71st EWA National Seminar
More than six decades since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education that separate was far from equal in 1954, many U.S. children attend schools that are still separate and unequal.
Earlier this year, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released a report noting just that. The 2018 report, which focused on funding disparities in public education, stated that segregation in schools by race and income level is widespread, and that “the education available to millions of Americans” is “profoundly unequal.”
At Hazel Wolf STEM K-8 School in Seattle, academics don’t start on the first day of school.
“We haven’t yet built community,” teacher Tamara Alston said. “We haven’t figured out how we work together.”
How to Fund Your Dream Reporting Project
Seven organizations will provide financial and editorial support to education journalists.
Editor’s note: This story was updated April 21, 2020.
Here’s some rare good financial news for education journalists: If you have an idea for an ambitious education-related story - and a realistic plan for executing it – a growing number of organizations will provide grants or other resources to support your reporting.
Representatives from several of the organizations, and some fellowship winners, shared tips and strategies for getting help to make reporting dreams a reality.
If a Los Angeles gang member decides to seek a new start, he or she can walk through the front door of Homeboy Industries in West Los Angeles and its founder, “Father G,” typically will come out of his office and welcome them with open arms.
Strength in Numbers: Schools Team Up to Focus on Student Improvement
Solving complex problems requires buy-in by campus leaders, experts say
For decades, most efforts to improve opportunities for high-needs students have resembled snowflakes; they come down from above, are completely different from each other, complicate routines, and rarely stick.
However, experts gathered at EWA’s annual conference in Los Angeles this year said at least one kind of reform has a good chance of making long-lasting gains: “school improvement networks.”
At a time when student discipline is the subject of increased attention and debate, education journalists often struggle with how to better understand and cover the issue. During this EWA session, speakers addressed flashpoint issues, including zero tolerance policies, racial disparities in disciplinary actions, and the rise of so-called “restorative justice” practices. Along the way, they explored – and debated – the best ways to balance competing concerns to ensure fairness, equity, and a safe and productive learning environment.
Pace University is a medium-sized private college in New York with a sticker price of $66,000. California State University, Northridge serves more than three times as many students (41,000) and has a sticker price for Californians less than a third of Pace’s ($21,000).
Petrified by percentages? Or mesmerized by math?
No worries. Experts assembled for a recent Education Writers Association panel shared strategies to enlist data to tell your story, and how to convey it visually, with tips for math phobes and number nerds alike.
Data is simply a collection of structured stories, said Alvin Chang of Vox Media. Think of every row in a chart as a story, and every visual element as a sentence, he advised. Then ask: How is it better than a sentence? (If it’s not, maybe it shouldn’t be a chart.)
Five Tips for Reporting on Infants and Toddlers
An award-winning journalist explains how, and why, to cover early childhood education
If you think about education reporting as covering schools and the students who attend them, you might be scratching your head as to why infants and toddlers are newsworthy subjects. But if education reporting is really about covering learning, then children under age 4 are some of the best subjects you could imagine.
If you’ve been confused about what the data and research say about school segregation — whether it is growing or shrinking – you’re not alone. Scholars argue over this, too.
Covering LGBT Issues in the Classroom
Shifts seen in textbooks to reflect gay, lesbian historical figures
When the new academic year begins for California public schools, for the first time instructional materials will be available to ensure every K-12 classroom has access to accurate and unbiased depictions of the sexual orientation and gender identity of historical figures.
The FAIR Education Act – FAIR stands for Fair, Accurate, Inclusive and Respectful – requires history and social studies curriculum to include references to contributions by people with disabilities and members of the LGBT community.
Researchers at Michigan State University and Teachers College, Columbia University, tackled an intriguing question in a 2016 study: How much influence were large, national donors having on local school board elections?
The study’s abstract stated that large donor networks had “nationalized” local education politics in Los Angeles, Denver, New Orleans and Bridgeport, Conn.
Early childhood education is rarely a beat education journalists can cover exclusively. But the need for quality coverage is great, especially as more and more state governments, private foundations, and districts zero in on early childhood education as a place for greater investment.
Experts weighed in on one issue in particular last month at the Education Writers Association’s national conference: How can journalists cover communities that are “child care deserts?”
Covering immigrant students and their families – always challenging given legal and privacy concerns — has arguably never been more timely, as recent shifts in federal policy have thrust them into the national spotlight.
A panel of researchers and journalists offered advice on pressing issues, including: how reporters can explain the stakes of their stories to sources, whether undocumented students should be named, and how to discuss complicated immigration policy shifts in a clear and compelling way that draws in readers.
Surveys indicate that the costs of college are now bigger worries for most applicants and families than the traditional anxieties about getting in.
It’s not just because of the shockingly high prices, such as the private colleges sporting sticker prices (tuition, room, board, books and miscellaneous expenses) north of $70,000 a year. Families are obsessed with costs in part because of the surprising complexity and opacity of college prices.
