Blog: The Educated Reporter
What’s Ahead for Private School Choice Policy in 2019?
Vouchers and voucher-like programs may grow in some states, face pushback elsewhere
Arizona voters in November gave a decisive thumbs down to a ballot measure that sought to expand a voucher-like program in that state. The same voters, however, opted by a wide margin to re-elect Republican Gov. Doug Ducey — a champion of private school choice who threw his support behind the failed referendum.
And so it goes. For education overall, the 2018 election outcomes revealed a case of seeming contradictions, as we reported right after the election.
What’s in a Grade?
New data cast doubt on the connection between report card grades and academic achievement
Grades and student report cards provide parents with a picture of how their children are performing in school. New data, however, raises questions about just how accurate that picture is.
A pair of recent reports shed light on the connection, or lack thereof, between a student’s report card grades and their actual academic achievement.
Who’s Teaching the 13,000 Migrant Kids in Federal Custody?
US News investigation finds little oversight of multi-billion dollar business for education services contractors
(EWA Radio: Episode 184)
Thousands of migrant children have been taken into custody while crossing the border into the U.S., either on their own or while traveling with family members. While they await a court date, the federal government is required to provide school-age detainees—being held in facilities across the country—with daily schooling. Lauren Camera of U.S. News & World Report asks some tough questions in her report about accountability and oversight of what’s turned into a multi-billion dollar business for the private contractors providing these services. What’s known about the children (primarily from Central America) being detained and their educational needs? What academic instruction and services does federal law require school-age detainees to receive? How well are those requirements being met inside the shelters? Why has the number of children being detained spiked sharply, from about 2,400 in May 2017 to its current level of nearly 13,000? Where is the money coming from to pay for the mandated academic instruction? And what are some story ideas for local reporters who might have migrant children being held in custody in their own communities?
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is Resigning. These Students Will Remember Him as a Great Interview.
How two high schoolers scored a rare chance to question the cabinet official.
(EWA Radio: Episode 131)
With U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ Dec. 20 announcement of his forthcoming resignation from President Trump’s cabinet, here’s a chance to revisit our conversation with two student journalists who scored a rare interview with the highly regarded military leader.
Teddy Fischer and Jane Gormley of Mercer Island High School in Washington State discuss how they landed a lengthy Q&A with U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who has given few interviews since joining President Trump’s cabinet. Fischer, a rising junior, and Gormley, the immediate past editor of the school’s student newspaper, worked with their journalism class and faculty advisor to prepare for the 45-minute conversation on Memorial Day. Among the issues Mattis discussed: the role education plays in combatting the rise of radicalization and extremism, and suggestions for how U.S. high schools might foster better relations between the U.S. and other countries. Fischer and Gormley share the backstory to their surprisingly wide-ranging interview, the editorial process that went into its publication, and what they’ve learned from the experience.
Connecting Families and Schools Is a ‘Shared Responsibility’
Empowering parents pays dividends for student learning, experts say
There’s plenty of evidence that when their families are engaged in their school experience, students do better.
The trick, experts said during a recent Education Writers Association event, is finding ways for school officials to reach those families, particularly if there are cultural or language barriers, or if low-income working families struggle to find the time or transportation to participate in school events.
Sometimes when Philadelphia school principal Sharif El-Mekki asks a roomful of students of color about their interest in teaching, they respond with laughter.
“We ask them — have you been thinking about it?” he said during a recent EWA panel on how to make the teacher workforce more racially and ethnically diverse. ”And the response,” El-Mekki said, is “No way. I’m having a miserable experience in school. Why would I commit myself to living there?”
How Do Teachers’ Unions Move Forward in Wake of ‘Janus’ Decision?
High court ruled against collecting 'agency' fees from non-members
In June, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling to prohibit public sector unions from collecting “agency” or “fair share” fees, some observers saw it as the beginning of the end for teachers unions.
But such dire predictions may be premature, according to education analysts and a union leader at the Education Writers Association’s October event on the teaching profession.
The holiday weeks can be slow-going on the education beat. Here are a few ideas for turning those spruce pines into evergreen stories:
EWA in the Southern Hemisphere
'Jeduca,' new association for Brazil's education journalists, kicks off
São Paulo, Brazil – I am 4,800 miles from home, a continent away and in another hemisphere — yet the scene seems familiar. On a rainy Monday morning in August, I’m queuing up with hundreds of other journalists who cover education.
We wait patiently at a registration desk as greeters hand over a plastic name tag and a canvas tote bag filled with goodies: a blue metal water bottle, a logo-covered pen, a mobile phone charger and a printed program.
Wanted: More Teachers of Color
In Minnesota, growing student diversity is outpacing the educator workforce
(EWA Radio: Episode 191)
The public school population in Minnesota, as in many other states, is becoming more diverse by race and ethnicity. But the teacher workforce? Not so much. About one-third of Minnesota students are non-white, compared with roughly 5 percent of teachers, as Faiza Mahamud and MaryJo Webster report for the Star Tribune newspaper. That’s a growing problem for educators and policymakers looking to give more students the opportunity to learn from someone who looks like them — a benefit researchers say can improve academic achievement, self esteem, and other factors in student success. Mahamud, who covers the Twin Cities’ public schools, spent time talking with students and families about what they’re looking for in classroom teachers, and how a lack of diversity can hurt family engagement, especially among newer immigrant families. Webster, the newspaper’s data editor, shares the ins and outs of finding — and crunching — statistics on teacher diversity, as well as some lessons learned from the project.
Education reporters and progressive Twitter denizens are probably familiar with the graphic. Three people of different heights are trying to look over a fence. In one frame, labeled “equality,” each is given a box of the same height, leaving the shortest still unable to see over the fence.
In the other, labeled “equity,” each is given a box of different sizes so they’re at equal heights.
A High School That Listens to Its Students and Teachers
'Student-centered learning' approach means more freedom but also more accountability in Revere, Mass.
(EWA Radio: Episode 187)
What happens when a teacher takes a student up on his dare to watch a TV series about zombies?