Blog: The Educated Reporter
How To Cover a Teachers’ Strike
A reporter shares tips on cultivating sources, asking good questions, developing fresh angles
(EWA Radio: Episode 165)
With Chicago teachers on the picket lines this fall — and labor actions in recent months in smaller school districts in California, Colorado, and Washington — hear how Ben Felder of The Oklahoman reported on a statewide walkout by educators in 2018. Like their counterparts in West Virginia and Kentucky, teachers in the Sooner State were seeking more than bigger paychecks; they also aimed to draw attention to funding shortfalls for public schools statewide.
New achievement data in math and reading for the nation’s 4th and 8th graders was released in October 2019, showing troubling declines or stagnant scores in most areas. Alongside the national snapshot were state-by-state results, plus scores for 27 urban school systems participating in a pilot program.
What School Choice Means in Rural Mississippi
The ugly history of ‘segregation academies’ hangs over community’s first charter school
(EWA Radio: Episode 220)
In rural Clarksdale, Mississippi, the phrase “school choice” has a different meaning, as it brings to mind the segregation academies set up by white families opposed to federally mandated school integration. Writing for The Hechinger Report, Danielle Dreilinger spent time in Clarksdale — known as the birthplace of the Blues — which recently got its first charter school, serving an almost all-black student population.
Soft Skills Training Teaches Electricians to Fix Fuses, Not Blow Them
Community colleges award budding trades workers badges in empathy
Sure, a plumber should be able to stop a leak or fix a toilet. Those job skills are essential, and easily measured.
But what about the rest of the equation — the people skills customers also want? How does an employer really know if an applicant has what it takes? Can’t there be a test or something?
The Fight to Fix Reading Instruction
New documentary looks at science of literacy, debunked theories, and the ongoing debate over what works best
(EWA Radio: Episode 219)
In a new documentary for APM Reports, Emily Hanford digs into the disconnect between the cognitive science on learning to read and the instructional methods being used to teach millions of U.S. students. Among her findings: a popular technique is based on a flawed idea that researchers say may actually be holding back kids from becoming skilled readers.
A Reality Check for Boston’s Valedictorians
The Boston Globe investigates K-12 and higher ed shortfalls in preparation and support for local students
(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.
Educating the ‘Whole Child’ Is Complex. Will Schools Get It Right?
Recipe blends academics with SEL, character development
The idea that education isn’t simply about academics is nothing new. But efforts are mounting to promote a better balance in schools, to more explicitly address students’ social and emotional learning (SEL), build strong character, and foster civic responsibility.
The terminology varies, but the broad concept is sometimes referred to as “educating the whole child.” What’s it all about? What’s driving the increased interest and attention? And are public schools today really equipped to deliver this expansive vision of education?
Paul Tough on Why College Years ‘Matter Most’
New book offers deep dive into social mobility, inequality in higher education
(EWA Radio: Episode 218)
In his new book, “The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes Us or Breaks Us,” author Paul Tough looks at inequities in access to high-quality higher education, specifically, the opportunity to earn degrees that research says lead to high-paying jobs, social mobility, and according to some research, better health and a longer life.
No Forgiveness: Teachers Struggle With Unfair Student Loan Debt
Two federal programs under scrutiny, as thousands of borrowers caught in administrative missteps
(EWA Radio: Episode 217)
Two federal programs that were supposed to steer college students to public service jobs like teaching in high-poverty schools instead became mired in missteps, as the recipients unexpectedly found their grants wrongly converted into high-interest loans. Cory Turner of NPR’s education team spent 18 months looking at problems with the TEACH Grant program, and his findings helped spur the U.S. Department of Education to reverse course.
In September 2008, with polls showing him in a statistical dead heat with Republican presidential nominee John McCain, Barack Obama proposed doubling the federal funding for charter schools. As president, Obama was a champion of charters and also used mechanisms such as his Race to the Top education initiative to spark their expansion.
The Missing Data on Student Restraint and Seclusion
Federal audit finds school districts failing to report the use of physical behavioral interventions
(EWA Radio: Episode 210)
School districts have been vastly underreporting instances when some of their most vulnerable students are physically restrained or sent to seclusion rooms by campus staff — that’s the conclusion of a new report from the Government Accountability Office, a federal watchdog agency. Two reporters on opposite sides of the country were already deep into the reporting on this issue: Jenny Abamu of WAMU in Washington, D.C., and Rob Manning of Oregon Public Broadcasting.
Can Puerto Rico’s Schools Be Saved?
As former education secretary Julia Keleher faces indictment, the U.S. territory struggles to keep schools open and students from fleeing
(EWA Radio: Episode 216)
In Puerto Rico, the public education system is still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Maria two years ago. Now, another storm has hit, but this time it’s political. Education Secretary Julia Keleher, who pledged to reinvigorate the U.S. territory’s crumbling and low-performing schools, resigned in April and has since been indicted on corruption charges. (She has pleaded not guilty.)