The media images illustrating students in “personalized learning” environments often look something like this: elementary-schoolers with headphones on, looking at tablets, or teenagers typing away on laptops.
But during a recent panel discussion, experts and educators sought to make one thing clear: Personalized learning is not about technology, and you don’t need a lot of money to carry it out.
Careful Coverage of Campus Sexual Assaults Can Spark Reforms
Experts offer four strategies for reporting on Title IX complaints.
Reporters are spending more and more time covering allegations of sexual assault on college campuses. A Nexis search finds more than 3,000 articles in U.S. newspapers in the last year using the terms “sexual assault,” “alleged” and “campus.”
Top Higher Ed Stories for the 2018-19 Academic Year
Politics is driving some of the hottest news stories on college campuses.
Some of the most pressing higher education stories for the next academic year will spring from the intersection of education and politics, predicts Scott Jaschik, the editor of Inside Higher Ed.
Jaschik reprised his always-popular rundown of the top higher education story ideas during the Education Writers Association’s National Seminar in May.
How to Break News Using Social Media and Avoid ‘Bots And Trolls
Journalists need to join the technological arms race against misinformation
The scariest moment of the 2018 Education Writers Association National Seminar came when Steve Myers, the editor of The Lens, demonstrated how to alter reality in less than thirty seconds.
He pulled up an unsuspecting person’s tweet, and with a few clicks, made the text say something totally new. He only tinkered with the coding to change how the tweet appeared on his screen. (It went unchanged to the rest of the world.) But it was there long enough to take a screenshot.
Diversifying the teacher workforce — an issue of growing concern to education leaders and policymakers — is difficult to achieve because of leaks in the pipeline and after teachers of color reach the classroom, a panel of experts told reporters at a recent conference. The challenges start in teacher-prep programs and extend through certification, hiring, placement, retention and leadership, the speakers said at a recent Education Writers Association event.
At Rocky Hill School, a private day school in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, it’s not unusual for education technology entrepreneurs to pop into the classroom or Skype in for a chat.
As it turns out, a captive audience of eight- and nine-year-olds can be useful in designing new products. Third-graders at the school had a hand in developing an award-winning plush duck that gives comfort to children undergoing chemotherapy, head of school James Tracy said.
It’s hard to avoid writing about tests and test scores as an education reporter. Too often, though, the story gets done in a rush — with scores about to be released or already out in the world.
Marianne Perie, the director of the Center for Assessment and Accountability at the University of Kansas, urged reporters to take a step back at the Education Writers Association conference in May.
Beyond Protests: Better Ways to Cover Race Issues on Campus
Racial conflicts at colleges need deeper and more patient coverage.
Protests over statues honoring Confederate soldiers; shouting matches at presentations by white nationalist speakers; student drives to strip buildings of names honoring racist officials.
Such dramatic campus racial conflicts and controversies justifiably attract attention from reporters and the public, according to a pair of veteran education journalists, a researcher, and a college administrator who spoke on a panel at the Education Writers Association’s 2018 National Seminar.
How President Trump and the Republicans Are Changing Colleges
Impacts already being seen in admissions, student loans and for-profit colleges.
Even though a long-delayed update to a major higher education law appears to be stalled in the U.S. Senate, Republican policies are starting to influence colleges around the country because of orders and actions taken by the administration of President Donald Trump, according to a recent panel of Washington insiders and higher education leaders.
Speaking at the Education Writers Association’s 2018 National Seminar in May, the panelists highlighted three ways federal actions are affecting colleges around the country.
Adult College Students: The Undercovered 6.6 Million
35% of the college population are veterans, working parents and perpetual students like James Franco.
Adult learners, or college students aged 25 and older, are typically referred to as “nontraditional students,” in contrast to their younger, “traditional” student peers.
But that’s an oversimplification of “tradition.” Adult students have long been an important part of the college student body – whether it was the World War II veterans who flooded campuses thanks to the GI Bill, or seemingly perennial students like James Franco.
Hispanic students, who make up the second largest racial demographic in schools today, are entering college in record numbers. But they are also dropping out of college at a far higher rate than white students. That reality has important implications for our educational and economic systems and the reporters who cover them, according to a group of researchers and experts gathered at the 2018 Education Writers Association National Seminar.
Public university systems have weathered wave after wave of difficulties in recent years – from shrinking state funding streams to intense public scrutiny and criticism – and it’s not likely to get easier anytime soon.
That’s according to the leaders of the two public university systems in California, a state that has long led the way on higher education for the rest of the nation.
Matthew Kauffman, an investigative reporter for the Hartford Courant, started a two-part, data literacy workshop for journalists with a question: “How many people got into journalism primarily because they were hoping to do more math?”
