Blog: The Educated Reporter
Rocky Times on the Rocky Mountain Education Beat
From teacher strikes and school safety to covering local news in a time of dwindling resources
(EWA Radio: Episode 201)
In Colorado, Denver Post reporter Elizabeth Hernandez is covering education and a little bit of everything else. That’s a challenge in a state with plenty of school-related stories, and at a newspaper where recent layoffs are straining newsroom capacity. She discusses the recent Denver teacher strike, the first such labor action in 25 years, as well as her coverage of the rising cost to school districts of investigating social media threats. Hernandez, who is soon moving to take over the higher education beat, explains how she uses social media as a reporting and engagement tool in her daily work, and why reporting on educational equity gaps and the experiences of first-generation college students are among her top priorities. She also discusses taking on a high-profile role speaking out against management decisions — and massive layoffs — by her newspaper’s owners. How has becoming a public advocate for local journalism changed her professional perspective?
Behind Bars and in College
Postsecondary education in Illinois’ prison system
(EWA Radio: Episode 200)
If you’re an inmate in Illinois, what educational programs are available to help you get your life back on track? That’s the question public radio reporter Lee Gaines set out to answer in an ongoing series. As part of an EWA Reporting Fellowship, Gaines looks at how severe budget cuts in Illinois, plus changes to eligibility for federal Pell Grant dollars, have reduced the number of prisoners earning postsecondary credentials and degrees.
Reporting on Race With Context and Empathy
'Respect people’s humanity and resilience when you use their life to illustrate a problem,' says Adeshina Emmanuel.
Long before Adeshina Emmanuel wrote a story that went viral about a teenager’s literacy struggle, the Chicago-based reporter was part of a small, teary-eyed audience listening to one woman speak.
The woman, Katrina Falkner, recounted stepping up to take care of her nephew, Javion Grayer, after the teen’s mother died in 2016. Falkner described the realization that, at 16 years old, Javion was reading at a second-grade level.
The Schools Named For Segregationists
Communities, schools rethinking ties to anti-Civil Rights namesakes
(EWA Radio: Episode 199)
What’s in a name? That’s an increasingly complex question for communities with public schools named after segregationist politicians. Two Education Week reporters, Corey Mitchell and Andrew Ujifusa, are tracking both the campuses and controversy. Education Week built a database of 22 schools in eight states named for politicians who signed a document known as the “Southern Manifesto,” protesting the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954 on school desegregation. Increasingly, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center are advocating to turn the controversy into a “teachable moment” for these schools. What’s keeping school officials, including at South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond High School, from renaming campuses? How do students feel about the controversy? And what questions should reporters ask when they dig into the anti-civil rights legacies of these namesakes?
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.
New Governors’ Support Could Bolster Early Learning in 2019
Five Questions to Ask on Child Care, Pre-K, and Kindergarten Proposals
In gubernatorial races across the country last year, calls to expand pre-K and other early childhood programs were popular campaign talking points. With many of those candidates now in office, 2019 could prove to be a big year for action by policymakers on early learning.
One Year After Parkland: How Reporters Have Covered the Story
Key events and news coverage from the past year
This week marks a somber anniversary in the United States — one year since the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The massacre on February 14, 2018, left 14 students and 3 staff members dead, and many others wounded.
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.
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.
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?
It’s time for education reporters to take back coverage of school funding.
Too often, news outlets rely on journalists covering state government to also report on money for schools, said Daarel Burnette II, a reporter for Education Week. But journalists on the education beat bring valuable context and perspective on how schools work and the impact of funding.
“This is within our wheelhouse as education reporters, so don’t forget that,” Burnette advised journalists in November during an Education Writers Association seminar on educational equity.
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.