<<On the Blackboard>>
Write Like an EWA Contest Winner!
Summer is in full swing and as an education reporter you may be enjoying some down time. However, this is a good time to explore some long-range reporting projects. In this edition, the Education Reporter has collected narratives from the first-prize winners for EWA’s 2008 National Awards for Education Reporting. The winners describe how they reported on some of the most intriguing school topics and stories in the past year. Learn how reporters found their stories, the challenges they experienced and what they discovered along the way. You can read a snippet of what Brad Heath and Blake Morrison of USA Today say about their grand-prize winning story and you can go to our website to find full narratives of this year’s contest winners.
Don’t Miss Our New Podcasts
Are you currently struggling for summer story ideas as a K-12 or higher ed reporter? Or are you thinking about writing a book on schools and kids? Don’t miss these podcasts from EWA’s summer audio conference series. Listen to Baltimore Sun blogger and reporter John-John Williams IV and the Chronicle of Higher Education editor Jeff Selingo give tips on summer K-12 and college stories. You can also hear Riverhead editorial director Becky Saletan, and literary agent Brian DeFiore guide you on how to get your manuscript through the publishing ranks.
The High School Obsession
How can we understand the crisis in secondary education? It’s elementary.
By Linda Perlstein, EWA public editor
Even though I worked at the Washington Post for a decade, I didn’t spend much time inside the D.C. Public Schools, aside from volunteer gigs advising a high school newspaper and reading with elementary schoolers. I mostly covered the Maryland suburbs. So a few weeks ago, I asked a friend who works for the city schools to take me on a tour of the worst of the worst. My friend took me to a high school located in the most neglected neighborhood of a city that even in its best areas has few traditional schools of merit. All the clich�s about inner-city high schools—vulgar graffiti, stabbings, stairwell fires—have played in Technicolor in this building. But my visit wasn’t significant for what was going on. What we noticed the most was what was missing. Go here to read more.
Reports to Watch
Black and White Achievement Gaps
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) will release a new report analyzing black and white achievement gaps at both the national and state levels and how the gaps have changed over time. "Achievement Gaps: How Black and White Students in Public Schools Perform in Mathematics and Reading on the National Assessment of Educational Progress" will be released Tuesday, July 14, 2009. A press conference will be held at the National Press Club at 9:30 a.m. and a conference call for media will be held at 11:30 a.m. eastern on Tuesday. For additional information, or to obtain the call-in number, please contact Connie Ward at (202) 842-3600, Ext. 264, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Reports: Teacher ed requirements change, college graduation, charter schools
A Bolder Step Towards Accountability
The Broader, Bolder Approach to Education, a task force of educators and policy makers, released a new report calling for the overhaul of the education accountability system. The report calls for pulling back on standardized testing and for creating a new accountability system that includes more qualitative assessments of students and school districts.
Reassessing Teacher Ed Standards
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education has a new way to evaluate teacher education programs. For the first time in 10 years, NCATE has revamped teacher education requirements. It calls for institutions to demonstrate they are on track to reach an “excellent” level of performance rather than remain at an "acceptable” level and that they have made substantial changes in the areas of clinical training, recruiting, retention, and research development.
How Kids Really Choose a School
Steve Cohen, chief editor of Zinch.com’s blog for parents, has a feature on the DailyBeast.com about what influences students’ decision-making when picking a college. Zinch.com, an online student to college matching service, finds that 64 percent of students are in sync with parents over college choices. The not-yet-released report also finds that friends play a more important role in students' decisions than guidance counselors or teachers.
College Graduation Rates
The American Enterprise Institute finds extreme differences exist among the most competitive and least competitive colleges in a study conducted for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. One highlight of the report: schools with the least selective admissions criteria have the lowest average graduation rates.
