Blog: The Educated Reporter
Not long ago, a student who got into a fight at school would likely face an automatic suspension. Now, in schools across the country, that student might be back in class the next day.
That change is part of an expansive effort to rethink the way public schools respond to misbehavior. In many schools, punitive measures like suspension and expulsion are being replaced with alternative strategies that aim to keep students in the classroom and address underlying issues like trauma and stress.
Barbara Laker isn’t an education reporter. She doesn’t have a long list of teachers’ phone numbers in her contacts. So, it’s amazing that she was able to find and convince 24 teachers and other school employees from 19 elementary schools to swab pipes, drinking fountains and suspicious patches of black on classroom walls.
If there’s been one constant over the last decade in terms of teacher evaluation policies in the United States, it’s been change.
First, performance reviews incorporating student test scores became – mostly – the law of the land. Then, the academic standards educators and their pupils are measured against – mostly – changed. And then, in many places, those standards changed again.
So, has the implementation of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which did away with mandates on how states measure teacher quality, calmed the roiling waters?
College Dreams Meet Reality in ‘Tennessee Promise’ Land
Community colleges, technical programs key to access but opportunity gaps persist
(EWA Radio: Episode 190)
In 2015, Tennessee began offering free community college to the state’s new high school graduates, part of a massive effort to push the needle on educational attainment. Three years later, the “Tennessee Promise” initiative gets close scrutiny in a new project by EWA Reporting Fellows Adam Tamburin and Jason Gonzales of The Tennessean. While there was a statistically significant increase in community college enrollment, students still struggle with outside factors like a lack of preparedness for the rigors of college classes or needing to work to support themselves and their families. Among the conclusions: If the “Tennessee Promise” is to be more effective, students pursuing degrees and career certifications need more support and resources far beyond tuition assistance. The reporting team also analyzed ZIP code data, finding significant gaps in postsecondary attainment. Residents in poorer, rural areas, sometimes called “higher ed deserts,” were the least likely to continue their education beyond high school. So what has worked? What hasn’t? What are early lessons of the program? How can reporters in other communities report on the effectiveness of similar “free college” or college access programs?
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.”
There’s no one way to get a great data story on the education beat. You can start with a hunch, dig for data, and then humanize the story with on-the-ground reporting. Or you can start with the people and work back to the data.
Stellar journalists described both of these approaches at a recent Education Writers Association event, in a session called “How I Did the (Teacher) Story.”
Does Harvard Discriminate Against Asian-American Applicants?
Lawsuit could be Supreme Court test case for affirmative action, experts say
(EWA Radio: Episode 189)
A federal judge is expected to rule this winter on whether Harvard University discriminated against Asian-American applicants. The decision could have far-reaching implications for affirmative action at the nation’s colleges and universities.
It’s Not Just the Schools: Why Helping Families in Poverty Could Boost Students’ Test Scores
A review of research finds positive benefits to boosting family well-being
(EWA Radio: Episode 183)
In the debate over how to boost student achievement, especially among kids from low-income families, out-of-school factors are often cited as hurdles that even the best school-based programs and services can’t fully overcome. But what about programs that focus on lifting an entire family out of poverty?
The eighth grade classroom of English language arts teacher Natalie Mitchell is full of books by black writers. Titles like Natalie Y. Moore’s “The South Side,” and LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman’s “Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago,” are prominently displayed.
Mitchell’s literary choices here at the University of Chicago Charter School, Woodlawn campus, underscore a key element of her teaching: her own experience growing up on Chicago’s south side.
Why Do Spies Love U.S. Colleges?
New book digs into foreign and domestic espionage in higher education
(EWA Radio: Episode 186)
In his recent book, “Spy Schools,” veteran higher education journalist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Golden builds a compelling case that the globalization of American universities has made them fertile territory for espionage. Using case studies and sometimes stunning revelations, he shows how foreign operatives are exploiting access to get a better understanding of U.S. policies and practices, and, in some cases, to steal valuable scientific research.
What was the big takeaway for education in the 2018 elections? Sorry if this disappoints, but there just doesn’t appear to be a clear, simple story to tell. It was an election of seeming contradictions.
This was especially true in gubernatorial races, which matter a lot, given the key role state leaders play in education.
Get Out the (Teen) Vote
How school shootings, Trump, and campus activism are shaping civic engagement
(EWA Radio: Episode 188)
What’s on the minds of teens eligible to vote for the first time this year? Where do they get the news and information that’s shaping their views of candidates? How have their families, school experiences, and recent current events like the Parkland school shooting and President Trump’s agenda influenced their political awareness? Alyson Klein of Education Week takes us inside the publication’s new poll of voters ages 18 and 19, sharing insights from follow-up interviews with some survey respondents.