When zero hands went flying into the air, he was not surprised.
“There’s just kind of a disconnect between what we do and numbers and math,” Kauffman said. However, he argued it is more important than ever for reporters to get comfortable with math.
“Diversity is essential to the success of the news industry.” Those words, once so eloquently stated by award-winning journalist Gwen Ifill, capture the overarching message conveyed during a recent panel on diversity in the journalism workforce. The spirited talk was part of the Education Writers Association’s 2018 National Seminar in Los Angeles.
College and graduate school have gotten so expensive, and lenders have been so willing to allow borrowers to put off repayment (and let the interest compound), that a few dozen Americans have managed to amass more than $1 million in student loan debt.
The U.S. Supreme Court is on the cusp of a decision that could reshape teachers’ unions, putting new pressure on them to convince educators that paid membership is worthwhile.
At issue is a case over whether public employees, including teachers, who choose not to join unions can be required to pay agency fees. (Those fees typically cover the costs of collective bargaining.)
With States at the Wheel, What’s Next for School Accountability?
Issues to watch under ESSA, from report cards to achievement gaps
The federal Every Student Succeeds Act has put states back in the driver’s seat on school accountability.
No longer must states abide by what many perceived as the one-size-fits all federal mandates associated with ESSA’s predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act.
But what will this newfound freedom look like? And what should education reporters watch for to ensure states remain focused on closing achievement gaps and parents get an accurate and easy-to-grasp picture of school performance?
School safety experts recently weighed in on how states and school systems are — and should be — responding to the spate of campus shootings.
They also shared best practices for journalists when covering the issue of school shootings, including how to analyze school districts’ prevention efforts, what stories to look for, and how to report on shootings while minimizing harm to mourning communities.
The May 16 panel came two days before yet another school shooting, this time at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, that led to 10 deaths.
Five Questions to Ask After Court’s ‘Janus’ Ruling
Teachers' unions face uncertain future as decision looms
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling soon that could potentially deal a major blow to the size and strength of teachers’ unions.
The case, Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 31, pits public sector unions against employees who contend that requiring non-union workers to pay certain fees to the union violates their freedom of speech.
As a growing number of teachers across the country hold strikes to advocate for better pay and increased education funding, new questions are arising about the power of teachers’ unions, the role of social media, and what teachers are doing to continue their efforts beyond large-scale work demonstrations.
During a May 16 panel at the Education Writers Association’s annual conference, speakers sought to contextualize the teacher actions, what they mean, and what’s next.
Campus speech has become one of the hottest topics in higher education — especially in recent months, as clashes have turned violent and drawn the attention of President Donald Trump and the Justice Department.
Education journalists must think more critically about the ways in which race, ethnicity and gender play into the stories they tell, a panel of experts said at the first keynote session at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar in Los Angeles last week.
Parkland Survivors and Other Youth Activists: ‘You’re Going to Listen to Us’ on Gun Violence
EWA National Seminar puts spotlight on students
In an emotionally charged session at the Education Writers Association’s national seminar, several student activists urged journalists to keep the national spotlight on gun violence and not let the shootings at a Florida high school and elsewhere be forgotten.
Guns, Violence & Student Activism: A Conversation
Live From EWA's National Seminar on May 17 at 8:00 a.m. PDT
In the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, students-turned-activists are at the center of a renewed national push to stem gun violence on campus and in communities. For this discussion, high school students Emma González and David Hogg of Parkland, Fla., Alex King of Chicago, and Jackson Mittleman of Newtown, Conn., shared their reflections and stories on guns, violence, school safety, and student activism with Education Week Staff Writer Evie Blad.
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2017 National Awards for Education Reporting and the Eddie Prize, recognizing the top education stories in online, print, and broadcast media across the country.
Tuesday May 15, 2018
5:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Welcome Reception (Westin Bonaventure Hotel)
- Hosted by National Education Association
5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Registration Open (Westin Bonaventure Hotel)
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
All concurrent sessions are held in the Gould School of Law’s Musick Building or the Wallis Annenberg Hall.
8:00 – 8:45 a.m. Continental Breakfast (Bovard Lobby South)
The Education Writers Association, the national professional organization for journalists who cover education, is pleased to announce that its flagship annual conference will take place at the University of Southern California from Wednesday, May 16, through Friday, May 18, 2018.
The Education Writers Association is pleased to announce the theme of its 2018 National Seminar: “Room for All? Diversity in Education & the Media.” The conference, slated for May 16-18 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, will examine the impact of today’s fast-changing demographic and cultural dynamics — from the classroom to the newsroom and beyond.
The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites
404 S. Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
To book your hotel accommodations, please use this specialized link for the EWA room block.
Unless noted in the agenda, all National Seminar sessions will be held on the University of Southern California campus.