The accolades keep coming for some 2008 EWA contest winners. Blake Morrison and Brad Heath of USA Today took top honors in the 2009 Casey Medals for Meritorious Journalism. "The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America’s Schools" tied for first place for projects/series having a 200,000 plus circulation. At EWA’s meeting in Washington, D.C. in April, Heath and Morrison won the Fred M. Hechinger Grand Prize for Distinguished Education Reporting. Also notable is New York Times editor Paul Tough tying for runner-up in the radio category in Casey’s contest. Tough gave a thoughtful speech on his reporting of Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America at EWA’s annual meeting this spring.
Thomas Toch is the new executive director of the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington. Most recently Toch served as the co-director of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington, D.C. In the 1980s, he helped to launch Education Week and spent a decade as a senior education correspondent at U.S. News and World Report.
Jobs, Upcoming Workshops
The Poynter Institute is sponsoring a "Copy Editing in a Multimedia World" seminar Aug. 31 through Sept. 4. For more information, http://www.poynter.org/seminar/seminar.asp?id=5018&catid=
Teaching Tolerance is seeking a curriculum designer to join its editorial team. A project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the magazine is looking for a curriculum designer who can create short, easy-to-implement lesson plans that are standards-based, and age- appropriate. Candidates should have a passion for social justice and experience designing curriculum for the K-12 classroom across academic subject areas and grade levels. If interested, send cover letter, resume, and three samples of lessons or unit plans to: Human Resources, Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104. Electronic applications may be sent to email@example.com.
Education Week is sponsoring about the high school dropout crisis July 7 at 2p.m. Go here to sign up . One of the speakers is John Bridgeland of Civic Enterprises, who also spoke at EWA's annual conference in May.
The McCormick Foundation is sponsoring a specialized reporting institute covering Chicago’s 2016 summer Olympics bid. Deadline: Aug. 7. For more information visit, http://www.communication.depaul.edu/Notifications/Events/McCormick.html
From the Beat
Tim Darragh and Steve Esack
The Morning Call
In 2003, the Bethlehem Area School District was a dozen years and $93 million into renovating every one of its school buildings but had yet to tackle the most expensive projects -- construction of a new Broughal Middle School and renovations at Freedom and Liberty high schools. First in a four part series.
Two students, two schools -- 20 miles and a world apart
Los Angeles Times
Meet Kyle Gosselin and Henry Ramirez. Kyle attends La Ca�ada High; Henry was at South L.A.'s Jefferson High before moving to Texas. Their backgrounds may be worlds apart, but their dreams are similar.
Students Without Borders
A team of very smart teenagers has set out to discover ways that maggots might make the world a better place. Two are from Loudoun County. Two live more than 9,000 miles away in Singapore.
Where They Are, Why They're Gone: Three 9th Grade Dropouts
Chicago Public Radio
About 12,000 kids drop out of school in Chicago every year. At Robeson High School, a special project this year has tried to keep freshmen on course to graduate. Despite that, students have slipped away—they’ve stopped coming to school for a whole variety of reasons. Once they’re gone, the chances that anyone will find them are slim. This a part of an ongoing series.
Where AP teachers go to learn what they teach
St. Petersburg Times
Twenty-six high school teachers stood with straws in mouths and spoons at the ready. Bowls of M&Ms rainbowed before them. Pretend the M&Ms are fish, the instructor said, and pretend the straws are fishing poles.
The teachers sucked up the M&Ms with the straws. They scrapped for them with the spoons. As the candy disappeared, a lesson about regulation and natural resources took its place. This is what Advanced Placement teachers do when they step away from the front lines of an education revolution.
Please send your best stories and member news to Mesha Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dale Mezzacappa, president, Public School Notebook; Tanya Schevitz, vp/actives, free lance reporter; Marie Groark, vp/associates, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Stephanie Banchero, secretary, on leave from Chicago Tribune; Richard Whitmire, immediate past president, freelancer; Kathryn Baron, Warren Institute on Race and Diversity; John Merrow, Learning Matters, Inc.; Linda Lenz, Catalyst; Rodney Ferguson, Lipman Hearne, Inc.; Cornelia Grumman, First Five Years Fund; Elizabeth Green, Gotham Schools.org; Scott Elliott, Dayton (Ohio) Daily News; Kent Fischer, GMMB.