efforts to improve schools focus on incremental developments at the expense of the big picture? Do they pay too much attention to leaders with star power and too little to quieter contributors? The authors of two new books on urban education reflect on media coverage of efforts to revamp big-city schools. Moderator: Benjamin Herold, WHYY; Richard Colvin, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship; David Kirp, University of California, Berkeley. Recorded at EWA’s 66th National Seminar, “Creativity Counts: Innovation in Education and the Media,” May 2-4, 2013

Webinar

Giving Guidance: Counselors’ Role in College and Career Readiness
1 hour

When it comes to making sure students are college and career ready, middle and high school guidance counselors play a critical — and often underreported — role.In this EWA webinar, attendees received an advance look at the College Board Advocacy & Policy Center’s second-annual survey of guidance counselors, in which respondents outlined some of the challenges of helping students meet ever-increasing expectations, as well as identified shortfalls in their own training and professional development.In this recording, you’ll  also hear from experts in the field as to the implications

Webinar

Follow the Money: What’s Hiding In Your School District’s Spending?
56 minutes

Follow the Money: What’s Hiding In Your School District’s Spending?

So you’ve managed to get your hands on all the records your school district keeps about its budget and spending. Now what? How can you turn a giant data dump into a compelling story for your readers?

In this EWA webinar, you’ll hear how reporters at the Dallas Morning News used public records to create databases of district spending and budget information, and how they used those databases to uncover everything from fraud and mismanagement to cozy vendor-employee relationships to the misuse of federal grants.

Multimedia

Buskin Lecture: Mayor Cory Booker

Buskin Lecture: Mayor Cory Booker

The Mayor of Newark, NJ speaks at EWA’s 65th National Seminar on education inequality, innovation, and the need for tough questions in school coverage.

Multimedia

In the Trenches: Teachers’ Take on Turnarounds

In the Trenches: Teachers’ Take on Turnarounds

Anthony Cody, a longtime teacher and blogger who is now a consultant and expert on teacher leadership, and Lisa Goncalves Lavin, a first grade teacher and member of the Turnaround Teacher Team (T3) at Blackstone Elementary School in Boston, Mass., share their views of how teachers are experiencing turnaround efforts.

Multimedia

Lessons Learned: What We Know About School Turnarounds

Lessons Learned: What We Know About School Turnarounds

In this excerpt from his presentation at EWA’s March 24 conference in Chicago, Professor Daniel Duke of the University of Virginia reviews the history of recent school turnaround efforts, lessons that can be drawn from successes and setbacks, and issues and concerns that persist as the reform effort moves forward.

Multimedia

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

Charter Schools’ Role in Turnaround and Transformation

How does the charter school model factor into efforts to turn around low-achieving campuses? Why haven’t more charter management organizations signed on for school turnarounds? What questions should reporters be asking when faced with conflicting data on charter school performance?

Multimedia

Turnaround Schools: Federal Priorities and Research Findings

Turnaround Schools: Federal Priorities and Research Findings

Deputy Assistant Secretary Jason Snyder of the U.S. Department of Education provides an overview of federal reform efforts and the Obama administration’s goals for the SIG program.

Timothy Knowles, director of the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute, talks about key findings from studies of Chicago’s turnaround initiative.

Recorded at EWA’s March 24, 2012 conference on school turnarounds at the University of Chicago

Organization

The Wallace Foundation

The Wallace Foundation is a national philanthropy, based in New York City, that aims to improve the educational opportunities for disadvantaged students. The foundation has invested heavily in research and resources aimed at improving the positive effect principals can have on school and student performance. They have also put significant funding toward expanded learning, summer learning, and after-school.

Organization

The American Association of School Administrators

The American Association of School Administrators counts more than 13,000 educational leaders from across the United States and the world in its membership. These members include chief executive officers, superintendents and senior level school administrators along with cabinet members, some professors and others who manage schools and school systems. AASA was founded in 1865. Regarding NCLB, AASA has asserted that “The accountability system should be made up of measures of growth that differentiate levels of success.

Organization

The National School Boards Association

The National School Boards Association is a nonprofit organization that works with federal agencies and other national associations to influence education policy as it pertains to school boards.

The Association has been particularly vocal on issues of the quality of the academic programs some cyber charters offer, citing in a report from May 2012 a “troubling” lack of “good information about results and accountability.”

Organization

National Association of State Boards of Education

The National Association of State Boards of Education “works to strengthen state leadership in educational policymaking, promote excellence in the education of all students, advocate equality of access to educational opportunity, and assure continued citizen support for public education.” The organization is a nonprofit founded in 1958.

Organization

The Council of Chief State School Officers

The Council of Chief State School Officers is “a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions,” according to the group.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Teacher Effectiveness: How Much Should the Route to the Classroom Matter?

If a teacher is successful in the classroom, does it matter how she got there, or how long she intends to stay in the profession? Should personal qualities like perseverance and grit count just as much as completing the requisite coursework in curriculum and instruction?

Those are some of the questions being asked in the wake of a new study that reflects favorably on Teach For America’s corps members who teach mathematics in schools that have typically struggled to fill teaching vacancies.

Report

Leaders to Learn From

In the first of what will be an annual report, Education Week’s Leaders To Learn From spotlights 16 district-level leaders from across the country who seized on creative but practical approaches to improving their school systems and put those ideas to work.

Key Coverage

Too Big to Fix

EWA 2012 National Reporting Contest winner. Crumbling school buildings can impede academic achievement, but what happens when the public votes down bond measures to upgrade the infrastructure? This series of articles looks at the impasse between school boards and the voters, and cost-saving tricks to fine tune the walls of public instruction. (The Journal News)

Report

School Boards Circa 2010: Governance in the Accountability Era

This report was the first national survey of school boards in almost a decade. It compiles responses of more than 1,000 school board members and superintendents. The key findings include the discovery that the membership of school boards tends to reflect their community better than their representation in Congress or their respective state legislatures does, three-quarters of school board members have a bachelor’s degree, and more than 88 percent of board members rely on their superintendent for key decisions.

Key Coverage

Taking School Into Their Own Hands

Using the city of Rochester as an example, this article examples the advantages and disadvantages of mayoral takeovers of school districts. The article offers a quick survey of the different types of takeovers that cities nationwide have tried in recent years.

Report

Building Cohesive Systems to Improve School Leadership

This research brief examines the results of the Wallace Foundation’s efforts to build Cohesive Leadership Systems — i.e., better cooperation among school leaders at the school, district, and state levels. The researchers conducted more than 400 interviews in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oregon, and Rhode Island; and surveyed more than 600 principals. The researchers find that interagency cooperation can be effective.

Report

The Education Mayor: Improving America’s Schools

This book by Brown University professor Kenneth Wong examines mayoral control of urban school districts, starting with Boston’s in 1992 and examining more than 100 school districts in 40 states. Wong’s examination concludes that mayoral control of schools, while not appropriate for every district, can improve accountability and enable the school district to strengthen its educational infrastructure and improve student performance.