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EWA Radio

The Battle Over New York City’s Specialized High Schools
A court challenge to entrance exam in nation’s largest school district puts educational equity in spotlight
(EWA Radio: Episode 198)

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio wants to scrap the entrance exam that determines whether students gain admission to eight specialized public high schools in the city. The move, intended to make the  schools more diverse, has some equity advocates cheering. But a large number of students and families  – including a coalition of Asian-Americans parents who have mounted a lawsuit —  are pushing back about the proposed changes for the elite schools, saying it will squeeze out the most talented kids. Christina Veiga of Chalkbeat New York discusses the equity challenges facing the nation’s largest district, why Asian-American families are mounting a lawsuit to block DeBlasio’s plans, and how early childhood education and gifted and talented programs fit into schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s plans to improve diversity and inclusion throughout the city’s vast network of public schools. Also, Veiga offers advice for journalists on covering diverse campus communities, and story ideas to consider when reporting on issues related to race and inequities in educational opportunities.

Seminar

72nd EWA National Seminar
Baltimore • May 6-8, 2019

EWA’s National Seminar is the largest annual gathering of journalists on the education beat. This year’s event in Baltimore, hosted by Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, will explore an array of timely topics of interest to journalists from across the country, with a thematic focus on student success, safety, and well-being.

EWA Radio

What’s Betsy DeVos Up To?
School safety, student loans, and Title IX on front burner as U.S. Secretary of Education begins her third year
(EWA Radio: Episode 197)

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos,  now one of President Trump’s longest-serving cabinet members, shows no signs she’s contemplating stepping down before the president’s first term ends. Alyson Klein of Education Week and Emily Wilkins of Bloomberg Government discuss regulatory rollbacks by the U.S. Department of Education on issues including how campus sexual assault claims are handled and consumer protections for student financial aid. They also explore the new political dynamics now that Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives, with Rep. Bobby Scott chairing the Committee on Education and Labor.  What are the odds of Congress passing the long-overdue reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, for example? Plus, Klein and Wilkins identify hot topics that local reporters should keep on their radar, including ESSA implementation by states and whether a federal infrastructure package would provide money for school construction.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What Are the Rules for Charter Schools? It Depends.
In wake of 2018 elections, more change is afoot in states

In the often-heated debates over charter schools, it’s easy for the public — and reporters — to see them as monolithic.

A recent report on charter school laws serves as a good reminder that ground rules for the sector — and not just the profiles of individual schools — often vary significantly from state to state.

EWA Radio

How Beauty School Students Get ‘Tangled Up in Debt’
For-profit colleges promise more than they deliver
(EWA Radio: Episode 196)

In Iowa, private cosmetology schools are reaping big profits at the expense of their students. That’s the key takeaway from a new investigation by reporters Meredith Kolodner and Sarah Butrymowicz of The Hechinger Report. Students are spending upward of $20,000 to earn a cosmetology certificate—comparable to the cost of two associates’ degrees at a community college. Additionally, Iowa’s requirement for 2,100 hours of training, significantly higher than many other states, means students have to wait longer to start their full-time careers. Additionally, they’re often required to work at their school’s salon while taking classes, and bring in revenue by selling services and products. How did Butrymowicz and Kolodner crunch the national and local numbers on outcomes for these for-profit colleges? Who’s holding such programs accountable? And what advice do they have for local reporters covering career certification programs in their own communities?

Blog: Higher Ed Beat

Changing Demographics Mean Better College Odds for “Slugs”
A baby bust is forcing newsworthy changes to college admissions.

America’s declining birth rate has sweeping implications for the U.S. economy and society – especially its education system. Already, a decline in the number of 18-year-olds is forcing many colleges to take actions that journalists should cover, such as: changing recruiting practices, cutting costs, and, in some cases, going out of business, according to a panel of college officials, researchers and journalists speaking at a recent Education Writers Association seminar.

