Blog: The Educated Reporter

EWA Radio: Your Top 10 of ‘20 Holiday Playlist
From COVID-19 coverage to the politics of textbooks, catch up with the top podcast episodes of the year

While most of us won’t be traveling far this holiday season, we still need those essential holiday playlists. Catch up with the most popular episodes this year of the EWA Radio podcast, which features journalists discussing the backstories to their best education reporting. (It’s also a good time to subscribe, so you don’t miss any new episodes in ‘21!)

I’m grateful to the talented reporters and editors who shared the joys and challenges of covering the education beat with our listeners. These conversations are a highlight of my week, and one of the great joys of my job as EWA’s public editor.

Below are the 10 podcast episodes that received the most “listens” this year.

Remember: if there’s a story you want to know more about, drop us a line at radio@ewa.org. We’re listening — and thank you for listening, too!

Top 10 EWA Radio Episodes of 2020:

10. Paradise Lost? Hawaii’s Teacher Shortage. Suevon Lee of Honolulu Civil Beat shared the challenges and opportunities of covering public education in the Aloha State, where schools are struggling to find enough qualified educators to serve an increasingly diverse, and high-need, student population.

9. When Public Dollars Pay For Private Schools. Mike Elsen-Rooney (now with the New York Daily News) dug into how affluent families had learned to take advantage of a federal program that covers private school tuition for students with special education needs, while children from poorer families missed out.

8. Left Behind By Remote Learning. Writing for The New Yorker, Alec MacGillis illuminated the struggles of Shemar, a 12-year-old from East Baltimore whose academic progress and support network were upended when his bricks-and-mortar school closed and classes were moved online.

7. Budget Cuts Loom for Education. How Vulnerable Are Your Local Schools? Daarel Burnette of Education Week paints a grim fiscal picture for K-12 schools in the wake of the pandemic. He also offers savvy advice and tips for mining the data, and focusing on the impact on high-need students and their families.

6.‘Too Young To Die’ in Montgomery, Alabama. To illustrate the impact of trauma on schools and students, reporter Krista Johnson of the Montgomery Advertiser profiled nearly a dozen young people who would have potentially graduated with the class of ‘20 had their lives not been cut short by violence plaguing their communities.

5. At These Christian Schools Getting Public Dollars, LGBTQ Students Pushed Into Conversion Therapy. Reporter Rebecca Klein uncovered shocking examples of students being subjected to controversial and arguably harmful “therapy” by officials at schools receiving state dollars through a voucher program intended to provide more families with a choice of educational opportunities for their children.

4. Can Schools Close the Knowledge Gap? With thousands of schools making the switch to remote learning, author Natalie Wexler made a case for education reporters to focus more on the “what” of the content being taught, and not just the how and when.

3. The Future of School Police. Amid growing tensions over the role of armed police on K-12 campuses, Mark Keierleber of The 74 shared tips for digging into the research, talking with students, and tracking the impact of districts’ policy changes.

2. The Impact of Coronavirus on Education. Editor Lesli Maxwell of Education Week and reporter Karin Fischer of The Chronicle of Higher Education shared story ideas from the early days of the pandemic, and offered tips for reporters to focus on self care and their own emotional well-being, as well.

1. And now (drumroll, please) … the most popular EWA Radio episode of 2020: ‘There are No Invisible Children:’ Erica Green of The New York Times. Green spoke candidly about why she prioritizes stories on the unmet needs of marginalized students She also discussed how she tackled challenging stories in the pandemic era, including how school cafeteria workers in Baltimore are feeding an entire neighborhood and a rare look inside a juvenile detention center where young adults are being left largely unprotected from COVID-19.