Blog: The Educated Reporter

How Journalists Can Fact-Check Highly Emotional Stories
Misinformation on social media runs rampant during protests over George Floyd's death

Are left-leaning extremists inciting riots in Idaho? Is a Minnesota McDonald’s burning after protests? Did a protestor steal a Chicago police horse?

No, no and no. All of these claims — which were all shared widely on social media — are false. But in highly emotional situations like demonstrators protesting the death of George Floyd, misinformation and disinformation can take on a life of its own on social media.

Here are several resources for combating misinformation in your reporting — and some examples of debunked stories.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Tools to Help Reporters Examine Their Racial Biases
Reporting guides and other materials to guard against unconscious bias

Among the biggest challenges journalists face these days: covering race issues accurately and fairly. Reporters not steeped in the subcultures they’re sent out to cover must especially guard against ways their own unconscious biases, or ignorance might cause them to unintentionally reinforce unwarranted stereotypes or even reinforce community traumas.

Below, we’ve gathered reporting guides; materials to help you acknowledge your privilege; books on racial inequities in schools; and places you can donate.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Word on the Beat: School Resource Officer
In wake of nationwide protests over George Floyd's death, role of school police is questioned

On June 2, the Minneapolis School Board voted unanimously to sever its ties with the city’s police department, which had provided training and oversight for its armed school resource officers. The decision came in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a city police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest. Several officers involved in the incident now face felony charges.

EWA Radio

What’s New With ‘Varsity Blues’
The latest on the college-admissions scandal, and how COVID-19 is reshaping what campuses will look like this fall
(EWA Radio: Episode 239)

With more celebrity defendants pleading guilty to using a high-priced fixer to help their kids cheat their way into top colleges, what’s been the impact on college admissions? The Wall Street Journal’s Melissa Korn, whose book on the “Varsity Blues” scandal has been optioned for a television project, discusses the latest developments, as well as the fallout more broadly for higher education.


EWA Announces Dates of Virtual 2020 National Seminar
The largest annual gathering of education writers to focus on COVID-19 impact

The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce that its 73rd annual National Seminar will take place online July 21–24, 2020.

The theme of the virtual conference will be the far-reaching impact of the COVID-19 crisis on education, from the early years through K-12 and postsecondary learning. Special features include the presentation of awards honoring the best in education reporting, sessions tailored to communications professionals, training on data tools, and practical advice from accomplished journalists on how they did their stories. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Covering Protests? Here’s What You Need to Know.
Education reporters on the job among those arrested, injured at recent demonstrations protesting death of George Floyd

Education reporters across the country are covering the protests that have flared up in response to the death of George Floyd, who died in Minnesota last week after a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. (Some officers involved in the incident, which took place during an arrest in a neighborhood south of Minneapolis, now face criminal charges.)

EWA Radio

Budget Cuts Loom for Education. How Vulnerable Are Your Local Schools?
COVID-19's economic fallout is sure to take a toll on districts, but impacts may vary widely
(EWA Radio: Episode 238)

With the nation facing a pandemic-driven recession unlike any in generations, public schools are bracing for a big financial hit. Reporter Daarel Burnette II of Education Week shares insights from his school finance coverage during the crisis and a new database that gauges the economic vulnerability of districts from coast to coast.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Keeping Up With Brain Science Is a Tall Order for Many Teachers
Teacher training often fails to reflect current research, experts say

When teacher Eric Kalenze introduced a new book or reading passage to his students, he used to allow them to explore it on their own, following an approach he learned in teacher training.

Now, armed with a better understanding of the science of learning, he believes leading with this type of student inquiry is ineffective. Instead, he front-loads crucial context and factual information he thinks students will need to understand the text.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Elevating Your Reporting With Data: The Dos and Don’ts
How to marry basic reporting with a data set — and tips to read it correctly

You don’t need data to write a great story. But adding data, if done well, can take your reporting from McDonald’s to Michelin-starred.

These tips will help you elevate the coverage you produce every year, such as stories on student performance; ensure you correctly translate what the data is saying; and remind you to stay skeptical.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Testing COVID-19’s Academic Impact on Students
Early assessments seen as key to gauging learning gaps, social-emotional needs

When schools reopen, expect to see a lot of testing.

Sure, COVID-19 testing may be prevalent for students and their teachers. But in addition, a first step for many schools will be diagnostic tests to gauge learning gaps after months away. Some experts also are calling for assessments of students’ social, emotional, and mental health needs as they start the new academic year.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Covering Adolescents Through Data

Stories about adolescents present the opportunity for a variety of compelling characters, from parents and teachers to the teens themselves who feel passionately about the issues. But data can also be a powerful tool in crafting such narratives, as it provides vital context for the audience. 

Teacher Prep, Interrupted: Licensing Educators During Coronavirus

Teacher Prep, Interrupted: Licensing Educators During Coronavirus
Experts discuss emergency waivers and their potential impact

Each year, hundreds of thousands of new teachers are licensed in the United States. With the shuttering of schools and colleges due to the coronavirus pandemic, states are using emergency waivers to certify teacher candidates who are unable to complete preparation requirements such as coursework, student teaching, and certification exams.

Along with these swift changes come new questions about the teacher workforce and what will happen to the educator pipeline in the midst of a public health emergency and economic recession.

EWA Radio

Do Students Have a Right to Literacy?
Landmark court decision finds access to adequate educational services is a “basic right”
(EWA Radio: Episode 237)

A federal appeals court recently ruled that the state of Michigan has failed  to make sure children in Detroit are adequately educated. The April decision said the city’s schools have suffered from underfunding, poorly maintained facilities and too few qualified teachers. While the state is contemplating an appeal, the decision is still considered a landmark for civil rights advocates mounting similar challenges in state courts across the country.

Tip Sheet

EWA Tip Sheet: Reporting on Colleges’ Finances Amid Coronavirus

This post was originally published on Journalist’s Resource. It has been republished here with permission of the author. 

Colleges across the country face deep financial losses after the coronavirus forced school officials to shutter campuses and cancel events. Administrators worry their money troubles will only get worse if enrollment, government funding and other sources of revenue continue to fall amid a likely recession.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Will Coronavirus Be a Tipping Point That Ends Annual Testing in Schools?
Every state received a waiver of federal testing rules for 2019-20. What about next year and beyond?

The cancellation of statewide testing for millions of students this spring was no surprise, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s raising a larger question — whether the era of annual assessments in reading and mathematics, as required under federal law, will soon end.