EWA Radio

For These Boston Valedictorians, Good Grades Weren’t Enough.
K-12 and college systems both failed to prepare and support students, The Boston Globe's investigation finds
(EWA Radio: Episode 195)

Ever wonder what happened to your high school’s valedictorian after graduation? So did The Boston Globe, which set off to track down the city’s top students from the classes of 2005-07. Globe reporters Malcolm Gay and Meghan Irons learned that a quarter of the nearly 100 valedictorians they located failed to complete college within six years. Some had experienced homelessness. Many have struggled in lower-skilled jobs than they had aspired to. What went wrong? To what extent did their high school education fail to prepare them? What should colleges do to better support students? Gay and Irons discuss their project, tell the stories of individual valedictorians, and share tips for journalists looking to undertake similar reporting in their own communities.

EWA Radio

Will Cursive Make a Comeback?
States and schools battle over requiring formal handwriting instruction
(EWA Radio: Episode 194)

Has any part of the curriculum come back from the dead as many times as cursive handwriting? From Connecticut to California, lawmakers are alternatively fighting to either mandate or ban cursive instruction, in some cases leaving the verdict up to individual districts and schools. The latter is the case in Maine, reports Noel Gallagher of The Portland Press Herald, where the cursive debate offers a window into the state’s long-held preference for local control. What are some surprising ways mastering the art of cursive writing might help students, according to advocates? And where should reporters be skeptical about claims of purported benefits, particularly when it comes to brain development in younger students?

EWA Radio

‘Lessons Lost’: How Student Churn Holds Back Kids, Schools
In Wisconsin, high student turnover slows school improvement
(EWA Radio: Episode 193)

In an in-depth investigative series, Erin Richards of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looks at how high rates of student mobility — changing schools at least once during an academic year — hurts their academic progress. Among the findings: 1 in 10 students statewide are moving between campuses annually. The figure is significantly higher in Milwaukee, where 1 in 4 students change schools during the year. How do Wisconsin’s school choice options factor into student churn? How did Richards crunch the data? And what solutions are educators and policymakers floating to combat mobility? Richards, who recently joined USA Today as a national education reporter, offers story ideas for local journalists looking at high turnover in their own districts.

Blog: The Educated Reporter

Is This a Political Turning Point for the Teaching Profession?

The journalist Dale Russakoff kept hearing the same word in her conversations with Arizona teachers during a reporting trip last spring for The New York Times Magazine. That word, she said, was “awakening.”

EWA Radio

2019 Will Be a Big Year for Education Stories. Here’s Why.
School safety, teacher activism, and Betsy DeVos top list of hot topics
(EWA Radio: Episode 192)

Will school districts change their approach to student discipline in light of recent actions by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? To what extent will the wave of teacher and student activism in 2018 influence public policy in the new year, at both the state and national levels? And why is a forthcoming federal court ruling on affirmative action likely to be a bellwether for elite college admissions? Dana Goldstein, a national education reporter for The New York Times, discusses hot topics to watch in the new year, plus ideas for reporters to localize them. Among her picks: how local districts and colleges might be opting to retain their Obama-era Title IX and civil rights policies, rather than embracing U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ rollback; the growing push to improve civics education, especially as it relates to schools’ responsibilities to prepare students to be informed voters; and the potential impact of a looming federal court decision on whether Harvard’s affirmative action policies discriminate against Asian-American applicants. Also, Goldstein offers insights for reporters covering what’s next in light of of last year’s wave of teacher walkouts and school shootings, and offers suggestions for taking fresh angles on familiar school choice stories. 

Blog: The Educated Reporter

What’s Ahead for Private School Choice Policy in 2019?
Vouchers and voucher-like programs may grow in some states, face pushback elsewhere

Arizona voters in November gave a decisive thumbs down to a ballot measure that sought to expand a voucher-like program in that state. The same voters, however, opted by a wide margin to re-elect Republican Gov. Doug Ducey — a champion of private school choice who threw his support behind the failed referendum.

And so it goes. For education overall, the 2018 election outcomes revealed a case of seeming contradictions, as we reported right after the election.